Ways of life regulations. Captive women must have their hair cut in order to marry an Israelite.

Day 77 (March 18): Captive wives, firstborn rights, unruly sons, rules on living, chaste, worship laws, Edomites and Egyptians may worship, other regulations

Credit: Wong Chim Yuen

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19
(1406 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Deuteronomy 21:15-17): I’m confused.  I didn’t think God cared about birth order.  We saw that with the story of Jacob and Esau and Joseph and his brothers, among others.  Can you explain if “firstborn rights” are truly handed from God?  If so, why the contradiction with the earlier stories?

A. There’s not a contradiction in my mind.  What I have said on previous occasions is that God does not make considerations of birth order when selecting people for HIS purposes.  The people he selected and chose to bless (Jacob, Joseph, Isaac, etc.) were not the firstborn sons, but this does not mean that God makes no consideration for the way that society ran at that time: the firstborn son was to be given the largest share of the inheritance in order to maintain the family heritage from generation to generation.  This is very much in keeping with what God is doing here: setting up a society that will prosper, and be able to keep the land that God gives them.  In this time period, the best way to ensure land was passed from generation to generation fairly was that the firstborn son got the “lion’s share”.  But when it comes to who God desires to use for His purposes, birth order does not, and will not, matter.  Wait until we see how He picks King David.

O. (22:8): This sounds like modern-day legal issues.  How funny they are relevant today.  Luckily, not that many people have to get on roofs.

O. (22:20-21): I have just now realized another way of preventative measures the Israelites had in place: discouragement.  If they don’t obey, they get stoned.

Q. (23:1): Do I dare ask, how this could happen?

A. Well, I suppose it could have been the result of an attack or accident, but basically, this is talking about eunuchs: male slaves who had their genitals removed (usually as boys) as part of their entry into a life of slavery.  This could be because of the work they were assigned, such as with women, but also because by removing the man’s genitals, it would, in theory, prevent him from focusing on his own plans for family or personal gain.  Eunuchs were therefore considered good and desirable workers who would be loyal to their masters.  I am unclear what it is about being castrated that got them excluded from the assembly but I can tell you that one of the first Christian converts is a Ethiopian eunuch.  This is just one more place where the work of Jesus Christ brings salvation to ALL people, even those who had been previously excluded.

O. (24:5): If only this was valid today.  A one-year honeymoon would be wonderful!

Q. (25:5-6): Didn’t the NT revoke this law?  The law was just for the Israelites to protect the family lines?

A. Be careful with the terminology.  Nothing about the NT revoked the ways of the OT, it simply replaced them with a different system, that was not dependent upon human effort.  But the answer to your question is yes, this was all about protecting family lines.  This is actually the way that Ruth will be able to claim a new husband in her story coming up.

Q. (25:7-10) What?  More comedy?  Was having a sandal pulled off disgraceful?

A. I’m not sure.  It appears that this is an attempt at public shaming, in order to, once again, maintain family lines.  These verses will also come into play in Ruth.

Q. (25:11-12): The testicles hold the seed of the family lines?  So, harming them is a huge offense?

A. I think that’s part of it.  But also, since this law is set up based upon rules of retaliation (eye for an eye), and since the woman would, obviously, not have the parts in question, the hand is selected for the reprisal.  Isn’t that fun!

For further study: Having trouble accepting how they lived in Bible times?  Have you heard of presentism?
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/thereligioushistorynerd/2022/10/presentism-in-religious-history/
https://www.voicesandimages.com/presentism-dont-judge-ancestors-actions-by-todays-standards/

Shop: Share the source of Truth by wearing this Livin’ Light shirt: https://livinlight.org/product/truth/

Tomorrow’s reading: Deuteronomy 26-29:1

Israel gets organized. NLT Bible open to the introduction of Numbers. Tribes assigned place in camp, Levites to serve priests, Levites register, Firstborn sons redeemed through Levites

Day 58 (Feb. 27): Tribes assigned place in camp, Levites serve as priests, Levites register, Firstborn sons redeemed through Levites

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Numbers 2-3
(1445 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Numbers 2-3): Why is the number of people and the number of eligible warriors important to Bible readers?

A. Honestly, there’s not a great answer to that question for us today.  To the original readers (ancient Jews), this section would have been important as it relates to their own genealogy, something we have established is an important purpose of the OT.  This section — I’ll count chapters 1-3 — provides information on the current tribal leaders in the wilderness (1:5-15), the marching order for the army (note who’s out in front, Judah’s tribe, not Reuben’s), the arrangement of the camp, and a section for the genealogy of the Levites.  These are important considerations for this early post-Exodus nation.  Jews to this day use the Exodus as a marker or divider of time and history, the way Christians do with the Incarnation in the move between BC and AD.  So to them, this is a very crucial period between their ancestor’s freedom and the establishment of their own kingdom.

Q. (3:14): Can you tell us why the Levites were chosen for holy work?

A. No, I can’t tell you, because I don’t know.  God does not ever fully reveal the reason He selected the Levites for this task, only that He has chosen them.  It might be because Moses and Aaron were of that tribe, but ultimately, it is an issue of God’s sovereign choice.

