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4 Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife [isha], after that she is defiled [hutamma'ah] ; for that is abomination [ to'evah] before Yahweh: and thou shalt not cause the land [ha'aretz] to sin, which Yahweh thy Elohim giveth thee for an inheritance [ nachalah].
'...we see clearly that occasionally outstanding incidents called forth supplementary additions to the Book of the Covenant. The divorce laws of Deut. 24 : 1-4 are doubtless of this nature. These probably legalized certain existing practices and put an end to grave abuses. But they, again, subserved a purpose other than the practical and obvious. A wife who was formally dismissed by her husband could not become his again - neither could any in Israel become God's once more if they "found no favour" in His eyes, because of "uncleanness". Each sinful generation would have to bear its punishment of rejection even though the promise to the entire race remained inviolate (Ezek. 18: 1-4).
Law and Grace Ch 6
7 If a man [ish] be found stealing [kidnapping] any of his brethren of the children of Israel [Bnei Yisroel], and maketh merchandise [enslaves] of him, or selleth him; then that thief [ganav] shall die; and thou shalt put evil [rah] away from among you.
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.
"And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant: but as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee and serve thee unto the year of jubile: and then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return. For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as bondman. Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God" (Lev. 25: 39-43).
Such bondmen were always to be foreigners: "they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel ye shall not rule one over another with rigour" (verse 46). A foreigner on the other hand was not allowed to make a bondman of any Israelite who sold himself into his service: "As a yearly hired servant shall he be with him: and the other shall not rule with rigour over him in thy sight" (verse 53).
Any Israelites who could were to regard it as a bounden duty to redeem any such needy brother and thus remove the anomaly presented by a member of the Covenant People serving one of the heathen.
As for any Israelite who esteemed the privileged status of his brother so lightly as to kidnap and sell him for gain, only one punishment was appropriate: "If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you" (Deut. 24: 7).
Liberty was the God-given right of an Israelite.
Law and Grace Ch 3
17 Thou shalt not pervert the judgment [mishpat] of the stranger [ger], nor of the fatherless [yatom]; nor take a widow's [almanah's] raiment to pledge:
18 But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman [eved] in Egypt [Mitzrayim], and Yahweh thy Elohim redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing.
He had suffered in Egypt not only as a slave but as an alien. Never was he therefore to perpetrate the same wrongs as he had suffered himself against any alien in his own midst. "If a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God" (Lev. 19 : 33-34; cf. Exod. 23 : 9).
Law and Grace Ch 3
20 When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
21 When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
22 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.
Kindness (Deut. 22 : 1-4), humaneness to both men and animals (Deut. 22: 6-7), chastity (Deut. 22: 13-21), generosity (Deut. 23 : 19; 24: 19-22) - these were the kind of virtues which befitted God's People. Cursed indeed were those who flouted them (Deut. 27 : 11-26). (It was as Moses said,
"And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good ?" (Deut. 10 : 12-13).
Israel therefore had no illusions as to what was meant when God declared,
"Ye shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people that ye should be mine" (Lev. 20 : 26).
And, though that divine wish seems to have been utterly frustrated by Israel's past record, yet fulfil itself it will nevertheless. Like all God's purposes, it will yet translate itself into fact. God's word will not return to Him void, but accomplish that which He pleases, and prosper in the thing whereto He sent it, when finally the time comes for the Deliverer to come out of Zion and turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
Law and Grace Ch 6