Devotionals Archive

Daybreak: Deuteronomy 21:1 through 22:30

Jan 23, 2021

“Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy brother.” (Deuteronomy 22:1)

It was always funny to receive a phone call letting us know that our pigs were downtown. No, this was not a big city. Downtown consisted of a gas station, restaurant, general store, and a couple other businesses. I worked at a farm supply store just a few blocks off the main road, and we raised pigs on the side. Occasionally, they would find a way under or through the fence, and follow the railroad tracks that led to the main street in town.

Fortunately, it was a close-knit community and our neighbors would help us round them up and guide them back to their pens. If our neighbors had chosen to ignore them or refused to help, the outcome could have been disastrous. The pigs could have endangered themselves and those in vehicles traveling on the main road, or fallen prey to other animals. Assisting someone in need was an expected courtesy in our town.

Even in large cities today, many communities and neighborhoods have organized programs to watch out for one another in order to prevent crime, and to protect children and property. These types of programs help promote friendship among the participants and often make for better neighborhoods.

In Matthew 7:12, the Lord gave us the Golden Rule when He said, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” Just as God expected the Children of Israel to care for one another, He has given His followers today the responsibility of demonstrating His love by helping others in need.

You might never be required to corral somebody’s livestock, but you may be needed to encourage a friend, pray for a co-worker, help a neighbor, tend to an ill person, or assist an elderly person. You will find that the blessing one feels for having done his part in honoring the Lord outweighs the blessing to the person in need.


Prior to entering the Promised Land, God gave laws to the Children of Israel, among them certain civil and social laws. In the event of an unsolved murder, procedures were given to deliver the affected community of guilt. The elders took a heifer that had never been worked into an uncultivated valley. Next to a flowing stream, they cut off its head. This cruel act symbolized the tragedy of the murdered person. The elders then washed their hands over the slain heifer to show the community’s freedom from the guilt and testimony of their innocence.

If an Israelite soldier desired a captive woman, he was permitted to marry her provided certain conditions were met. This protected the captive women and the integrity of the soldiers. One of the conditions called for the woman to mourn for her parents for one full month. This gave the prospective husband the opportunity to re-consider his decision.

Favoritism was an inevitable problem due to polygamous marriages. The eldest son was to be given a “double portion” of the inheritance, regardless of his father’s preference of wives. A rebellious son could be stoned to death if his parents felt unable to bring him under their authority, and this action was validated by the elders of the city. This must have been a powerful deterrent, for no record of this punishment is found in the Bible.

The roof of a house served many purposes. It provided a place for sleeping in the summertime, performing household chores, and entertaining. Because of the danger this created, a protective short wall called a “parapet” was to be built around the outside edge. The homeowner was held liable if an accident occurred and there was no parapet around the roof of his house.

If a man committed adultery with a married woman, both received the death penalty. It is not said by what means this was to be carried out.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)

II.   The second discourse: exposition of the Law
      C.   The exposition of the principle laws of Israel
            2.   Civil legislation
                  e.   Miscellaneous civil laws (21:1-23)
                       (1)   The expiation of an unknown murderer’s crime (21:1-9)
                       (2)   Laws concerning the treatment of female captives (21:10-14)
                       (3)   Laws concerning the rights of the first born (21:15-17)
                       (4)    Laws concerning a rebellious son (21:18-21)
                       (5)   Laws concerning the treatment of a criminal’s corpse (21:22-23)
            3.   Social legislation
                  a.   Laws concerning lost property (22:1-4)
                  b.   Laws concerning woman’s dress (22:5)
                  c.   Laws concerning bird-life (22:6-7)
                  d.   Laws concerning home safety (22:8)
                  e.   Laws concerning common distinctions (22:9-12)
                  f.   Laws concerning personal or family morality
                       (1)   Concerning sexual sins (22:13-30)
                              (a)   The charge of a wife’s unchastity (22:13-21)
                              (b)   The charge of adultery (22:22)
                              (c)   The charge of intercourse with a betrothed virgin (22:23-24)
                              (d)   The charge of rape with a betrothed virgin (22:25-27)
                              (e)   The charge of rape of a virgin (22:28-29)
                              (f)   The charge of intercourse with a father’s former wife (22:30)

A Closer Look

  1. Name the three mixtures that the Lord prohibited. 
  2. Why would the Lord require the death penalty for a son who was found to be rebellious?
  3. What obligations do you have to your neighbors?


Israel’s laws covered a range of topics from the proper handling of a bird’s nest to dealing with unsolved murders. This illustrates that God is interested in guiding every aspect of our lives. The blessings of His guidance become a source of blessing to our neighbors as we practice the Golden Rule.

Reference Materials