Series: Thru the Bible
Message – The Kinsman Redeemer – Deut. 25-26
Punishment for crimes
“(1) If there is a dispute between men, they are to go to court, and the judges will hear their case. They will clear the innocent and condemn the guilty. (2) If the guilty party deserves to be flogged, the judge will make him lie down and be flogged in his presence with the number of lashes appropriate for his crime. (3) He may be flogged with 40 lashes, but no more. Otherwise, if he is flogged with more lashes than these, your brother will be degraded in your sight.” – Degraded or vile as the KJV has it actually means belittled, lowered in personal value or shamed.
First I want you to realize one of the things Rob taught us in his class on “Growing Kids God’s Way” which has caught a lot of flack over the years from many people (some even in this church) but I have to tell you while no series is perfect, that series got more Biblically right than wrong!
In keeping with that teaching and this scripture – it is important to realize that there are consequences for actions both spiritual and natural. Spiritual consequences refer to those where man has wronged God by acting against His nature and therefore defiling His image which they bare. If not a Capital crime these always resulted in a sacrifice being offered to cover their sin. Then there are structured consequences which can be assigned by man for the wrongs against our fellow man. In Israel, God had a hand in assigning both. In civil disputes, God gave the judgment into the hands of the Judges who would determine if this crime warranted punishment. If so, they assigned a value to the crime and a number to the beatings – but God gave the cap to not exceed 40 strikes.
The word flogged brings thoughts which are almost certainly inappropriate to what was being prescribed by God. It is nearly certain that this was done to the underside of the feet on the arches rather than the back. There are 3 reasons which make this likely:
- Because whipping the feet was a typical form of punishment in the early world. Surprisingly, ours is one of the first generations where it has not been as widely practiced, though it was practiced even in America all the way up unto the late 1960s.
- The offender was made to lie down – something not really necessary for stripes on the back and in fact may have rendered such punishment too severe since there would be no allowance for give in a forward motion in response to the impact of the whip or rod.
- Due to the number given. This is referenced in the New Testament in reference to something other than scourging or flogging. We will read it later.
In more “civilized” societies, people were bound in a way as to restrain the feet from moving. This was done so as to not cause unwanted damage to the feet by hitting anything but the arch area which is particularly susceptible to pain, but which also are very resilient and quite capable of withstanding the hits.
In the ancient world, uncovering one’s feet in public was often considered:
- a form of humiliation
- social disgrace
- form of social shaming
It therefore makes sense that the brother who would not perform the rite of the Kinsman Redeemer had his sandal removed – as we will see in a few verses.
Since we know that at least some form of social stigma was associated with bare feet, it stands to reason that the beatings here mentioned were upon the bear undersides of the feet. It was a social shaming as well as a very painful, yet largely non-damaging form of punishment. If done correctly, the one punished in this way could literally walk away from their punishment under their own power.
Jews were exceedingly scrupulous in adhering to the letter of the law and, for fear of miscalculation, were desirous of keeping within the prescribed limit. The instrument used was formed of three cords, terminating in leather thongs, so that thirteen strokes of this counted as thirty-nine stripes. That this was different than flogging or being beaten on the back with rods seems evident by Paul’s reference to having been thus beaten by the Jews in this way AS WELL as beaten with rods.
2Cor. 11:23-25, “(23) Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. (24) From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. (25) Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;”
“(4) Do not muzzle an ox while it treads out grain.” – 1 Cor. 9:9 & 1 Tim. 5:18
The Rite of the Kinsman redeemer
“(5) When brothers live on the same property and one of them dies without a son, the wife of the dead man may not marry a stranger outside the family. Her brother-in-law is to take her as his wife, have sexual relations with her, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law for her. (6) The first son she bears will carry on the name of the dead brother, so his name will not be blotted out from Israel. (7) But if the man doesn’t want to marry his sister-in-law, she must go to the elders at the city gate and say, ‘My brother-in-law refuses to preserve his brother’s name in Israel. He isn’t willing to perform the duty of a brother-in-law for me.’ (8) The elders of his city will summon him and speak with him. If he persists and says, ‘I don’t want to marry her,’ (9) then his sister-in-law will go up to him in the sight of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, and spit in his face. Then she will declare, ‘This is what is done to a man who will not build up his brother’s house.’ (10) And his family name in Israel will be called ‘The house of the man whose sandal was removed.'”
