Example #6 God's World

What if an environmental unit reflected ‘Our world’ as ‘God’s world’?

Alison taught in a church school and wanted to reframe her environmental unit in terms of being guests in God’s world rather than owners.

“I wanted to change the framework of the unit but felt the content did not need changing. I went through the material and changed the phrases 'our world' or 'the world' to 'God's world'. I did the same for the displays and how outcomes were worded. I arranged the display to demonstrate that the world belongs to God by headlining the display WE LIVE IN GOD’S WORLD. I added pictures of people and the heading GUESTS IN GOD'S WORLD. I also used images of different environments from the perspective of what, in art, might be called a 'God’s eye' view.
 
“I changed the way I introduced the topic by bringing in a world-globe wrapped as a gift to which I had attached a label: 'To my people, with love from God'. I invited pupils to unwrap the gift and discuss: a) the motive behind giving a gift and b) what it means to receive a gift. We also talked about looking after gifts we have received and went on to discuss how we would look after something precious we had been given on loan. I referred children to the display and we role-played being a guest and how not to treat another person’s home. I summed up our discussion: ‘The world is a gift that we have been entrusted with, we have been given the job of caring for it. It is God’s world and we are his special guests so we live in the world trusting him and remembering it belongs him.’
 
“There were some things I could not change in the teaching resources so I asked pupils to find all the incidences of 'our world' or 'the world' in the resources to draw their attention to the different phrasing. I changed one art task. I asked them to draw parts of God’s world from what is known as 'a God’s eye view', for example, forests and rivers from above, this led to talking about God being everywhere.”

What’s going on here?

Alison saw the environment in terms of being a guest in God’s world. She wanted to change the unit from a self-orientated perspective (our world) to a God and others perspective that sees the world as a gift and trusts God as the one who gives it to us.
 
She engaged students in conversation around a new metaphor (from owners to guests), and used it to point them to a different way of engaging with the world. Alison also framed the way students experienced the topic (globe gift-wrapped, God’s eye views) and engaged students in looking critically at the teaching resources from within the new framework.
 
She reshaped her practice by choosing intentional language (using consistent key words to build her lesson around) and working the desired perspective consistently into the resources, the display, a focal object to introduce the lesson, and the class discussion.
 
How do I do this myself?

What does this have to do with faith, hope and love?

Ownership is basic to our culture and the idea of not owning the world goes against the grain. We naturally put the label ‘mine’ or ‘ours’ on things. The Bible speaks of God as creator and sustainer of the earth, it is his world. God placed people in his world to enjoy it and look after it, not to own it or exploit it. This creation gift was an expression of God’s love and his faith in people. Faith in this world as God’s world also communicates hope, as this world belongs to him and its ultimate destiny rests with God, though people are called to work with God in caring for the earth.

What difference does it make?

There is a huge difference between viewing ourselves as guests in God's world and seeing ourselves as owners. The former changes the relationship with the environment to one of stewardship.

Where could we go from here?

Alison checked the wording and display materials in her unit to see if they were sending the message she wanted. Units on other topics might use a different concept that acts as a framework, for example, service. Whatever the concept, this strategy of making the language consistent and having students explicitly reflect on the language change could still be applied.

