crime in the city
Deuteronomy 22:23-27 (JDV)
Deuteronomy 22:23 If there is a young woman who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man encounters her in the city and sleeps with her,
Deuteronomy 22:24 take the two of them out to the gate of that city and stone them to death – the young woman because she did not cry out in the city and the man because he has humiliated his neighbor’s fiance. You must purge the evil from you.
Deuteronomy 22:25 But if the man encounters an engaged woman in the open country, and he holds her strongly and rapes her, only the man who raped her must die.
Deuteronomy 22:26 Do nothing to the young woman, because she is not guilty of a mistake deserving death. This case is just like one in which a man attacks his neighbor and murders him.
Deuteronomy 22:27 When he found her in the field, the engaged woman cried out, but there was no one to rescue her.
crime in the city
In the instance where the apparent rape was really consensual, both parties are considered guilty of the crime, and both are taken out of the city and executed. The nearness of others who could have prevented the act makes the city liable as well. Taking the two criminals out of the city was part of the process of dealing with the social responsibility of preventing the crime.
In many of our societies today, people engage in all kinds of illicit and criminal acts with the full awareness of the community. Purging the evil from us is our collective responsibility, and when a city looks the other way, it incurs guilt for the crimes committed. We cannot be everywhere, but when the crime is being committed in our own house or community, we need to take steps to prevent it.
Lord, instill in us a willingness to remove evil from our hearts, homes, and neighborhoods.