Deuteronomy 12-26: Moses Second Speech Part 2

Part three of Deuteronomy covers the second half of Moses’s second speech/sermon. Each chapter goes into deeper detail on the things that were covered in several previous places. Here is the breakdown:

  • Chapter twelve
    • Sacrifices when they get into the land that was promised
    • warning against worshipping idols and even worshipping God in the way that the disposessed people had worshipped their gods.
    • Moses is careful to include this final line – “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.”
  • Chapter thirteen – Following God and not being led astray by people who say to worship other gods
  • Chapter fourteen
    • Don’t cut yourself or shave your head in mourning
    • Which animals they can eat, the others are abominations – also nothing that has died naturally which I had never heard before
    • Some instructions on tithing that are kinda new, like what to do when you don’t have enough to tithe
  • Chapter fifteen – Rules for the Sabbath year
    • Release all debts given to fellow Israelites
    • Generously lend to each other what might be needed to get through
    • No Hebrew slaves shall be kept for more than seven years
    • Reminder not to sacrifice any animals with blemishes to God
  • Chapter sixteen
    • Reminder to do the following feasts:
      • Passover
      • Feast of Weeks
      • Feast of Booths
    • Appointing judges and what they do
    • some forms of worship that are forbidden start here and continue
  • Chapter seventeen
    • continuation of forbidden forms of worship
    • punishment for those who are guilty of worshiping or serving other gods – also that they require at least two corroborating witnesses and the witnesses have to be the first to throw the stones
    • then we get back to the judges and doing exactly what they tell them to do – along with a warning to not act presumptuously
    • appointing kings and some rules for them
  • Chapter eighteen
    • provision for Levites
    • some practices that are considered abominable that the Israelites shall not do (fortunetelling and the like)
    • more prophets to come
  • Chapter nineteen
    • how to decide where the refuge cities will be and their proper use
    • rules about witnesses; the amount necessary and what to do when someone is a false witness
  • Chapter twenty – Rules about war
    • instruction to not fear bigger armies, God is with them
    • reasons to be excused from war
    • actions to take if a city is taken peacefully or not
  • Chapter twenty one
    • what to do for unresolved murders
    • taking female captives as wives – yes, I take some issue here. There are some rules that speak to her recent plight being respected but she doesn’t seem to have a choice about becoming a wife. It does also say that if the husband doesn’t want to be married to her anymore, he ‘shall let her go where she wants’ and that he can’t sell her or start treating like she was a slave. I read it as she can decide where she will live after he doesn’t want her anymore. I like that she doesn’t revert to being a slave as soon as she isn’t his wife anymore. But then it ends with “since you have humiliated her.”Theoretically, the marriage process shouldn’t be humiliating and she hopefully wasn’t raped in the marriage bed, though I suppose it isn’t a guarantee. He can’t sell her or treat her as slave. Where is she being humiliated? We can really only guess and it doesn’t look good for the marriage process, which I had really hoped went better, since it didn’t sound perfectly awful in the beginning. I don’t know.
    • which firstborn counts
    • what to do with a rebellious son (does the plural mean that daughters count here? this would be one of those places where it would be more pleasant to take exception since he gets stoned to death for it, but I have issues with all kinds of inequality, so pleasantness does mean that I actually support that idea)
    • that a man hanged on a tree is cursed – this is particularly interesting because I don’t know why a man would be hanged, all the putting to death is supposed to be stoning. Unless I missed something ….
  • Chapter twenty two
    • missing/stray animals
    • no crossdressing
    • something about birds nests and the mothers
    • building a parapet on a new house
    • no two kinds of seeds, don’t plow with a donkey and ox together, and no mixing of linen and wool
    • some very disconcerting things about the importance of virginity – I mean, really. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a believer in casual sex. I get that it’s for some but I find it prudent to be a little more picky about who touches me and how. Some aren’t and that’s cool for them. On the other hand, mandating virginity has it’s own set of issues, especially at this level. The whole thing is just gruesome and horrible. Also, it is only important for the bride to be a virgin. Or is it because women are the only one’s who leave evidence or there could be a lack of it? In this case, the girl is stoned to death if it’s true and the man is whipped and fined if it isn’t. He’s also not allowed to divorce her, EVER. I’m not so sure the real punishment there is on the man, but then I suppose that could vary based on the nature and humor of the bride.
    • man sleeping with another man’s wife – both put to death, I can get behind the equality of that, but I’m not so sure death isn’t a little overboard.
