christine's bible study

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

deuteronomy 16:18-21:9, shoftim “judges” chiastic structure

You shall not remove your neighbor's boundary stone which the men of old have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.

Deuteronomy 19:14

Read Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9 at Bible Gateway.

The paragraph divisions for shoftim are posted here. Some of the smaller chiastic structures within shoftim are posted here. This torah portion (as well as the past several) explains keeping the Ten Commandments; those detailed notes and chiastic structures are posted here.

This year I was able to find the single chiastic structure formed by shoftim:

Deu 16:18-21:9
1a) Deu 16:18, Judges’ authority delegated by YHVH;
1b) Deu 16:19-20 s, You shall not pervert justice or show partiality;
1c) Deu 16:21-22 s, You shall not set up a sacred pillar stone;
1d) Deu 17:1 s, The blemished sacrifice shall not be put to death;
1e) Deu 17:2-7 p, The idolator shall be put to death;
1f) Deu 17:8-9, The priests and Levites are to judge in matters of difficulty;
1g) Deu 17:10-13 s, Heed the instruction of the priests:
– 1g.1) Deu 17:10-11, You shall heed the instruction of the priest or it will be required of you;
– 1g.2) Deu 17:12-13 s, The man who will not heed the instruction of the priest shall be put to death;
1h) Deu 17:14-20 s, The king over the nation;
1i) Deu 18:1-2 s, The inheritance of the Levites;
central axis) Deu 18:3-5 s, What is due the Levites;
2i) Deu 18:6-8 s, Equal shares for Levites;
2h) Deu 18:9-18, The prophet like Moses whom Israel shall hear;
2g) Deu 18:19-20, Hear the words of the prophet who speaks in the Lord’s name:
– 2g.1) Deu 18:19, Whoever will not hear My words which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him;
– 2g.2) Deu 18:20, The prophet who speaks falsely in the name of God shall be put to death;
2f) Deu 18:21-22 s, The people shall judge the whether the prophet has spoken falsely or not;
2e) Deu 19:1-10 p, The manslaughterer shall not be put to death;
2d) Deu 19:11-13 s, The murderer shall be put to death;
2c) Deu 19:14 s, You shall not move an ancient boundary stone;
2b) Deu 19:15-20:20 s, The innocent shall not be put to death (You shall not pervert justice);
2a) Deu 21:1-9 s, Judges’ responsibility in the case of an unsolved murder.

Most of this chiastic structure is in the section of Deu explaining, You shall honor your father and mother, or, to put it another way, You shall preserve the sanctity of the Lord’s delegated authority. The Lord has delegated authority, besides to parents as the foundational unit of society, to judges over local regions, the king over the nation, the priests and Levites over the congregation, and the prophets who speak in the name of the Lord.

As I was meditating on why the Levites at the central axis (and not the Prophet like Moses as I originally thought might be there), the phrase, “the Lord is their inheritance,” from Deu 18:2 kept coming to mind. All Israel is the Lord’s people. But the Levites are at the heart of the Lord’s people who have the Lord for their inheritance. Even so, all the nations are the Lord’s. But Israel is at the heart of the nations, the priesthood nation to the rest of the world, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exo 19:6). And He has made us a royal priesthood by grafting us in to His holy nation (1 Pet 2:9). For the priesthood, the Lord is their inheritance. We are sojourners in this world and do not have an inheritance in this world, the Lord being our inheritance.

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