A guilty man shall not be beaten more than forty times. An ox should not be kept from eating while working. A man should give his brothers widow a son, but if any man is not willing to build up his brothers house, he is a disgrace in Israel. If two men are fighting and the wife of the one reaches out and grabs the genitals of the other man, her hand shall be cut off without mercy. All business transactions are to be honest. The sons of Israel were commanded to blot out the memory of Amalek, a son of Esau, who attacked the rear stragglers when they were faint and weary because he did not fear God.
There are six laws recorded in this chapter. They are various laws because they do not seem to be connected to one another. Honestly, I find most of them very strange when viewing them as a Christian and from my cultural back ground, 20th and 21st century America. I do not understand beating a man as punishment. I do not understand going into your deceased brothers widow and the son that she bears, being considered your brothers son. I do not understand cutting off a woman’s hand who was attempting to protect her husband in a struggle. And I do not understand blotting out the memory of a people.
However, I do understand that there is punishment for crimes committed and there must be a limit on the punishment given. I do understand that working animals should be treated with kindness. I do understand that a man should do all that he can for his brothers widow and honor his brothers name. I do understand that a man’s genitals should not be attacked because damaging them would mean no children. I do understand that all business transactions should be honest.
I understand that I live in a different time and different cultural setting than the sons of Israel. More than that, I understand that I am subject to a new covenant in Christ Jesus; therefore, I am to observe all that Christ commanded. Jesus commanded that we love our brothers as he loved us; Christ laid down his life for us. Jesus commanded that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Jesus commanded that we should love our enemies; he said to do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you. (cf. Lk 6:27-36)