from captive to family

woman wearing white wedding gown while holding bouquet

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from captive to family

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 21:10 “When you go to war against your enemies and Yahveh your God hands them over to you and you take some of them prisoner, and
Deuteronomy 21:11 if you see a beautiful woman among the captives, desire her, and want to take her as your wife,
Deuteronomy 21:12 you are to bring her into your house. She is to shave her head, trim her nails,
Deuteronomy 21:13 remove the clothes she was wearing when she was taken prisoner, live in your house, and mourn for her father and mother a full month. After that, you may have sexual relations with her and be her husband, and she will be your wife.
Deuteronomy 21:14 But if you do not treasure her, you are to let her go as her personality prefers, and you must not sell her or treat her as merchandise, because you have humiliated her.

from captive to family

At first glance, it seems barbaric. But this passage treats a reality that needed to be addressed by the covenant law. There would be many captives during the possession of the land, and they were not all to be executed or enslaved. This practice actually served to assimilate people into the community.

This was an opportunity for the Israelite man to show his allegiance to God and to pass on that covenant loyalty by inviting a captive woman to become part of his family. The alternative for the captive woman was destitution and possibly death as she tried to go to distant lands in search of a new life. But, because God respects the dignity of everyone, it would be her choice. By the end of that month of waiting, the Israelite man would also know if his desire for the captive woman was merely physical. If he did not treasure her, she would be free to go. She was not to be sold or bartered as merchandise.

Barbaric or not, there are some timeless principles from God’s word in this text. Respect for other people’s choice is one. Expanding the covenant community through marriage is another. Treasuring your life partner is also essential.

Lord, show those of us who are married how to respect and treasure one another, passing on our covenant relationship with you through marriage.

About Jefferson Vann

Jefferson Vann is pastor of Piney Grove Advent Christian Church in Delco, North Carolina. You can contact him at -- !
This entry was posted in consideration of others, marriage, sexuality and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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