• Law,  Old Testament

    The OT Law in Its Narrative Context

    All too often we read sections of Exodus, Leviticus, or Deuteronomy without being sensitive to the surrounding narrative context. We need to remember that God’s giving of the Law on Mount Sinai was within a specific narrative, and we should understand the Law in light of that narrative. When we do so, we come away with the following observations. The narrative context shows the Law was not a legalistic standard to earn God’s favor. There is no reason to think Old Testament believers were saved by keeping the Law. In fact, when we look at the placement of the Law in the narrative, we see that God had already delivered Israel out of Egypt. The giving of the Law (e.g., Exod 19–24) took place after God had already demonstrated His saving relationship with Israel by delivering them (e.g., Exod 12–14). The Law was a precious gift to Israel to help…

  • Law,  Old Testament

    The King in Israel: a Contrast with ANE Nations

    Sometimes students of Scripture are surprised to find out that it was always God’s plan for Israel to have a king. God had promised Abraham that “kings shall come from you” (Gen 17:6). God gave a similar promise to Jacob (Gen 35:11). In fact, by the time the Pentateuch wraps up, we are expecting a powerful king who will come from Judah (Gen 49:10; Num 24:17). It should not really be that surprising that Israel would have a king. A king ruling over a kingdom was the default governmental system for the ancient Near East (ANE) nations. But, what is very surprising is the kind of king that Israel was expected to have. The king of Israel was to be of a very different sort than the surrounding nations. The king of Egypt, for example, was thought to be the earthly embodiment of the god Horus. The king was known…

  • Law,  Old Testament

    The Bible and Rape: Must a Girl Marry Her Rapist?

    Critics of the Bible often say the Bible is anti-women when it comes to the issue of rape. It is common to point to the rape law in Deuteronomy 22:28–29 as evidence that the Bible is hopelessly out of touch with ethical norms and the common decency which marks contemporary society. This passage reads as follows: “If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days” (NASB). Does this passage teach that a girl who is a rape victim must marry her rapist? Some would argue there is no rape in Deut 22:28 on the basis of the verb used.…

  • Law,  Old Testament

    Summary of the Ten Commandments

    Because I have written quite a few posts on the subject of the Old Testament Law, and more specifically the Ten Commandments, this post will serve as a summary of these posts. The reader who is interested in the Ten Commandments or the Law may find the following posts interesting. The OT Law in Its Narrative Context This post was an analysis of the Law as it appears in the Pentateuch. Oftentimes we miss some of the significant applications of the Law because we neglect the context in which it occurs. Unsurprisingly, the narrative context of the Law becomes very important to interpretation and understanding. The Purpose of the Old Testament Law In this post we discuss the overall purpose of the Law. We discuss how some people have wrongly attributed other purposes to the Law. Ultimately, the Law should be viewed as a reflection of God’s character, and insight…

  • Law,  Old Testament

    You Shall Not Covet (Commandment #10)

    You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor (Exod 20:17) You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field or his male servant or his female servant, his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor (Deut 5:21) It is interesting that other ancient Near Eastern civilizations did not have laws prohibiting an attitude like covetousness. There were many laws prohibiting wrongful action, but none that prohibited desiring something that was prohibited. Covetousness can be thought of as internal desire for something forbidden. It is not the action that is in view in the tenth commandment, but the implicit desire for what does not belong to you. Interestingly, Exodus 20 uses the…