Friday, April 25, 2014

Establishing Penalties For Crimes

Leviticus 24:1-23

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually. 

Without the veil of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the LORD continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations.  He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the LORD continually.” (Leviticus 24:1-4)

Pure olive oil was to be provided to keep the lamps on the golden candlestick burning continuously, with them filled every evening to go all night.  The high priest was responsible to see they were cleaned and filled to burn forever.

“And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake.  And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the LORD.  And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 

Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. And it shall be Aaron's and his sons'; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the LORD made by fire by a perpetual statute.” (Leviticus 24:5-9) 

Every Sabbath, twelve unleavened cakes consisting of about two and half quarts of flour were to be placed on the table of shew bread in two rows of six.  Frankincense was them placed on each row.  They were to serve as food for the priests, after another loaf was burned as a burnt offering.  Again this was a perpetual; statute, that there was always to be show bread on the table for the priests.

“And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp; And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the LORD, and cursed. 

And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:) And they put him in ward, that the mind of the LORD might be showed them.” (Leviticus 24:10-12)

Right after the law was given, an Israelite and a man of mixed blood, half Egyptian and half Israelite got into a fight.  The half Egyptian began to curse and swear, using God’s name.  He was arrested and held until they could find out what penalty God would require, since the penalties for breaking the law had not yet been established..

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him.  And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. 

And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.” (Leviticus 24:13-16)

Everyone who heard the man curse was to place their hand on his head, identifying themselves as witnesses to his crime.  Then the entire congregation was to stone him to death.  He was responsible for his own death, and the same penalty applied whether the person was a foreign visitor or a native born citizen.  Blaspheming God’s name indicated disrespect for God and death was the mandatory sentence.

“And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 24:17)

Justice demands that the person pay the same as he took from the other person.  If he took a person’s life, he should pay with his own life.  It is only fair he pay the same as he took.  Provision was made for accidentally causing someone’s death with the cities of refuge, but even with those a person gave up the life he had had before.  It was up to him to get to the city of refuge before he was caught.  If he failed, he was executed on the spot.

 “And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast.” (Leviticus 24:18)

If a person killed another man’s animal, he was required to replace it with an animal of equal value.

“And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him; Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again.” (Leviticus 24:19-20)

If a person caused another to be injured, they were to do the same thing to him as he had done to the other person.  That way he paid the same price as the one he injured.  Justice had been done, even though the injury had not been reversed.  Jesus said the same standard of Justice remains today in Matthew 5:18.  “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

His comments in Matthew 5:38-39 did not replace that standard of justice.  “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”  Instead, Christians were to voluntarily demonstrate God’s love for others by foregoing their right to justice in minor cases where no serious injury occurred.  It did call for a total reversal of the attitude of getting even many of the Jews harbored in Jesus’ day.  Retaliation tends to only make things worse.

“And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death.  Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 24:21-22) 

The same standard of justice was to apply to nonresidents as to citizens.  People who came to visit were to respect and obey the laws of the nation.  There was to be no diplomatic immunity or deportation if they broke the law.

“And Moses spake to the children of Israel, that they should bring forth him that had cursed out of the camp, and stone him with stones. And the children of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses.” (Leviticus 24:23)

With the penalties for crimes established, Moses ordered the half Egyptian who had blasphemed God executed, and the people performed the execution as commanded.

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