Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Responsibility For Other’s Property

Deuteronomy 22:1-4

“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.  And if thy brother be not nigh unto thee, or if thou know him not, then thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him again.  In like manner shalt thou do with his ass; and so shalt thou do with his raiment; and with all lost thing of thy brother's, which he hath lost, and thou hast found, shalt thou do likewise: thou mayest not hide thyself.

Thou shalt not see thy brother's ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again.” (Deuteronomy 22:1-44)

There was to be a sense of responsibility to protect each others property.  If another’s property was found, it was to be returned to it’s owner if possible.  If the owner was not known, the property was to be kept for the owner, whether livestock or some inanimate property.  A person was not to act as if they had not seen the thing regardless of the loss of ones time. Or energy in recovering the object or animal.  There was to be no “finders keepers.”

Distinction of Sexes
Deuteronomy 22:5

“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5)

This verse has often been used to forbid women wearing trousers, claiming that they are man’s apparel.  Such a stance ignores the fact that men’s apparel in that day was a robe.  The breeches described for the priests were an undergarment and were not standard men’s clothing either.  While both men and women wore robes, they were obviously different, and the verse actually refers to men and women wearing clothing that distinguishes between sexes.  It is just as much an abomination for a man to dress as a woman as for a woman to dress as a man.

Today it is common for men to try to pass themselves off as women, to dress in drag, and it is not unusual for women to pose as men, to be “butch”, and especially in homosexual circles.  This is what the verse is referring to as an abomination.  Over the years, I have observed that some of those most opposed to women wearing pants have dressed as women to participate in a skit for teenagers or have been involved in homosexual activity.   I suspect their stance was just a smokescreen for their own sin.

Ecological protection
Deuteronomy 22:6-7

“If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young: But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.” (Deuteronomy 22:6-7) 

While one was free to eat birds, one was not to wipe out even an entire family,  They were to leave survivors who could reproduce so the bloodline would not be lost.  Preserving the different species would result in God’s blessing on the nation of Israel.   One of the benefits would be an ongoing source of food.   It is closely related to God’s command to Adam in Genesis 2:15.  “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”   God made man responsible for caring for the environment.

Unfortunately many ecologists overlook the other side of God’s command in Genesis 9:1-5.  “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.  And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.  Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.  And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man."

While man was to protect the wildlife, he was also permitted to eat them.  Animals which killed man were to be killed, as were people who killed people.  Man’s life was to be sacrosanct.  The ecologist who wishes to forbid all killing of animals and the person who sets out to wipe out a species are equally in sin.  There is to be a balance.

Protection Of Employees
Deuteronomy 22:8

 "When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence.” (Deuteronomy 22:8)

A railing or parapet was to be provided to prevent  workers falling from the roof of a building.  The owner would be held liable if someone was injured or killed as a result of neglect of such and obvious danger.  While most jurisdictions today do not require such a railing, the owner or employer is still liable for someone falling from a roof.  OSHA requires that safety measures be in place to prevent such a fall.

Ensuring Quality And Viability Of Seed
Deuteronomy 22:9

 “Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled.” (Deuteronomy 22:9)

Sowing similar crops such as melons, and squash in close proximity can result in cross pollination and hybridization.   This results in a loss of the distinctive features of the various crops and sometimes in sterile plants.  Isolating the various crops would ensure maintenance of seed quality,  Modern seed producers use the same principle to ensure quality of the seeds they produce.

Unequal Combinations Were to Be Avoided
Deuteronomy 22:10-11

“Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.” (Deuteronomy 22:10)

An ox is several times as strong as a donkey, but quite a bit slower.  The result is that in plowing or heavy pulling, both animals are overtaxed, with the donkey being forced to work beyond his strength, while the ox pulls more than his share of the load. It is not fair to either one.

“Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.” (Deuteronomy 22:11) 

Wool has a great wicking and water and heat holding properties.  Linen more readily loses both heat and water.  When mixed together, the person was more likely to sweat which would then be retained by the wool, leading to the linen rotting.  Lower temperatures in the north eastern United States reduced the problems of using linsey woolsey cloth for winter clothing,   It wasn’t satisfactory in the southern states, however.

Garments Were To Be Fringed
Deuteronomy 22:12

“Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself.” (Deuteronomy 22:12)

Edges of their garments were to be fringed.  This ensured the cloth would not unravel, but the primary purpose seems to have been to distinguish them from other groups, as a hem or tape would have served the same purpose.

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