Deuteronomy 16-19

Today’s reading begins with instructions regarding the Passover and concludes with laws concerning witnesses for trials.

The topics covered in today’s reading are many. There are numerous practices and prescriptions given over the course of the four chapters in the reading, but it seems best to me to cover each of the prescriptions briefly:

1. Passover: The requirements and timing of the Passover are once again reiterated. The Passover was the most significant event in the history of the people of Israel. Essentially, this was their Independence Day, or maybe the analog to Christianity is the Resurrection of Christ. It was the day when the people were freed from generation after generation of bondage.

2. The Feast of Weeks: The was a celebration of the giving of the Torah to Israel at Mount Sinai. It was also a celebration of God’s provision in the harvest.

3. The Feast of Booths: This feast was celebrated as a reminder of the 40 years of tent (booths) dwelling that the Israelites went through prior to their entrance to the Promised Land.

4. Justice: Partiality in justice was condemned by God and forbidden.

5. Forbidden Worship: God was very prescriptive in His declarations of acceptable worship and the one who rebelled against it was to be put to death.

6. Laws Concerning Kings: Israel had never had a king, but God knew that the Israelites may at some point want to follow in the traditions of other people and have a king. Israel’s king was not to multiply wives, possess great numbers of horses, and never return to Egypt.

7. Provisions for Priests and Levites:  The Levites unlike all the other tribes of Israel was not granted land in the Promised Land, so God commanded that because of this that the people were to provide for their needs.

8. Abominations: The land that the Israelites had been given by God was full of people and practices that God considered abominations. These practices included sacrificing of children, divination, fortune telling, sorcery, wizardry, or communication with the dead (necromancy or mediums).

9. New Prophet: God intended to fill the void left by Moses. He intended to speak to the people of Israel through a prophet.

10. Cities of Refuge: Three cities were to be set apart as cities where people who had committed manslaughter (accidental killing, not out of malice) could live and be safe from the avenger of blood.

11. Property Boundaries: God forbade the people from relocating their neighbor’s boundary markers to try and enlarge their own property.

12. Witnesses: No person could be convicted on the testimony of a single witness. At least two or three witnesses were required for a conviction. If a false witness came forth in testimony, then the false witness would suffer the fate of the person who had been charged with the crime.

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