So you can readily see the stigma attached to bare feet, but there was more to it than that in this case.
Turn with me to Ruth chapter 4. The life of Ruth as recorded in the book bearing her name reveals MUCH about Israel’s God ordained structure and functions of social life. Ruth was a Moabite and we know about the people from that land from out encounter with them and the prophet Balaam. At any rate the Moabites were the descendants of Lot, Abraham’s Nephew and so were family. Ruth was the daughter-in-law of Naomi, an Israelite woman from Bethlehem who fled to Moab with her husband and two sons during a famine. There her boys married and eventually all the men died. Naomi then returned to Israel. Ruth then went to glean in the fields – gathering the grain that fell to the ground behind the harvesters (remember we read about this in Deut. 24:19, “When you reap the harvest in your field, and you forget a sheaf in the field, do not go back to get it. It is to be left for the foreign resident, the fatherless, and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.” This is where Ruth met Boaz the land owner. When Naomi heard that Ruth had met Boaz she encouraged Ruth to gained the attention and affection of Boaz due to his immediate relation to Naomi’s family. Her hopes were to curry his favor than he might marry Ruth, perform the right of the kinsman redeemer and raise a the first born son unto the name of her deceased son – Ruth’s deceased husband. However, Boaz knew of a younger man who was a closer relation so he had to defer to him first. If he failed to perform the rite, then it fell to Boaz. So, all of this is has already happened as we begin reading in Ruth chapter 4.
“(1) Boaz went to the gate of the town and sat down there. Soon, the family redeemer Boaz had spoken about came by. Boaz called him by name and said, “Come over here and sit down.” So he went over and sat down. (2) Then Boaz took 10 men of the city’s elders and said, “Sit here.” And they sat down. (3) He said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has returned from the land of Moab, is selling a piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech. (4) I thought I should inform you: Buy it back in the presence of those seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you want to redeem it, do so. But if you do not want to redeem it, tell me, so that I will know, because there isn’t anyone other than you to redeem it, and I am next after you.””I want to redeem it,” he answered. (5) Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you will also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the deceased man, to perpetuate the man’s name on his property.” (6) The redeemer replied, “I can’t redeem it myself, or I will ruin my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption, because I can’t redeem it.” (7) At an earlier period in Israel, a man removed his sandal and gave it to the other party in order to make any matter legally binding concerning the right of redemption or the exchange of property. This was the method of legally binding a transaction in Israel. (8) So the redeemer removed his sandal and said to Boaz, “Buy back the property yourself.” (9) Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I am buying from Naomi everything that belonged to Elimelech, Chilion, and Mahlon. (10) I will also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, to perpetuate the deceased man’s name on his property, so that his name will not disappear among his relatives or from the gate of his home. You are witnesses today.” (11) The elders and all the people who were at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is entering your house like Rachel and Leah, who together built the house of Israel. May you be powerful in Ephrathah and famous in Bethlehem. (12) May your house become like the house of Perez, the son Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring the LORD will give you by this young woman.” (13) Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he was intimate with her, the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.”
According to Keil & Delitzsch,
“The taking off of the shoe was an ancient custom in Israel. The usage arose from the fact, that when any one took possession of landed property he did so by treading upon the soil, and asserting his right of possession by standing upon it in his shoes. In this way the taking off of the shoe and handing it to another became a symbol of the renunciation of a man’s position and property. But the custom was one of public disgrace in such a case as this, when the shoe was publicly taken off the foot of the brother-in-law by the widow whom he refused to marry.”
Interestingly, spitting upon another person, especially in the face, is a global sign of anger, hatred, disrespect or contempt. This was her right and duty. Her right for her own dignity of having been refused care and a future, her duty to her husband who was also being denied a male offspring to perpetuate his name in Israel.
