christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

deuteronomy 23:24-25, theft of income

Read Deuteronomy 23:24-25 at Bible Gateway.

Previously: deuteronomy 23:17-23, thefts against YHVH

(Please review the teaching tools of scripture, especially the Hebrew paragraph divisions and chiastic structures. The paragraphs marked by an “s” at their close are weak paragraphs, which indicate a change of facet but not a change of theme or topic. The paragraphs marked by a “p” at their close are strong paragraphs, which indicate the completion of a theme or topic.)

Deu 23:24-25 is the third section explaining Do not steal, the eighth commandment. The eighth commandment is explained in Deu 23:15-24:7, and this is my summary of it. These are the Hebrew paragraph division in this section:

Deu 23:24 {s} Do not harvest your neighbor’s vineyard
Deu 23:25 {s} Do not harvest your neighbor’s standing grain

“When you come into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes at your pleasure, but you shall not put any in your container. When you come into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not use a sickle on your neighbor’s standing grain.” Deu 23:24-25

Did you know that picking an apple off your neighbor’s tree to eat right then and there, if you are hungry, is not theft? But taking his harvest away with you, whether it is one apple, or all the apples, is theft. His harvest is his income, not yours.

This helps explain something in the Gospels:

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!” Mat 12:1-2

Interesting that the Pharisees called Jesus’ disciples on the carpet for breaking the Sabbath and not theft, and our passage in Deuteronomy explains why. But harvesting grapes and putting them in containers – taking a sickle to the standing grain – that is working to provide an income. It is work that is prohibited on the Sabbath, and not every activity. The Pharisees were wrong in their accusation, because the disciples were not working to provide an income for themselves.

The more general principle that we take away from this passage, is do not steal the income (or what provides for the income) of another.

Continued: deuteronomy 24:1-4, divorce and remarriage


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