Deuteronomy 23 – 26
Today’s texts don’t seem to present much problem, but as we go through the Bible, we’ll find these chapters will give us things to look back at.
The sins of the fathers
As we continue through the Bible we’ll have to look at this subject more in depth, it’s not something I completely grasp.
What is evident is the fact that children can suffer consequences of their parents behaviour, that doesn’t seem to be an issue in Christian doctrine. What is an issue is whether or not God actively punishes the children. Deuteronomy 24:16 seems to say no, but despite this, the idea that God did punish for ancestors sins persisted into Ezekiel’s time. This seems strange because this verse is referenced before that, but we’ll get to that later.
I don’t think there’s a doctrine so emphatically refuted in the Bible as ancestral sin, but I’ve heard of people peddling this belief today. So I’ll just chuck in a bit in support of that position even though I disagree with it. In today’s reading it tells us that illegitimate children won’t be accepted into the congregation of God (23:2). I’d be interested for any theories on why this was so important to God. Mean time, one could say that the child is being punished because of his/her parent’s immorality. Then one has a contradiction, which (I’d imagine) the proposer of ancestral sin would remove by explaining that 24:16 simply removes the death penalty as an option in these case. Like I said, I’ll be charitable, but I’m reasonably certain that Ezekiel does thoroughly refute this idea, and you can decide for yourself when we get there.
Followers of this blog will likely have an idea of how I feel about corporal punishment, and yet here it is. While I’m not going to try to put myself in the historical climate where this could be reasonable, and try to justify it, I do need to say something in it’s defence.
The forty stripes was a maximum, and not a standard, this is reasonably obvious. There was to be a judge to oversee the punishment to make sure that it wasn’t overly brutal. The combination of these to was to try to preserve some of the mans dignity (as stated in the text) and to preserve his life.
Here is an interesting addition to the slavery issue. If your slave runs away and hides in your neighbours house, then your neighbour would be compelled to look after him/her and not turn him/her over to you. Which would make it very difficult to keep a slave that you were treating badly. If only all those “good Christian Southerners” had thought about that during the US slave trade.
What are your thoughts?
Please give the reading through the Bible page a look if you haven’t already, there are some background posts and the index to this reading plan. Share it with others who you think can benefit from Reading the Bible.