Digging deeper

The Bible states that the world is God’s (Psalm 24:1; Deuteronomy 10:14). It is his by right of creation (Genesis 1:1). In Genesis, God entrusts the world to people as caretakers (Genesis 2:15) giving them rule over the earth in the sense of bringing creative order and exercising responsibility (Genesis 1:26). The land is described as belonging to God (Leviticus 25:23) with people as tenants in the land. This may seem a harsh way of putting the position of people in relation to the land, but the context in ancient Israel was that God called people to redistribute land every 50 years so that great estates did not build up while others were homeless. It took more than a strong statement that ‘you are tenants’ to remind the Israelites that they did not own this land and that if God wanted to redistribute it, that was his prerogative as owner. (It is not known how far this was practised.) We have used the term ‘guests of God’ to capture some of the same emphasis in a way that can appeal to students.
… most of environmental ethics and sustainable development policy could be based precisely on the viewpoint of the guest. Just think of what you would and wouldn’t do as a guest in someone else’s home. How much would you eat from their table — even if you felt it were a banquet laid for you? Would you chop up the furniture for kindling? Kill the pets? Deny other guests their share of the host’s bounty? Whether we base this sensibility on belief in God or not — we are indeed guests, here for a twinkling in the cosmic long haul. We continue acting as the haughty master of the house at our peril. Jeremy Benstein from The People & the Book quoted in The Jerusalem Report, October 7, 2002.
In the Bible, people are created on the same day as animals expressing their oneness with the animal kingdom. Adam (meaning 'human') is created from the earth (in Hebrew 'Adamah'). Adam was literally an 'earthling' underlining our connection to the planet. People and the environment are closely related in the Bible; when people go wrong, creation suffers (2 Chronicles 7:13-14). The Bible has guidelines on the environment: from caring for birds’ nests to protecting fruit trees in times of war. These guidelines preserved the environment for future generations (Numbers 35:33-34; Deuteronomy 20:19; Deuteronomy 22:6).

Explore similar examples:

