Deut 20-21

Chapter 20-21 covers more laws in various areas. Wars, unsolved murders, marrying female captives, inheritance for the firstborn, rebellious son, and a very specific law on death by hanging on the tree. Will cherry pick some of the points for food for thought for this post.

In laws of warfare, God asked the Israelites to offer a term of peace before physical warfare take place (20:10-11). If that the term cannot be agreed upon, then the Israelites will pursuit in war (20:12). We learn from history classes that this is not a very usual way to conquer any land. What people but God’s people can conquer lands without drawing any weapon?

Another specific command by God on warfare is concerning trees (20:19-20). God told the Israelites to not cut down trees that can be eaten as food. What does that say about God’s care for the needs of His people?

God told the Israelites, that if a man was to be punished by death, to be hung on a tree, his body should be taken down the same day (21:22-23). Such act is cursed and defiling the land God provided (21:23). One might be curious why this law written specifically into the law. I suspect it has to the recurring importance of trees in the Old Testament. A tree often symbolizes life and growth on earth. Ever since Genesis, humans are called to take care of the Earth created by God. But ever since the Fall, sin and death was introduced to humanity. Sin and death were not the will of God for humanity; bearing consequences of sin on trees would be in conflict of God’s perfect creation of Earth and life symbolically. As such, God reminds the Israelites their responsibility as human to take care of His creation through this law. How can this remind your role in taking care of God’s perfect creation?

— Isaac

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