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13 And thou shalt have a paddle [shovel] upon [in addition to to] thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad [relieve thyself outside], thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:
The uncleanness and stench of military camps are well known in times of war. This was provided against during Israel's journey in the wilderness by the direction contained in Deut. 23:13--which was probably acted on when they settled in their land.
The system of earth closets is considered in our day the best method of disposing of nightsoil. The principle of the earth-closet (covering up at once with a layer of mother earth) is the principle of the Mosaic enactment. The earth, by its chemical action, soon absorbs the rejected elements, and turns into an earth-enriching manure that which by a bungling treatment easily becomes a source of disease.
It is far better than the modern systems of disposing of sewage. If it cannot be carried out under modern conditions in great cities, it is because the modem system of banishing the people from the land and huddling them together in masses at great centres does not admit of it. Men are beginning to see that this system itself is as much a mistake as the systems of sewage, and that the best conditions for mortal population are those prescribed by the Law of Moses.
While they have begun to see this, they have not begun to discover how the system is to be altered. This is beyond their power. God will alter it in the day when He fulfils His promise to set up a Kingdom that will break in pieces all others, and stand for ever, as the everlasting refuge of man for the glory of God. The "the isles shall wait for his law", They will say, "He will teach us of his ways and we shall walk in his paths", But His name must be hallowed and His will be done before the blessedness can come. This will result from the judgments which will teach the world righteousness. A clean, holy, happy earth will then outspread itself to view everywhere to the joy of righteous men.
But what suggestion of the perfect day is there in the Mosaic method of sanitation? What type can we see in this? The comment associated with the injunction may help us' "Therefore shall thy camp be holy, that he see no unclean thing in thee", While this was a word of practical direction for the time then present for Israel, we cannot err in seeing a typical significance in so striking an element of a law which was "a shadow of good things to come". We read in the Apocalypse (20:9) of "the camp of the saints"--the camp of the holy ones--in the happy day.
This is a camp in which no unclean thing is seen: "There shall in nowise enter into it anything that defileth". While this applies to the moral characteristics of those admitted, it is true physically as well. All who "enter therein" are incorruptible in nature. They require no longer to say, "He shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body", because this has been done.
They can now exult historically that though "sown in dishonour" they have been "raised in glory: sown in weakness, raised in power: sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body", A corruptible and unclean body is no longer their experience. All that has been buried away in the earthy experience of the past. By the weapon which they used--"the sword of the Spirit" --is the change which has caused "this corruptible to put on incorruption".
14 For Yahweh thy Elohim walketh in the midst of thy camp [machaneh], to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy [machaneh be kadosh]: that he see no unclean thing [ervat davar (shameful thing)] in thee, and turn away from thee.
In like manner, all who were lepers, who had issues and who were defiled by the dead, had to leave the Camp-again in pursuance of the same moral end, that of teaching those who dwelt there to be holy. When we read God's promise regarding the Land in the light of these facts, the parallel between it and the Camp becomes patent:
"I will set my tabernacle among you ... and I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people".
The parallel could not be made plainer. The Land, like the Camp, was to be God's "holy habitation"; life in the Camp was an apprenticeship to life in the Land. This meant in practical terms just that the Land, like the Camp, was no place for the morally unclean and corrupt, and that their presence there would not be tolerated by God. It was to be the abode of the holy and the holy alone. The expulsion from the Camp of those who were physically defiled was thus but a foreshadowing of the deportation of the nation from the Land of its inheritance if it should prove to be morally corrupt.
All this was implicit in the Song of Moses. Looking forward to the occupation of Canaan Moses sang, "Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, 0 Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, 0 Lord, which thy hands have established" (Exod. I5: 17).
The Land as a whole would be God's abode inasmuch as His Tabernacle would be pitched within it. That is, the Land would be to the eventual central shrine what the Camp in the wilderness became to the Sanctuary at its centre. Houses and farms would take the place of tents, and in due course the Temple would supersede the Tabernacle; but one thing would remain unchanged throughout the passage of time and alteration of circumstances - the principle on which God would consent to dwell among His People.
That was unalterable. They had either to be holy like Him, or be banned from His Presence. "Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations ... that the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you" (Lev. 18: 26-28).
Law and Grace Ch 11
15 Thou shalt not deliver unto his master [adon] the servant [eved] which is escaped [rescued] from his master [adon] unto thee:
16 He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates [she'arim], where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.
The thoughtful Israelite could not fail to see a didactic purpose in this law. He was to see in the fugitive slave the reflection of himself fleeing from Egypt and to accord to him the same mercy and protection as he himself had been vouchsafed by God. Apart from humanitarian considerations any failure on his part to obey was much more than an act of disobedience: it was also an unwitting confession of spiritual blindness.
There was always a risk that such blindness might lead to the oppression of a fellow Israelite. This was emphatically forbidden.
All Israelites - high and low, rich and poor - were equal in their enjoyment of redemption from Egypt and membership of the Covenant nation. None was to forget it: so none was allowed to make a bondman of another Israelite.
Law and Grace Ch 3
19 Thou shalt not lend upon usury [neshekh (interest)]to thy brother; usury of money [neshekh of kesef], usury of victuals [neshekh of okhel], usury of any thing that is lent upon usury: [neshekh]
20 Unto a stranger [nokhri] thou mayest lend upon usury [neshekh]; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury [neshekh]: that Yahweh thy Elohim may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land [ha'aretz] whither thou goest to possess it.
Implicit here again, we note, as a compelling motive, is the memory of God's mercy to them in taking account of their need when defenceless slaves in Egypt. That memory was to lay even greater claims upon them, moreover, for once in seven years they were also to acquiesce cheerfully in the total cancellation of their rights as creditors.
"At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the Lord's release."
What had the Exodus been but "the Lord's release"? So once again the sharp distinction was drawn between the redeemed and the unredeemed: "Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it again: but that which is thine with thy brother thine hand shall release" (Deut. 15: 1-3)·
But having reminded the Israelite of the significance of the Exodus in that negative way the regulation also brought home to him his positive duty to his fellow-men. For what had his bondage in Egypt been but a symbol of his hopeless indebtedness to God, as a sinner? His deliverance had thus in a very real sense been a full and absolute "release" from his debts-God had granted him the total pardon of his sins.
The ritual of the Year of Release thus made him consciously realize that he, having himself had his trespasses forgiven, was under the inescapable obligation to forgive in turn those who trespassed against him.
Law and Grace Ch 3
21 When thou shalt vow a vow [neder] unto Yahweh thy Elohim, thou shalt not slack [delay] to pay it: for Yahweh thy Elohim will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin [chet] in thee.
Israel had vowed at Sinai to conform in this way to the will of God. "Moses took the book of the covenant and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient" (Exod. 24: 7). As an express reminder of the solemnity and binding nature of that one oath a special regulation was issued to govern all oaths. Its effect was to show that a permitted vow "shall stand". Once made, it demanded fulfilment.
"If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth" (Num. 30 : 2).
The children of Israel had not been like some daughter, or wife, whose father or husband could disallow the oath immediately it was made, but, like a widow, or grown man, had been in enjoyment of total liberty when their word was pledged at Sinai. So the rule for the individual held good for the nation.
"When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the Lord thy God will surely require it of thee; and it will be sin in thee" (Deut. 23 : 21).
Israel would find then that their liberty had cost them dear if they neglected to make good their promise so freely made. Their God had been true to His word: woe betide them if they fell short of His constancy.
Law and Grace Ch 6