What if a literacy lesson were about words as gifts?
What if teaching history could help students to love a place and its people?
What if an environmental unit reflected on biblical imagery?
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1The earth and everything on it belong to the Lord . The world and its people belong to him. 2The Lord placed it all on the oceans and rivers. 3Who may climb the Lord 's hill or stand in his holy temple? 4Only those who do right for the right reasons, and don't worship idols or tell lies under oath. 5The Lord God, who saves them, will bless and reward them, 6because they worship and serve the God of Jacob. 7Open the ancient gates, so that the glorious king may come in. 8Who is this glorious king? He is our Lord , a strong and mighty warrior. 9Open the ancient gates, so that the glorious king may come in. 10Who is this glorious king? He is our Lord , the All-Powerful! (By David.) A prayer for guidance and help
1The Lord told me to chisel out two flat stones, just like the ones he had given me earlier. He also commanded me to make a wooden chest, then come up the mountain and meet with him. 2He told me that he would write the same words on the new stones that he had written on the ones I broke, and that I could put these stones in this sacred chest. 3So I made a chest out of acacia wood, and I chiselled two flat stones like the ones I broke. Then I carried the stones up the mountain, 4where the Lord wrote the Ten Commandments on them, just as he had done the first time. The commandments were exactly what he had announced from the fire, when you were gathered at the mountain. After the Lord returned the stones to me, 5I took them down the mountainside and put them in the chest, just as he had commanded. And they are still there. Aaron died (Numbers 20.22-29) Moses said to Israel: 6Later we set up camp at the wells belonging to the descendants of Jaakan. Then we moved on and camped at Moserah, where Aaron died and was buried, and his son Eleazar became the priest. 7Next, we camped at Gudgodah and then at Jotbathah, where there are flowing streams. The Levites were appointed to carry the chest Moses said to Israel: 8After I put the two stones in the sacred chest, the Lord chose the tribe of Levi, not only to carry the chest, but also to serve as his priests at the place of worship and to bless the other tribes in his name. And they still do these things. 9The Lord promised that he would always provide for the tribe of Levi, and that's why he won't give them any land, when he divides it among the other tribes. The Lord answered the prayers of Moses (Exodus 34.9,10,27-29) Moses said to Israel: 10When I had taken the second set of stones up the mountain, I spent forty days and nights there, just as I had done before. Once again, the Lord answered my prayer and did not destroy you. 11Instead, he told me, Moses, get ready to lead the people into the land that I promised their ancestors. What the Lord wants Moses said: 12People of Israel, what does the Lord your God want from you? The Lord wants you to respect and follow him, to love and serve him with all your heart and soul, 13and to obey his laws and teachings that I am giving you today. Do this, and all will go well for you. 14Everything belongs to the Lord your God, not only the earth and everything on it, but also the sky and the highest heavens. 15Yet the Lord loved your ancestors and wanted them to belong to him. So he chose them and their descendants rather than any other nation, and today you are still his people. 16Remember your agreement with the Lord and stop being so stubborn. 17The Lord your God is more powerful than all other gods and lords, and his tremendous power is to be feared. His decisions are always fair, and you cannot bribe him to change his mind. 18The Lord defends the rights of orphans and widows. He cares for foreigners and gives them food and clothing. 19And you should also care for them, because you were foreigners in Egypt. 20Respect the Lord your God, serve only him, and make promises in his name alone. 21Offer your praises to him, because you have seen him work such terrifying miracles for you. 22When your ancestors went to live in Egypt, there were only seventy of them. But the Lord has blessed you, and now there are more of you than there are stars in the sky. If you are loyal to the Lord , he will bless you Moses said to Israel:
1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was barren, with no form of life; it was under a roaring ocean covered with darkness. But the Spirit of God was moving over the water. 3God said, I command light to shine! And light started shining. 4God looked at the light and saw that it was good. He separated light from darkness 5and named the light Day and the darkness Night. Evening came and then morningthat was the first day. 6God said, I command a dome to separate the water above it from the water below it. 7And that's what happened. God made the dome 8and named it Sky. Evening came and then morningthat was the second day. 9God said, I command the water under the sky to come together in one place, so there will be dry ground. And that's what happened. 10God named the dry ground Land, and he named the water Sea. God looked at what he had done and saw that it was good. 11God said, I command the earth to produce all kinds of plants, including fruit trees and grain. And that's what happened. 12The earth produced all kinds of vegetation. God looked at what he had done, and it was good. 13Evening came and then morningthat was the third day. 14God said, I command lights to appear in the sky and to separate day from night and to show the time for seasons, special days, and years. 15I command them to shine on the earth. And that's what happened. 16God made two powerful lights, the brighter one to rule the day and the other to rule the night. He also made the stars. 17Then God put these lights in the sky to shine on the earth, 18to rule day and night, and to separate light from darkness. God looked at what he had done, and it was good. 19Evening came and then morningthat was the fourth day. 20God said, I command the sea to be full of living creatures, and I command birds to fly above the earth. 21So God made the giant sea monsters and all the living creatures that swim in the sea. He also made every kind of bird. God looked at what he had done, and it was good. 22Then he gave the living creatures his blessinghe told the sea creatures to live everywhere in the sea and the birds to live everywhere on earth. 23Evening came and then morningthat was the fifth day. 24God said, I command the earth to give life to all kinds of tame animals, wild animals, and reptiles. And that's what happened. 25God made every one of them. Then he looked at what he had done, and it was good. 26God said, Now we will make humans, and they will be like us. We will let them rule the fish, the birds, and all other living creatures. 27So God created humans to be like himself; he made men and women. 28God gave them his blessing and said: Have a lot of children! Fill the earth with people and bring it under your control. Rule over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and every animal on the earth. 29I have provided all kinds of fruit and grain for you to eat. 30And I have given the green plants as food for everything else that breathes. These will be food for animals, both wild and tame, and for birds. 31God looked at what he had done. All of it was very good! Evening came and then morningthat was the sixth day.
