DEUTERONOMY LESSON 23
We will begin this lesson in Deuteronomy 21:1 "If [one] be found
slain in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it,
lying in the field, [and] it be not known who hath slain him:"
These next few verses show us the sacredness of human life to
God. It appears, this person has been murdered.
Deuteronomy 21:2 "Then thy elders and thy judges shall come
forth, and they shall measure unto the cities which [are] round about
him that is slain:"
This measuring of the distances to the cities, is to find out who
is responsible to take care of this. Someone has a responsibility for
it. The elders and judges are seeing which city is the closest to the
Deuteronomy 21:3 "And it shall be, [that] the city [which is]
next unto the slain man, even the elders of that city shall take an
heifer, which hath not been wrought with, [and] which hath not drawn
in the yoke;"
This would be a young heifer, which has not been with a bull. The
heifer would be young enough that they had never worked her with a
yoke either. The heifer must come from the nearest city. The elders
will bring the heifer to the sight of the dead body.
Deuteronomy 21:4 "And the elders of that city shall bring down
the heifer unto a rough valley, which is neither eared nor sown, and
shall strike off the heifer's neck there in the valley:"
This has to be a field that is not in cultivation. The elders
will cut off the head of the heifer there.
Deuteronomy 21:5 "And the priests the sons of Levi shall come
near; for them the LORD thy God hath chosen to minister unto him, and
to bless in the name of the LORD; and by their word shall every
controversy and every stroke be [tried]:"
Taking a life is not just criminal, but is a spiritual sin. The
priests are to settle this matter. The whole town would be counted
guilty of this sin, if it is not settled.
Deuteronomy 21:6 "And all the elders of that city, [that are]
next unto the slain [man], shall wash their hands over the heifer that
is beheaded in the valley:"
This is like Pilate washing his hands of Jesus' crucifixion. When
they wash their hands over the heifer, they are proclaiming their
innocence of the shedding of this man's blood.
Deuteronomy 21:7 "And they shall answer and say, Our hands have
not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen [it]."
They are saying, they have no knowledge of this murder.
Deuteronomy 21:8 "Be merciful, O LORD, unto thy people Israel,
whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of
Israel's charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them."
This is a plea for God to forgive them of all blame of this
innocent blood. The blood of the heifer causes God to believe them,
and forgive them.
Deuteronomy 21:9 "So shalt thou put away the [guilt of] innocent
blood from among you, when thou shalt do [that which is] right in the
sight of the LORD."
After they have killed the heifer and washed their hands over
her, their conscience is clear. They are forgiven of God.
Deuteronomy 21:10 "When thou goest forth to war against thine
enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands,
and thou hast taken them captive,"
This is spoken as if it had already happened. It will happen,
because it is the will of God for it to happen. The message they are
about to hear is for the time, after they have won the war.
Deuteronomy 21:11 "And seest among the captives a beautiful
woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy
It is likely that this very thing would happen with all of the
young men in the war. This speaks of him falling in love with the
woman, and wants her to be his wife. It is not speaking of rape.
Deuteronomy 21:12 "Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house;
and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;"
This is a sign of extreme mourning. It would also make her not
quite as desirable to the man, until her time of mourning is up.
Deuteronomy 21:13 "And she shall put the raiment of her captivity
from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father
and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her,
and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife."
She shall be permitted a month to mourn her lost loved ones. This
month will, also, give her a time to get accustomed to her captor. At
the end of the month of mourning, he can take her to wife. She will be
treated as a wife, and not a slave.
Deuteronomy 21:14 "And it shall be, if thou have no delight in
her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not
sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her,
because thou hast humbled her."
If after a short time, he finds that he does not really love this
woman, he shall let her go wherever she wants to go. She was his wife.
He must treat her with respect. She was not a slave to be bought or
sold, but his wife.
Deuteronomy 21:15 "If a man have two wives, one beloved, and
another hated, and they have born him children, [both] the beloved and
the hated; and [if] the firstborn son be hers that was hated:"
Jacob found himself in this position with Leah and Rachel. He
loved Rachel, his second wife. He did not hate Leah, but he did not
choose her as his wife. Both, Rachel and Leah, bore Jacob sons.