But this passage (v. 11-13) does provide some interesting insight into the mindset that God is using: the Levities are designated to be the “first born” of the tribe, which from the Passover God tells us that the “first borns” belong to Him.  They were to be a people set apart, as a representation of the entire nation, in the same way that the entire nation was to be set apart from the world around them.  So you could say the Levites were “chosen” by God in the same representative manner that the entire nation was “chosen”  Why them?  Only God knows!

Q. (3:43): The number of firstborns in this verse (22,273) seems much too small for a population of that many people.  What gives?

A. Actually, you’ve hit on one of the major problems of this text: what to do with the large numbers the text presents.  If added together (I looked it up, I didn’t calculate this number myself), you get a population of somewhere around 2 million people, which seems a bit too large for this period.  There are a few ways of looking at how the number is reached, but ultimately there is no definitive answer.  One way, for example, is that the Hebrew word for “thousand” is not actually what the word means here.  I wouldn’t get too hung up on the numbers: the most important thing that we can discern from this census is that the population had grown substantially in Egypt from the 12 sons of Jacob, and they will use this growth and mustered army to become a powerful nation, with God’s help, in the book of Joshua.

For further study: God choosing Levites rooted in loyalty: https://www.dubiousdisciple.com/2012/10/numbers-310-12-why-were-the-levites-selected-for-the-priesthood.html 

Shop: Realizing that God speaks TRUTH, fuels a desire to follow him. https://livinlight.org/product/truth-pepper/

Tomorrow’s reading: Numbers 4-5

 

Israelites flee Egypt God instructed Moses to raise his staff and He would part the waters of the Red Sea for the Israelites. credit: Moody Publishers / FreeBibleimages.org.

Day 36 (Feb. 5): Firstborn dedication to God, road less traveled, the chase is on, parting waters, song of deliverance, quenched thirst

Moody Publishers / FreeBibleimages.org.

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Exodus 16-19
(1446 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Exodus 13:1): What does it mean by dedicate the first offspring of animals and firstborn son?

A. Since God had delivered the Israelites (including their animals) from the tenth plague, He had by implication “bought” them.  They belonged to Him, and the consecration ceremony (circumcision, and an animal sacrifice where it could be afforded- we’ll see this in Leviticus) was the reminder of the status of the relationship and the importance of the firstborn in God’s deliverance from Egypt.

Q. (13:3): Why can’t they eat bread with yeast?  I’m guessing it’s to remind them of leaving Egypt and that God delivered them from the suffering?

A. Correct.  In more modern traditions (including the NT), yeast has come to be seen as the seed of evil (a little goes a long way), and also the result of human effort, since yeast is cultivated for human use.  Baking bread without yeast would imply a product created without human effort, which is one of the major implications of this story: nothing that happened in the Exodus story was the result of human effort, but rather by God’s desire to teach His people about relationship with Him.  So we might think of unleavened bread as “Godly bread” that requires no human addition.

Q. (13:9): Is this the Ash Wednesday practice celebrating the Lord bringing them out of Israel?  The Passover is a celebration of the Angel of Death passing over, right?  The celebration of the Israelites escaping Egypt is a different celebration?

A. No, Ash Wednesday is unrelated to this story.  A.W. is a Christian tradition marking the 40-day period of Lent that leads up to Easter.  Typically, the spirit was one of repentance and fasting (sound familiar?), and since ashes were a symbol of mourning and repentance, they became the symbol of the date.  Ashes also mark the mortality of our lives, which is another aspect of this date on the church calendar.  If you are reading this in early February, Ash Wednesday is coming soon!

Q. (13:13): Can you explain the buyback?  And, the braking the donkey’s neck?

A. Oh, more animal brutality!  Will this never end?  OK, so when the NLT uses the word buy back, the NIV renders this “redeem”.  What it meant was that when a male donkey (and by implication other animals, though it may only refer to pack animals- I’m honestly not sure) was born, it was required to be redeemed or “bought back” from God by sacrificing a lamb or young goat (a Passover offering) in its place.  If this was not done (i.e. if the owner didn’t want to provide the sacrifice), the animal was to be killed.  My notes indicate that pack animals such as donkeys were incredibly valuable to this society, which is why it was cost effective to offer up a goat or lamb over a donkey.  So basically, the buy back was another way to remember the way that God delivered the firstborn in Egypt by using the lamb’s blood.

Q. (15:13-17): The Israelites are obviously in awe of God’s power here and happy that they are out of the Egyptians’ rule.  In these verses, are they thinking that going to the promised land will be a walk in the park?

A. Good question, and I don’t really know the answer.  It would appear so.  But bad times will await the Israelites in the desert: this moment of triumph and faith in God and Moses won’t last.

Q. (15:19): Was this the end of the Egyptians?

A. No.  Regardless of the implications of this story, Egypt continued to be a major player in the Middle East, and will be for the duration of this story.  They will actually play a key role in the reasons for the downfall of the Kingdom of Israel.

Further reading: Archeological evidence supports the exodus of Israelites from Egypt. https://evidence-for-the-bible.com/archeological-evidence-for-the-bible/archeological-evidence-for-the-red-sea-crossing/

Tomorrow’s reading: Exodus 16-19