There were also concerns for marriage, the prohibiting of remarriage to a divorced wife (Verses 1-4) and the exemption of a newly married from the army or any business. (Verse 5) For the protection of families one’s mill or upper millstone were prohibited from pledges for debts. (Verse 6) An Israelite could not become a slave. (Verse 7) It was the responsibility of the priest to care for the diseases that caused people to become unclean. Leprosy was such a disease. (Verses 8-9) Moses’ sister Mariam was a historical reminder. (Numbers 12:9) Pledges and collateral for loans were both collected, used, and returned in such a manner to respect human dignity. (Verses 10-13) The servant was not to be oppressed, (Verses 14-15) and there was to be no corporate punishment for individual crimes. (Verse 16) There was to be help for the helpless. (Verses 17-22)
The community of God’s people in Old Testament Israel was to be responsible for the well-being of widows and orphans and foreigners. The Israelites were to represent the just God who they served and always remember that they had been enslaved and defenseless people in Egypt. How could they, the beneficiaries of God’s grace, ignore the rights and needs of the most vulnerable who lived among them?
Every society has social structures that separate the powerful from the weak and the privileged from the ill-favored. This was true in Old Testament Israel despite its unique constitution and commission as a “holy nation,” (Exodus 19:6) judges and other officials charged with upholding the law might tend to favor individuals with financial means, high social standing, or community influence, especially when these individuals offer bribes. However, God cannot be bribed, nor does He show partiality. The rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, the exalted and the downtrodden are all alike to Him.
Those charged with applying the law in God’s name must be scrupulously honest and upright in carrying out their duties. Justice that falls short of God’s standard is not true justice, and those responsible for its corruption can expect full retribution from the judge of all the earth. The prophets of Israel understood the need for equity and justice and often called for the application of these principles to community and national life. (Isaiah 1:17; Isaiah 10:1-4; Isaiah 14-19; Ezekiel 22:23-29; Amos 2:6-8; Habakkuk 1:4) The New Testament also appeals for proper treatment of the poor and disadvantaged and speaks of God’s displeasure when they are neglected. (Matthew 23:23; 2 Corinthians 9:6-10; James 2:1-7)