By Vernon W. Redekop
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Additional resources for A life for a life?: death penalty on trial
Deuteronomy 21:21) Sexual Acts Associated with Death 16. Having intercourse with beasts. (Leviticus 22:19; Leviticus 20:1516) 17. Committing adultery. (Leviticus 20:10) 18. Having intercourse with one's father's wife. (Leviticus 20:11) 19. Having intercourse with one's daughter-in-law. (Leviticus 20:12) 20. Having intercourse with another man. (Leviticus 20:13) 21. Having intercourse with one's mother-in-law. (Leviticus 20:14) 22. Becoming a prostitute, if the daughter of a priest. (Leviticus 21:9) 23.
If left unchecked, the offenses might have disrupted the whole community. For example, the man who gathered wood did it on the Sabbath, just when the idea of resting on the Lord's day was being established legally. Since wood in the wilderness was scarce, this put him at Page 24 an unfair advantage over everyone else. Had he been permitted to do so, community discipline on the Sabbath (which was hard to maintain in the best of times) might have broken down. Keeping the Sabbath was one of the most significant actions for the identity of the Jewish community.
He brought some back and introduced it to to his friends. They shared it with their younger brothers and sisters who took it into their schools. A businessperson tried it and decided to sell it. Before long much of Page 20 the town was inhaling cocaine and the fabric of the community started to fall apart. How would you deal with a close friend who was peddling drugs? Would you turn him or her in to the police? Such action would put you in a terrible bind. This is the point of this biblical text.
A life for a life?: death penalty on trial by Vernon W. Redekop