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Rules, rights and regulations: Deuteronomy 21–25

It is now fashionable to talk about social justice, but rarely is it acceptable to talk publicly about holiness. It hasn’t always been like that. There was a time, it seems, when they were not considered separately.

For example, there is the command to use accurate scales and full and honest measures:

Deuteronomy 25:15-16 Yes, always use honest weights and measures, so that you may enjoy a long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you. All who cheat with dishonest weights and measures are detestable to the Lord your God.

And on slavery, an important social justice issue:

Deuteronomy 24:7 If anyone kidnaps a fellow Israelite and treats him as a slave or sells him, the kidnapper must die. In this way, you will purge the evil from among you.

Indeed, escaped slaves were to be supported, not returned to their masters:

Deuteronomy 23:15-16 If slaves should escape from their masters and take refuge with you, you must not hand them over to their masters. Let them live among you in any town they choose, and do not oppress them.

You can also see it in the context of those who were probably one step away from selling themselves into slavery:

Deuteronomy 24:14-15 Never take advantage of poor and destitute laborers, whether they are fellow Israelites or foreigners living in your towns. You must pay them their wages each day before sunset because they are poor and are counting on it. If you don’t, they might cry out to the Lord against you, and it would be counted against you as sin.

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