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The Old Testament Said What?!
Some of the laws of ancient Israel may sound strange to us today. But, what you have to remember is that our lives today are very different from those of the ancient Israelites. They were often far from their original homeland and faced with an identity crisis when their children began to intermarry with other faiths and cultures. Their laws were written to help them stay healthy and to help them plant crops and raise a good harvest with the methods that were available to them then. While these laws may sound confusing to us, they made sense to the Israelites back then. These laws also helped them to teach their children about their faith.
Below is a quiz that you can use with a study of Old Testament history, ancient Israel, ancient laws, etc. The Biblical reference for each law is in parenthesis. What do you think was the reason for each law?
1. Donít plant your field with two different kinds of seeds. (Lev. 19:19)
2. Donít wear clothes made of two different kinds of material. (Lev. 19:19)
3. Sound the shofar everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month. (Lev 25:9)
4. If a slave hides at your house to escape from slavery, donít send him back to his master. (Deut. 23:15)
5. Donít charge your brother interest or make him pay extra money if you lend money to him. (Deut. 23:19)
6. Donít cut the hair on the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard. (Lev. 19:27)
7. If strangers live in your neighborhood, treat them with kindness. (Lev. 19:33)
8. Every seven years, donít plant your fields or prune your bushes. (Lev. 25:3 & 4)
9. If a man just got married, heís not allowed to fight in the army. (Deut. 24:5)
10. Every 50 years, everyone is supposed to move back and live in the same house as their grandparents. All property is restored to its original owner. (Lev. 25:10 & 13)
11. When you pick grapes, only pick the field once. Donít pick it twice. (Lev. 19:10)
12. Always use an honest standard measure of weight when measuring things. (Lev. 19:36).
1. Today we know that there are some very scientific reasons for not planting different varieties of the same crop in the same field (poor or unfavorable cross-pollination). The ancient Israelites were also trying to retain an identity different from other, idol-worshipping cultures who might have haphazardly planted their fields with whatever seeds they had on hand.
2. Some people that worshipped idols wove different kinds of materials together for religious purposes. The Israelites wanted to stay away from any kind of practice that was used by idol worshippers.
3. There was a special holiday on this day that began the Year of Jubilee which occurred every 50 years. During this year, people who had sold their land if they were poor were able to get their land back. Slaves were also set free. By blowing the shofar (an ancient trumpet) everywhere, people would be reminded that it was a holiday. Remember they didnít have tv or radio to remind them and many people were illiterate.
4. This law was made to encourage people to help each other.
5. This law was made so that the rich couldnít get richer off of their own family members whom they were supposed to be responsible for.
6. Egyptians cut their beard and hair and style it a certain way as part of their religion. The Israelites didnít want to look like they were worshipping Egyptians idols.
7. This law commanded people to be kind to strangers.
8. Farmers didnít have fertilizers or chemicals to add to the ground as we do today. Many didnít even add manure. This was an early form of crop rotation. This let the ground ďrestĒ and ďrecoverĒ so that it could stay healthy and grow more crops rather than going barren.
9. This law gave a little protection to newly weds to give them time to have a family. This was especially important as women had no legal status and could not inherit land or property. It was therefore important for them to have a male heir.
10. Land was as important to the Israelites as it was to the early American pioneer. This law prevented any one family from gaining too much power from the misfortunes of other Israelites.
11. This was also a law to protect the poor. This allowed the poor people to glean the fields after it was harvested. Gleaning means to pick the leftovers. This was often the only way some people had anything to eat.
12. This law was made so people could not cheat each other.