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Deuteronomy 25

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25:1 If controversy arises between people, 1  they should go to court for judgment. When the judges 2  hear the case, they shall exonerate 3  the innocent but condemn 4  the guilty. 25:2 Then, 5  if the guilty person is sentenced to a beating, 6  the judge shall force him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with the number of blows his wicked behavior deserves. 7  25:3 The judge 8  may sentence him to forty blows, 9  but no more. If he is struck with more than these, you might view your fellow Israelite 10  with contempt.

25:4 You must not muzzle your 11  ox when it is treading grain.

Respect for the Sanctity of Others

25:5 If brothers live together and one of them dies without having a son, the dead man’s wife must not remarry someone outside the family. Instead, her late husband’s brother must go to her, marry her, 12  and perform the duty of a brother-in-law. 13  25:6 Then 14  the first son 15  she bears will continue the name of the dead brother, thus preventing his name from being blotted out of Israel. 25:7 But if the man does not want to marry his brother’s widow, then she 16  must go to the elders at the town gate and say, “My husband’s brother refuses to preserve his brother’s name in Israel; he is unwilling to perform the duty of a brother-in-law to me!” 25:8 Then the elders of his city must summon him and speak to him. If he persists, saying, “I don’t want to marry her,” 25:9 then his sister-in-law must approach him in view of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, and spit in his face. 17  She will then respond, “Thus may it be done to any man who does not maintain his brother’s family line!” 18  25:10 His family name will be referred to 19  in Israel as “the family 20  of the one whose sandal was removed.” 21 

25:11 If two men 22  get into a hand-to-hand fight, and the wife of one of them gets involved to help her husband against his attacker, and she reaches out her hand and grabs his genitals, 23  25:12 then you must cut off her hand – do not pity her.

25:13 You must not have in your bag different stone weights, 24  a heavy and a light one. 25  25:14 You must not have in your house different measuring containers, 26  a large and a small one. 25:15 You must have an accurate and correct 27  stone weight and an accurate and correct measuring container, so that your life may be extended in the land the Lord your God is about to give you. 25:16 For anyone who acts dishonestly in these ways is abhorrent 28  to the Lord your God.

Treatment of the Amalekites

25:17 Remember what the Amalekites 29  did to you on your way from Egypt, 25:18 how they met you along the way and cut off all your stragglers in the rear of the march when you were exhausted and tired; they were unafraid of God. 30  25:19 So when the Lord your God gives you relief from all the enemies who surround you in the land he 31  is giving you as an inheritance, 32  you must wipe out the memory of the Amalekites from under heaven 33  – do not forget! 34 

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1 tn Heb “men.”

2 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the judges) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

3 tn Heb “declare to be just”; KJV, NASB “justify the righteous”; NAB, NIV “acquitting the innocent.”

4 tn Heb “declare to be evil”; NIV “condemning the guilty (+ party NAB).”

5 tn Heb “and it will be.”

6 tn Heb “if the evil one is a son of smiting.”

7 tn Heb “according to his wickedness, by number.”

8 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the judge) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

9 tn Heb “Forty blows he may strike him”; however, since the judge is to witness the punishment (v. 2) it is unlikely the judge himself administered it.

10 tn Heb “your brothers” but not limited only to an actual sibling; cf. NAB) “your kinsman”; NRSV, NLT “your neighbor.”

11 tn Heb “an.” By implication this is one’s own animal.

12 tn Heb “take her as wife”; NRSV “taking her in marriage.”

13 sn This is the so-called “levirate” custom (from the Latin term levir, “brother-in-law”), an ancient provision whereby a man who died without male descendants to carry on his name could have a son by proxy, that is, through a surviving brother who would marry his widow and whose first son would then be attributed to the brother who had died. This is the only reference to this practice in an OT legal text but it is illustrated in the story of Judah and his sons (Gen 38) and possibly in the account of Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 2:8; 3:12; 4:6).

14 tn Heb “and it will be that.”

15 tn Heb “the firstborn.” This refers to the oldest male child.

16 tn Heb “want to take his sister-in-law, then his sister in law.” In the second instance the pronoun (“she”) has been used in the translation to avoid redundancy.

17 sn The removal of the sandal was likely symbolic of the relinquishment by the man of any claim to his dead brother’s estate since the sandal was associated with the soil or land (cf. Ruth 4:7-8). Spitting in the face was a sign of utmost disgust or disdain, an emotion the rejected widow would feel toward her uncooperative brother-in-law (cf. Num 12:14; Lev 15:8). See W. Bailey, NIDOTTE 2:544.

18 tn Heb “build the house of his brother”; TEV “refuses to give his brother a descendant”; NLT “refuses to raise up a son for his brother.”

19 tn Heb “called,” i.e., “known as.”

20 tn Heb “house.”

21 tn Cf. NIV, NCV “The Family of the Unsandaled.”

22 tn Heb “a man and his brother.”

23 tn Heb “shameful parts.” Besides the inherent indelicacy of what she has done, the woman has also threatened the progenitive capacity of the injured man. The level of specificity given this term in modern translations varies: “private parts” (NAB, NIV, CEV); “genitals” (NASB, NRSV, TEV); “sex organs” (NCV); “testicles” (NLT).

24 tn Heb “a stone and a stone.” The repetition of the singular noun here expresses diversity, as the following phrase indicates. See IBHS 116 §7.2.3c.

25 tn Heb “a large and a small,” but since the issue is the weight, “a heavy and a light one” conveys the idea better in English.

26 tn Heb “an ephah and an ephah.” An ephah refers to a unit of dry measure roughly equivalent to five U.S. gallons (just under 20 liters). On the repetition of the term to indicate diversity, see IBHS 116 §7.2.3c.

27 tn Or “just”; Heb “righteous.”

28 tn The Hebrew term translated here “abhorrent” (תּוֹעֵבָה, toevah) speaks of attitudes and/or behaviors so vile as to be reprehensible to a holy God. See note on the word “abhorrent” in Deut 7:25.

29 tn Heb “what Amalek” (so NAB, NRSV). Here the individual ancestor, the namesake of the tribe, is cited as representative of the entire tribe at the time Israel was entering Canaan. Consistent with this, singular pronouns are used in v. 18 and the singular name appears again in v. 19. Since readers unfamiliar with the tribe of Amalekites might think this refers to an individual, the term “Amalekites” and the corresponding plural pronouns have been used throughout these verses (cf. NIV, NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT).

30 sn See Exod 17:8-16.

31 tn Heb “ the Lord your God.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.

32 tn The Hebrew text includes “to possess it.”

33 tn Or “from beneath the sky.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heaven(s)” or “sky” depending on the context.

34 sn This command is fulfilled in 1 Sam 15:1-33.



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