Ki Tetze (When you go forth) Deut. 21:10-25:19

What a cool passage! So many laws, so little time… I guess the one that strikes me the most this time around is this one, Deuteronomy 25:11-12:

When men fight with one another and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, then you shall cut off her hand. Your eye shall have no pity.

The situation is pretty specific: a woman seeks to help her husband by grabbing the “secrets” (so named in the KJV) of the man fighting with her husband, and in return, she gets to lose her hand.

Wow! Harsh, no?

Well, the passage just before this speaks of the woman whose husband dies and leaves her childless and the extreme shame that comes upon the brother-in-law who won’t due the duty and get her with child so that her husband will still have a name in Israel. Children–and not losing the ability to sire them–is a pretty big deal to God.

As I see it, a woman who grabs in that context is going to grab to injure, and if she succeeds in injuring, she has murdered all the children the man could have had and all the children of those children. A hand is not that much to lose in that case, no?

Did it ever happen? Did a woman do this and get her hand cut off? I don’t know, but I suspect rare would be the woman whose desire to help her husband would override her desire to keep her own hand.

This passage also reminds us that a man who has injured secrets cannot enter the assembly of the Lord (Deut. 23:1), another reason the woman ought to be dissuaded from grabbing at the secrets. Would to God that God-fearing men everywhere would read that passage and stop volunteering to have their own parts injured.


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