Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Laws Concerning Violence Resulting in Death -- Exodus 21:12-14

--> “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.  But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint you a place to which he may flee.  If, however, a man acts presumptuously toward his neighbor, so as to kill him craftily, you are to take him even from My altar, that he may die.”
 
We begin our look at this passage by commenting that these laws, while they utilize the male pronoun and noun forms (he, him, a man, etc.), are also intended for women. There is an article entitled Why you should never say ‘he or she’.  The author, David Gelernter, a professor at Yale, writes, “When the style-smashers first announced, decades ago, that the neutral ‘he’ meant ‘male’ and excluded ‘female,’ they were lying and knew it.” It is a wonderful article, well written and most enjoyable.  I suggest you look it up at the link above.  So, we continue our study with these laws applying both to males and females.
Secondly, we note that this law concerns violence that results in death.  What God is saying here is that someone who kills another person must be put to death.  This was the origin of capital punishment that some jurisdictions still have in the West, and certainly many Islamic societies follow.
But God goes on here to distinguish between various types of murder, or so it seems.  The actual text suggests there is a difference between “a man lying in wait to kill someone” almost like a hunter hunts his prey versus a man who kills someone in the course of his life.  Most modern translations (see Verse 14 translations ) seem to reflect the second category as murder happening by accident or as murder permitted or ordained by God.  For this second type of murder, God says the person is not to be killed but rather that He would provide a place to which he may flee and be safe.
The more modern world seems to have run with this distinction a little further and translated it into the difference between intentional/planned/pre-meditated murders (which God deals with in the last verse of this passage, verse 14) vs. non-premeditated ones.  What the world has done conveniently takes God out of the equation but also establishes a whole different set of criteria with its accompanying problems to determine whether or not a murderer should receive the death penalty.  Thus, we have an outcry against it today.  God’s criterion was one and simple: if He (meaning God) allowed it, the murderer was not to be killed, but he had to hide and flee, implying some punishment may well be warranted (especially if the murder was an accident, say due to carelessness, etc.).
As indicated above, the last verse in the passage provides a special instruction with respect to those who kill someone “craftily” or via scheming and planning to do so first.  These people are even to be removed immediately from any service to, or for, God or any worship of God and be killed.  Perhaps this was what gave rise to the old church lynching activities that took place many years ago.  And certainly taking the law into our own hands is not what God intended for His children today.  But is it possible that we as a church have gone too far the other way by allowing known sin to continue in our midst; by allowing unrepentant sinners to continue to play key roles in our congregations or missions?  I remember once informing a pastor that a new congregant of his was there rather than his former church because he just left his wife and children to be with someone else.  The pastor did not even want to hear about it.  Woe to us who turn a blind eye to continuing unrepentant sin in our own families, churches, organizations.  While confronting it is often costly in many respects, I believe we need to get serious about what God wants for us, for our families, for our churches, and for the organizations we are part of – that is, the very entities we can do something about.  It is all part of getting the “Bride”, His Church, ready for the Groom’s return.
 
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[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Friday, September 19, 2014

The Female Slave -- Exodus 21:7-11


“And if a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do.  If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed.  He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his unfairness to her.  And if he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters.  If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing or conjugal rights.  And if he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.”


The behavior suggested in the first phrase in this passage would result in criminal charges today.  Much has changed since the days of the Israelites in the wilderness. We can accept that slavery back then although abhorrent, was legal. What some of us may have more trouble accepting today is that God Himself was suggesting that the treatment of male slaves was to be different than the treatment of female slaves.  Whereas male slaves could go free after serving their masters for six years (see Exodus 21:2), female slaves did not have that benefit.  Why?
I think that rather than question God’s fairness in this situation we would be wise to read the entire passage.  In actual fact, a female slave was getting the better deal.  The whole purpose of God’s instructions for the female whose family was forced to sell her out of poverty, was ultimately that someone would be taking care of her.  The first thing we need to be aware of was that when a ‘maid-servant’ was bought, she was bought not really to be a slave, but rather to be the master’s wife or the wife of one of his sons some day, according to commentator David Guzik.  And if that was not to happen – the master did not marry her, or the sons did not want her -- she was to be redeemed preferably by their own family if they could afford to, but if not, her master could not sell her to a foreigner (or stranger).
Once a master gave the maidservant to his son, then from that point on she was to be treated as a daughter, not a slave. And as I read the next sentence, if the master or his son, once having accepted the maidservant as his wife, were to add more wives to his family (something else practiced in those days, but not condoned by God), then he had to ensure that the maidservant would still get the same allowances for food and clothing, and also have her conjugal rights (that is, the rights, especially to sexual relations, regarded as exercisable in law by each partner in a marriage).  Should these three things not be provided to her, she was free to leave and make her own way in society.  But through all of this, we can hopefully see that God was ensuring that the Hebrew women and daughters, whose own families could not afford to take care of them, would be protected.
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[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.  And while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.  Ken.
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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.