Propriety and life
“(11) If two men are fighting with each other, and the wife of one steps in to rescue her husband from the one striking him, and she puts out her hand and grabs his genitals, (12) you are to cut off her hand. You must not show pity.”
This may seem excessive, but it is most certainly not!
First, nothing should ever be considered excessive if it is committed with foreknowledge of the consequences. No woman in Israel could have done such a thing without being KEENLY aware of the impropriety of it nor of the immediate consequences.
Years ago I said something in church about this when we all watched a movie in which a man was kicked in the groin and everyone thought it was funny. I was amazed that among Christians this would elicit laughter. It was clearly wrong, immoral and unbiblical. So I made mention of this passage and of course was largely dismissed as overreacting, but I think not.
It is standard fair for the devil to turn into a joke what God takes seriously.
The genitals of a man contain the life seed of humanity. It is the epicenter of the gene-pool, the transference of character and likeness through the blood transferred from one generation to another. This is why circumcision was in the male sex organ and why Jesus HAD to be born of a virgin. This is NOT a trivial matter and God considers it reprehensible and inexcusable – regardless of the motives or justifications. Nowhere does this passage prohibit a wife from attempting to rescue her husband or run interference in order to stop the fight or to save him from undo harm, but to grab another man in the genitals – especially intending to cause great harm was so far out of reason as to warrant this punishment. She’d never use that hand for anything else since it would be permanently removed from her.
“(13) You must not have two different weights in your bag, one heavy and one light. (14) You must not have two differing dry measures in your house, a larger and a smaller. (15) You must have a full and honest weight, a full and honest dry measure, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. (16) For everyone who does such things and acts unfairly is detestable to the LORD your God.”
Prov. 11:1, “Dishonest scales are detestable to the LORD, but an accurate weight is His delight.”
“(17) Remember what the Amalekites did to you on the journey after you left Egypt. (18) They met you along the way and attacked all your stragglers from behind when you were tired and weary. They did not fear God. (19) When the LORD your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget.”
Giving the Lord His Due
“(1) When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you take possession of it and live in it, (2) you must take some of the first of all the soil’s produce that you harvest from the land the LORD your God is giving you and put it in a container. Then go to the place where the LORD your God chooses to have His name dwell. (3) When you come before the priest who is serving at that time, you must say to him,
‘Today I acknowledge to the LORD your God that I have entered the land the LORD swore to our fathers to give us.’
(4) “Then the priest will take the container from your hand and place it before the altar of the LORD your God. (5) You are to respond by saying in the presence of the LORD your God:
“My father was a wandering Aramean. He went down to Egypt with a few people and lived there. There he became a great, powerful, and populous nation. (6) But the Egyptians mistreated and afflicted us, and forced us to do hard labor. (7) So we called out to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our cry and saw our misery, hardship, and oppression. (8) Then the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, with terrifying power, and with signs and wonders. (9) He led us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. (10) I have now brought the first of the land’s produce that You, LORD, have given me.”
You will then place the container before the LORD your God and bow down to Him. (11) You, the Levite, and the foreign resident among you will rejoice in all the good things the LORD your God has given you and your household. (12) “When you have finished paying all the tenth of your produce in the third year, the year of the tenth, you are to give it to the Levite, the foreign resident, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.
(13) Then you will say in the presence of the LORD your God:
“I have taken the consecrated portion out of my house; I have also given it to the Levite, the foreign resident, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all the commands You gave me. I have not violated or forgotten Your commands. (14) I have not eaten any of it while in mourning, or removed any of it while unclean, or offered any of it for the dead. I have obeyed the LORD my God; I have done all You commanded me. (15) Look down from Your holy dwelling, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land You have given us as You swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.”
(16) “The LORD your God is commanding you this day to follow these statutes and ordinances. You must be careful to follow them with all your heart and all your soul.”
“(17) Today you have affirmed that the LORD is your God and that you will walk in His ways, keep His statutes, commands, and ordinances, and obey Him. (18) And today the LORD has affirmed that you are His special people as He promised you, that you are to keep all His commands, (19) that He will put you far above all the nations He has made in praise, fame, and glory, and that you will be a holy people to the LORD your God as He promised.”
I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.
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