Deuteronomy 21:16 "Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to
inherit [that] which he hath, [that] he may not make the son of the
beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, [which is indeed] the
This is saying that, even though he hates the woman who bore him
a son first, he cannot take the firstborn heritage away from the son,
and give it to the son of the woman he loves.
Deuteronomy 21:17 "But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated
[for] the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he
hath: for he [is] the beginning of his strength; the right of the
firstborn [is] his."
He cannot choose who his firstborn is. God does that. He must
give to his son, who was born first, the double portion, which is the
heritage of the firstborn son. The firstborn inherited twice as much
as any of the other sons. This provision for the firstborn to receive
a double portion is not mentioned elsewhere.
Deuteronomy 21:18 "If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son,
which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his
mother, and [that], when they have chastened him, will not hearken
Rebellion was thought of as witchcraft. I Samuel 15:23 "For
rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as]
iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the
LORD, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king." To have a
rebellious son, was a disgrace with the Hebrews. One of the ten
commandments was to obey father and mother. It seemed the parents had
chastened him, to no improvement.
Deuteronomy 21:19 "Then shall his father and his mother lay hold
on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the
gate of his place;"
This is a place of judgement. It seems, his parents forcefully
brought him to be judged.
Deuteronomy 21:20 "And they shall say unto the elders of his
city, This our son [is] stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our
voice; [he is] a glutton, and a drunkard."
Now, we see more sins added to the fact that he is rebellious. He
is a glutton and a drunkard. Glutton, in the verse above, is not just
speaking of over-eating, but of him being a prodigal son. He would
have to be a very large problem, for his own family to bring him to be
Deuteronomy 21:21 "And all the men of his city shall stone him
with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you;
and all Israel shall hear, and fear."
The punishment is severe. He is stoned to death by the men of the
city. We see no instances of where a loving Hebrew parent has done
this. Perhaps, it was given for a warning to the rebellious. The story
of the prodigal son in the Bible, is a story of forgiveness of the
Deuteronomy 21:22 "And if a man have committed a sin worthy of
death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree:"
Hanging was one form of putting someone to death. At a much later
time, crucifying was spoken of as hanging on a tree.
Deuteronomy 21:23 "His body shall not remain all night upon the
tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is
hanged [is] accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the
LORD thy God giveth thee [for] an inheritance."
Man is made in the image of God. Then, it would be a terrible
thing to hang man on a tree. This cursed thing must be buried in the
ground before dark. Galatians 3:13 "Christ hath redeemed us from the
curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed
[is] every one that hangeth on a tree:"
Deuteronomy 23 Questions
1. What have they found in verse 1?
2. It appears this person has been ____________.
3. What shall the judges and the elders do?
4. Who is responsible for this?
5. The heifer they brought had not been with a _______.
6. What was another sign this was a young heifer?
7. This is a field that is not in ___________.
8. What do they do with the heifer?
9. Who comes near to bless?
10. Taking a life is not just criminal but a __________ sin.
11. What shall the elders of the city do to show their innocence?
12. Be merciful, O LORD, unto thy people _________.
13. What is verse 8 speaking of?
14. What does the sacrificing of the heifer, and the washing of their
hands, do for them?
15. The beautiful woman among the captives, he desired to be his
16. What was he to do to her, when he first got her to his house?
17. How long was she allowed to mourn for her relatives?
18. When shall he take her to his wife?
19. What should he do with her, if he does not love her?
20. Why should he not sell her?
21. What happens to the firstborn son, if he does not love his mother?
22. Who chooses who is the firstborn?
23. Rebellion is thought of as ______________.
24. Quote 1 Samuel chapter 15 verse 23.
25. What should his mother and father do with the rebellious son?
26. Was there ever an instance of this?
27. The story of the prodigal son is a story of what?
28. What was another type of death that was classified as hanging?
29. Why should the person who is hung not remain on the tree
30. Quote Galatians chapter 3 verse 13.