Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cities of Refuge/Women & Property (Num. 35-36)

SEAN - Israeli rules about manslaughter were more liberal that Canada's, sort of. That, and women could inherit property if they married within their own tribe. Even in the middle of a male-dominated culture, where the they also had the death penalty and used it, attempts at fairness were made. We might not like all of the rules that God laid down, but He has His reasons; this is our chance to step back and realize that God loves women and even criminals, though sometimes it looks like He doesn't.

Based on's Chronological Bible In a Year schedule. If anyone would like to join in, this blog's comments sections would be a good forum in which to share insights from the text.

The Cities of Refuge, and the Death Penalty

Straight up, Yahweh (God) believes in the death penalty. He blesses it here and uses it there, commands it here and here and here. So I can't apologize for that - I trust Him too much; I know He's making the right decisions. What I can point out is that in the case of killing someone, if it turned out to just be manslaughter, the one at fault didn't have to rot in jail for 5 years over a stupid mistake. In God's Israel, that man could serve out his sentence in a community surrounded by temple workers at one of the Cities of Refuge (Numbers 35.6), moving around freely and having a relatively normal life. God is about justice - but fair justice. Manslaughter is not the same as murder. So God judges accordingly and doesn't just punish for the sake of punishing.

Women Can Inherit Property
For an ancient man-dominated culture, Israel was progressive. In a family of daughters and no sons, the women could inherit their dad's property. That wasn't even the case in our culture up until recently - remember Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice? The women in that novel had to find husbands before their father died, or they would be out of a home; only the nearest male relative would inherit the house. That's how the world was 200 years ago. And yet 3400 years ago in Israel, the women could inherit property in that situation. Yes, God made rules that favored men. But within all of that - well, God showed that He still has a soft spot for the ladies. Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice couldn't have been written in ancient Israel, because God brought the culture so much further along than it was in Jane Austen's day.

A Tiny Little End Note
Like I said, much of the Bible will offend you. The death penalty is there - and God made no apologies for it, He even enforced its use. Rules that favor men are there too, and even in the New Testament some pretty chauvinist-sounding things get said ("man is the image of God, but woman is the image of man," anybody?). When you get offended, please don't box God into these categories of chauvinism or hard-on-crime, God is bigger than that. And when He makes rules you don't like, just think, He knows all things and He created the universe. I would say that He knows better than you or I do.

Other comments and observations can be found in the comments section! Join in!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Start or join a conversation! Please do not use the 'Anonymous'; option; use the Name/URL form and leave a first and last name (or last initial). Thank you.