Continuing Moses’s farewell address to the Children of Israel, this week’s portion deals extensively with the legal system the people must establish when they enter the land. From courts to kings and priests to false witnesses and murderers, the portion details what God expects the people to do in each case.
The portion then goes on by instructing the people in proper procedures for war. It also details what should be done in the event of an unsolved murder.
Topic 1: A System of JusticeMoses instructs the people to set up a court system with judges and officers. He exhorts the judges and officers to serve the people honestly and not let their judgment be clouded by bribery or the power of the people involved. Moses reiterates the injunction against idolatry, this time singling out Ashera trees and… Read More »
Topic 2: Laws of Kings and PriestsMoses now sets out the laws that distinguish kings, priests and Levites from the rest of the nation. He tells the people there will come a time when they establish themselves in the land and wish to set a king for themselves like the nations around them. Moses instructs the people to choose only a… Read More »
Topic 3: Prophets Instead of WitchcraftMoses tells the people not to copy the practices of the nations which they will dispossess; namely, witchcraft and divination. Instead, God will raise for them prophets from among the people, as they told Moses at Sinai hearing God’s word directly was too overwhelming. Moses tells the people to adhere to the words of the… Read More »
Topic 4: Manslaughter vs. Murder and False WitnessesThis brief passage deals with the establishment of the cities of refuge first mentioned in Numbers 35 and the laws of those who may or may not seek sanctuary there. Three cities must be established first. Then, as Israel’s borders expand, three more. Moses identifies who may flee there: only one who has killed… Read More »