January 16th 2018 – Exodus 22:16-31

"If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins. "You shall not permit a sorceress to live. "Whoever lies with an animal shall be put to death. "Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the LORD alone, shall be devoted to destruction. "You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless. "If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him. If ever you take your neighbor's cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate. "You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people. "You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to me. You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its mother; on the eighth day you shall give it to me. "You shall be consecrated to me. Therefore you shall not eat any flesh that is torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.

Exodus 22:16-31

We continue to look at the various enactments. The widow and the fatherless are not exempt either from the exploitation of evil men; but God's special care is towards them (see Deuteronomy 14:29, 16:11-14, 24:17-21), and beyond all legal penalties that can be visited on those who hurt them lies the divine sentence of wrath and punishment certain to fall upon them for their heartlessness. The word about lending for usury in 25 is not so much a condemnation of the principle of lending for interest (see Deuteronomy 23:19, 20) as to prevent a man driving a hard bargain with his own kith and kin. Compassion, not an eye to business, must be the characteristic of our dealing with our brother (see also Deuteronomy 17:7-10). The word 'gods' in 28 should read 'God'. The 'first fruits' enactment in 29-31 is designed to make us recognise that all life belongs to God, and in giving our first-fruits to Him we are in token giving it back to Him.