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Harsh Living By Old Testament Law

By James Donahue

A line of the Old Testament books, known to the Jewish people as the Torah, are filled with commandments allegedly delivered by God via Moses that have strongly influenced the law books in many parts of the world.

The Ten Commandments list what many consider the most important list of laws to be followed, and most of them make sense. Murder, larceny, rape and adultery are considered serious crimes worthy of being addressed by our court system. But many of the other Old Testament laws, and instructions as to how to punish the violators, are a bit strange.

The Book of Deuteronomy contains a few hum-dingers. Verse 21: 18 for example reads: "If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. . . Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death."

Due to the general rebellious spirit of youth today, I might suggest that if everybody lived by that law now, we would have very few young men left on the planet. It might, however, help put an end to the foolishness of war and perhaps give women the position of power and leadership they have been denied.

Deuteronomy 22:5 declares: "A woman shall now wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God." It seems that most Americans are cursed since women have long found that men’s trousers are comfortable when working on factory jobs or just doing work in the yard. And we all know that the gay movement has resulted in various deviations in dress, with many men happily walking around in women’s apparel. The movement has become so strong that the old laws, once prohibiting homosexual behavior have been stricken from the law books.

Deuteronomy 22:28 offers a strange law concerning rape. It reads: "If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days."

In other words, in the eyes of the Hebrew god, a man who rapes a young virgin has, in effect, forced her to be his wife.

Then there the really gory verses in Deuteronomy 28:52-57. They involve a punishment for the people for not obeying God’s laws. To paraphrase, it warns that God will bring enemy armies to destroy the city, eat all of the food, and condemn the people to cannibalism for survival.

Verse 53 reads: "You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters." And in verse 56: "The tender and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because of her delicateness and sensitivity, will refuse to the husband of her bosom, and to her son and her daughter, her placenta which comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears; for she will eat them secretly for lack of everything."

There are some interesting laws set forth in the Book of Leviticus as well. There is a death sentence for doing all of the following:

--Cursing your father or mother.

--Committing adultery; the death sentence is for both the man and woman involved.

--Having sex with your mother, daughter-in-law, another man, both a woman and her mother, or with animals

The punishment for the following amounts to banishment from the people:

--Marrying your sister, having sex with a woman during her menstrual period, having sex with an aunt, or marrying the wife of your brother.

These are but a few of the harsh rules by which the Hebrew people were forced to live their lives under the Old Testament books of the law. The rules generally make sense, but most of them are regularly violated in today’s society without fear of death or reprisal.