Lucado goes on to explain how even in that situation, God’ Grace flows just as strong to those that approach Him in a sincere prayer of confession. “Confessors,” Lucado writes, “find a freedom that deniers don’t.”
The second thing that comes to mind as I study this and note the refusal rights of the father to allow his daughter to marry someone we could today call a “cad” [a person whose behavior is unprincipled or dishonorable], is the so-called felt-right of Muslim fathers to force their younger daughters to marry someone they are not in love with, perhaps a much older man, or a man who already has one or more wives, or a real ‘cad’. You don’t have to look long on the Internet to find pictures of young women who have been doused with acid for refusing to marry the person their father, sometimes with the support of their mother, was forcing upon them. Much more loving the right to forbid a marriage based on one’s faith, experience, and sheer love for one’s daughter, than to force that same daughter to marry someone she is not in love with for your own selfish reasons, be it money or injudicious honor.
Thirdly this passage lays out the law for the Israelites not to allow a sorceress in their midst to live. She is to be killed. Those were pretty strong words and orders. Until of course we realize what a sorceress was and is.
Here’s what another portion of Deuteronomy says about sorcery and sorcerers:
"Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or [spiritualist] who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to The Lord, and because of these detestable practices The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before The Lord your God." (Deuteronomy 18:10-13 NIV)
What we have here is God saying to the Israelites – “These things, these practices, have no room in the lives of my people. They belong to heathen nations. I detest those practices. You are to live purely before me without them.” The best way for the Israelites to have done that was to eliminate anyone who so practiced among them.
Matthew Henry gives us this insight:
“Witchcraft not only gives . . . honor to the devil which is due to God alone, but bids defiance to the divine Providence, wages war with God's government, and puts his work into the devil's hand, expecting him to do good and evil, and so making him indeed the god of this world; justly therefore was it punished with death, especially among a people that were blessed with a divine revelation, and cared for by divine Providence above any people under the sun.”
David Guzik adds:
The practice of sorcery was almost always associated with "medicinal arts" (the taking of drugs) in the ancient world, and was therefore a connection between drug taking and occultist practices . . . Not permit[ing] a sorceress to live: This was considered a severe enough threat that sorcery was considered a capital crime. The link between drugs and the occult was rightly seen as deadly.
The question remaining for us is twofold: First, why specific reference to a female who is involved in sorcery and second, why introduce this practice in a portion of scripture tied to pre-marital sex? Good questions, perhaps with no absolute satisfactory answers.
Here is a list of all the references in Scripture to 'witches'. Well worth looking up. And here’s the much shorter list of all the references in Scripture to 'wizards'. Both existed in Bible times as they do today. So why then do we just have a reference to females here in Exodus 22? Perhaps Guzik is correct when he talks about sorcery being almost always associated with ‘medicinal arts’ – something perhaps (and I say this at great risk of offending some today), was more associated with females at the time. After all, we more often refer to a ‘witch’s brew’ than we do to one concocted by a wizard. Also, one such witch or sorceress that was actually described in Scripture did become known as the Witch of Endor (see I Samuel 28). She is depicted in the painting pictured above The Witch of Endor painted in 1857 by Dimitri Martynov. An earlier painting entitled The Shade of Samuel Invoked by Saul painted by Bernardo Cavallino about 1650-1656 can be seen here.
And finally why was this law introduced here as part of the passage on pre-marital sex? I do not know the actual answer. But I can only imagine that the writer (Moses) was thousands of years ahead of his time because as we search the Internet for images of sorceresses today, we are presented with pictures and drawings of extremely seductive (in some people’s minds) women – the kind that deep down only have one’s spiritual and moral demise in mind and all through his desire for sexual pleasure.
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