Deuteronomy 23 Commentary

Deuteronomy 23 Commentary

This is for men. Castration or any other form of deformity on the private parts leads to exclusion from the sanctuary. Deformity doesn’t represent the perfection that the Sanctuary should stand for. Deformity in the life-giving systems represents deformity in life itself thereby misrepresenting the intentions of the perfect LORD.

Like deformity, birth from an improper union between man and woman misrepresents the original plan of the LORD, hence the exclusion from the place meant to project perfection. It looks unfair on the ‘innocent’ siblings. It also looks unfair on us that we have to suffer exclusion based on the sin of Adam. For others, maybe, but for me the exclusion will be justified on account of my own sins. It is this very unfair situation that the LORD addresses when He comes down as man, so that none of us is excluded on account of ‘this’ sin. Belief in the LORD Jesus therefore serves as a channel out of a scandalous situation.

The situation for Ammonites and Moabites is easily understood. They represent peoples opposed to the purposes of God. But this exclusion is not cast in steel and concrete. A Moabite who embraces and respects the commands of the LORD may break this curse. The story of Ruth stands out. It’s a story of a Moabite woman who turns to Israel’s God and actually becomes the human ancestor of the LORD Jesus.

From the story of Ruth we can tell that the moment the gate-valve opens, water flows. The gate-valve is man’s rebellion against God. Open the gate-valve and the restrictions all disappear at once. The rules are softer on Edom and Egypt. While many remember Egypt for the enslavement of Israel, it is the choice of Egypt by the LORD to host the young nation of Israel which shines brighter.

Again as with monthly periods for women, men’s nocturnal emissions are a sign of uncleanliness. It has something to do with life processes. After the fall, the factory produces children in the wrong image – in the image of man and not the image of God. The process is seen as dirty because of the end product. It points us to a need for a better life-giving process. The symbolism here is powerful. We can reflect on the call to be born-again as an answer to the imperfect life-giving process.

It is interesting that while uncleanliness such as uncovered human excrement may host diseases, it is not the reason the saint should have for seeking cleanliness. Of first importance is the fact that the LORD hates uncleanliness. Sin is always an offense against the LORD. It may affect the sinner himself and or others, but firstly it is rebellion against God.

Prostitution is an old occupation. The LORD has words about it. The LORD is not to be worshipped with sinfully obtained wealth.

If you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat all the grapes you want, but do not put any in your basket.
Deuteronomy 23:24 NIV

It may appear like an instruction to steal except steal only what you need. No. It points to the need for one not to overstay their welcome. It’s an instruction not to overdo a good. Care-givers must not be abused to the point where they begin to regret helping out. It’s a call for balance in our social interactions. Even a good speech becomes bad when it is too long. I’ll end here.

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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