christine's bible study

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

deuteronomy 24:5-6, do not steal the life of the family

Read Deuteronomy 24:5-6 at Bible Gateway.

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

(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 24:5-6 is the fifth 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 is one Hebrew paragraph in this section:

Deu 24:5-6 {s} Bridegrooms and millstones

When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken. No man shall take the lower or the upper millstone in pledge, for he takes one’s living in pledge. Deu 24:5-6

In our English Bibles, these two sentences are in two separate paragraphs, but the Hebrew paragraph division reveals to us that the Spirit of the Lord considers them a single paragraph teaching a single topic.

To steal something is to take something that does not belong to us. In the first sentence, the man has taken a new wife.

In the second sentence, it is the millstone that is being taken. Let’s start here. The millstone is not being stolen outright, because the miller has made a loan, presumably, and the thing of value which he has, which secures the loan, is his millstone. Normally the lender receives a thing of value from the borrower, to secure the loan. However, because the millstone is the one thing that provides for the income of the borrower, the lender is prohibited from taking the millstone as a pledge. He must take something else as collateral. When the source of income is removed from the family, even though the reason might be legitimate, then the life of the family has been stolen.

Deu 24:5 Bridegrooms (connection to Do not steal?)
Deu 24:6 Do not steal the life of the family

Now back to verse 5. It cannot be that the man’s new wife was stolen … there is no indication that the bridegroom did not marry her legitimately in front of all their family and friends. Why is the bridegroom prohibited from conducting business or going to war for an entire year after he has taken a new wife? So that he may spend his newlywed year bringing happiness to his new wife that he has taken. Listen, God is so much smarter than we are. What kind of a rock solid foundation would a man be laying for his marriage and future family, if he made his wife’s happiness his only business for an entire year?

If a man were to ignore this command, and be consumed with business or warfare his newlywed year, then I ask myself, what is it that has been stolen? His new wife’s happiness.

Deu 24:5 Do not steal the wife’s happiness
Deu 24:6 Do not steal the life of the family

Fair enough, but why does God put these two seemingly unrelated commands together in a single paragraph teaching a single topic? What is that topic? Oh the beauty and wisdom of God and His word! The happiness of the wife is the life of the family. Do not steal the wife’s happiness, because the thriving, flourishing life of the family is the fruit of it!

There is a folklore saying that expounds this same principle: “If Mama ain’t happy then ain’t nobody happy.” TRUTH!

Continued: deuteronomy 24:7, persons are not property

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