    • this next one is a little more odd. I think I get that the basic sentiment is that if a woman has sex with a man in the city and doesn’t “cry out” or scream for help, as I interpret it, than they can only assume it was consensual. If she does scream for help, then they know it isn’t. It sucks to bring consent down to this level but there’s a part of me that understands it. Don’t get me wrong, a much bigger part of me knows much more about the ways that sexual assault and rape happen to think that this in any way encompasses the situations. I see that they’re trying. While this first part sounds bad, the next one brings it up a little. The next one says that the woman is to be believed regardless of what the man says if they were outside of earshot of other people or, to be exact, “in the country”. This deviates from the previous requirements of two witnesses to do any sentencing for the crimes to which people are accused. By the way these only go for the betrothed virgin.
    • an unbetrothed virgin that is seized and laid with and found out about is required to marry whoever that guy is. Seized sounds to me like she was assaulted or raped by today’s terminology, which makes the marrying horrible. It just compounds the problem. However, I do get how this situation counteracts the one above with the whole requirement of virginity. That turns a few rules that feel misguided by today’s standard into a system that makes being a woman seem unbearable. If you were not a virgin anymore because you were raped, the rapist is required to take care of you for the rest of your life, no matter what his actual feelings about it. That makes the man take a certain amount of responsibility for ruining her chances of getting married in the future. At the same time, it couldn’t possibly help her mental or physical situation.
    • last one before the end of the chapter is that “a man shall not take his father’s wife, so that he does not uncover his father’s nakedness.” Weird and gross, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s talking about his mom. There can be more than one wife, so she may be the new young one closer to his age and drama, drama, drama. But does that mean that the punishment is not the same one as for taking a neighbor’s wife but the one for uncovering his father’s nakedness? That’s what it sounds like to me.
  • Chapter twenty three
    • some exclusions. there’s actually quite a few and they’re pretty harsh, even going against some people who can’t help their circumstances, but then a surprise inclusion of the third generation of Edomites and Egyptians. Weird, if you ask me.
    • some rules about being unclean that sound more like a restriction to not defecate in the camp but to designate a spot outside for that sort of thing
    • then there are some laws listed under a miscellaneous heading
      • don’t return run away slaves
      • no sons or daughters of Israel shall be cult prostitutes
      • something about fees that are abominations
      • no interest on loans to fellow Israelites
      • fulfill vows immediately, or without delay
      • what sounds like some lawful theft of food. You may eat as much as you want, but no to-go bag if you are starving or in certain ways disadvantaged
  • Chapter twenty four
    • Divorce – a man can divorce his wife but if she marries someone else afterward, he can’t remarry her
    • another miscellaneous heading
      • newlywed men aren’t liable to go to war for one year
      • no mill or millstone in pledge because somehow it’s a life he takes
      • no enslaving fellow Israelites (then who is the slave that must be set free in the Sabbath year?)
      • remember the protocol to keep with lepers
      • remember what God did to Miriam
      • protocol about collecting pledges for debts, sounds like collateral in today’s language
      • do not oppress a poor or needy hired worker whether Israelite or sojourner
      • children and parents are not to be put to death for each others sins
      • don’t pervert justice
      • some ways they are required to leave food for the sojourner, fatherless and widowed.
  • Chapter twenty five
    • restriction on the number of stripes (or lashings, I think) that can be given in punishment
    • no muzzling of oxen
    • duty of a dead husband’s brother. I’m sure there’s some more delicate way to approach this situation but I think it just sounds like something I don’t want to be a part of at all. Not everyone likes their in-laws. But then it gets really weird if he doesn’t want to do it. But she doesn’t appear to have a choice in the matter. Like it’s assumed that she wants more kids and will even go with the brother to get there.
    • another miscellaneous heading
      • why would a woman even grab a guy’s package while he is fighting her husband? I don’t get it. but her hand would be cut off in this instance.
      • more two kinds to have or not have
      • don’t forget what Amalek did to them
  • Chapter twenty six – this last one is what to do when they finally get to the land that was promised and it begins to bear it’s first fruits.


Note: there’s a part in Whipping Girl, where Serano mentions the way we talk about sex and how women are “taken” or “given” instead of being the ones to take or give. We’re commonly the passive ones in the language of sex. It would be interesting to see how different the chapter twenty two passages and inferences might read of we were not. As in, we are not “seized” or “taken” when having consensual sex, only when being assaulted or raped. That might clear some things up, but those words can be used to talk about consensual sex, so it makes the situation confusing.

So there are my feelings and impressions on chapters 12-26 of Deuteronomy. Have you read it? What do you think?

Chapter links go to the ESV translations at but I’m reading from the ESV Global Study Bible, which is available for free on the Kindle Reading App.


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