1So the heavens and the earth and everything else were created. 2By the seventh day God had finished his work, and so he rested. 3God blessed the seventh day and made it special because on that day he rested from his work. 4That's how God created the heavens and the earth. The Garden of Eden When the Lord God made the heavens and the earth, 5no grass or plants were growing anywhere. God had not yet sent any rain, and there was no one to work the land. 6But streams came up from the ground and watered the earth. 7The Lord God took a handful of soil and made a man. God breathed life into the man, and the man started breathing. 8The Lord made a garden in a place called Eden, which was in the east, and he put the man there. 9The Lord God placed all kinds of beautiful trees and fruit trees in the garden. Two other trees were in the middle of the garden. One of the trees gave lifethe other gave the power to know the difference between right and wrong. 10From Eden a river flowed out to water the garden, then it divided into four rivers. 11The first one is the River Pishon that flows through the land of Havilah, 12where pure gold, rare perfumes, and precious stones are found. 13The second is the River Gihon that winds through Ethiopia. 14The River Tigris that flows east of Assyria is the third, and the fourth is the River Euphrates. 15The Lord God put the man in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and to look after it. 16But the Lord told him, You may eat fruit from any tree in the garden, 17except the one that has the power to let you know the difference between right and wrong. If you eat any fruit from that tree, you will die before the day is over! 18The Lord God said, It isn't good for the man to live alone. I need to make a suitable partner for him. 19So the Lord took some soil and made animals and birds. He brought them to the man to see what names he would give each of them. Then the man named the tame animals and the birds and the wild animals. That's how they got their names. None of these was the right kind of partner for the man. 21So the Lord God made him fall into a deep sleep, and he took out one of the man's ribs. Then after closing the man's side, 22the Lord made a woman out of the rib. The Lord God brought her to the man, 23and the man exclaimed, Here is someone like me! She is part of my body, my own flesh and bones. She came from me, a man. So I will name her Woman! 24That's why a man will leave his own father and mother. He marries a woman, and the two of them become like one person. 25Although the man and his wife were both naked, they were not ashamed. The first sin
1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was barren, with no form of life; it was under a roaring ocean covered with darkness. But the Spirit of God was moving over the water. 3God said, I command light to shine! And light started shining. 4God looked at the light and saw that it was good. He separated light from darkness 5and named the light Day and the darkness Night. Evening came and then morningthat was the first day. 6God said, I command a dome to separate the water above it from the water below it. 7And that's what happened. God made the dome 8and named it Sky. Evening came and then morningthat was the second day. 9God said, I command the water under the sky to come together in one place, so there will be dry ground. And that's what happened. 10God named the dry ground Land, and he named the water Sea. God looked at what he had done and saw that it was good. 11God said, I command the earth to produce all kinds of plants, including fruit trees and grain. And that's what happened. 12The earth produced all kinds of vegetation. God looked at what he had done, and it was good. 13Evening came and then morningthat was the third day. 14God said, I command lights to appear in the sky and to separate day from night and to show the time for seasons, special days, and years. 15I command them to shine on the earth. And that's what happened. 16God made two powerful lights, the brighter one to rule the day and the other to rule the night. He also made the stars. 17Then God put these lights in the sky to shine on the earth, 18to rule day and night, and to separate light from darkness. God looked at what he had done, and it was good. 19Evening came and then morningthat was the fourth day. 20God said, I command the sea to be full of living creatures, and I command birds to fly above the earth. 21So God made the giant sea monsters and all the living creatures that swim in the sea. He also made every kind of bird. God looked at what he had done, and it was good. 22Then he gave the living creatures his blessinghe told the sea creatures to live everywhere in the sea and the birds to live everywhere on earth. 23Evening came and then morningthat was the fifth day. 24God said, I command the earth to give life to all kinds of tame animals, wild animals, and reptiles. And that's what happened. 25God made every one of them. Then he looked at what he had done, and it was good. 26God said, Now we will make humans, and they will be like us. We will let them rule the fish, the birds, and all other living creatures. 27So God created humans to be like himself; he made men and women. 28God gave them his blessing and said: Have a lot of children! Fill the earth with people and bring it under your control. Rule over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and every animal on the earth. 29I have provided all kinds of fruit and grain for you to eat. 30And I have given the green plants as food for everything else that breathes. These will be food for animals, both wild and tame, and for birds. 31God looked at what he had done. All of it was very good! Evening came and then morningthat was the sixth day.
1When Moses was on Mount Sinai, the Lord told him 2to say to the community of Israel: After you enter the land that I am giving you, it must be allowed to rest one year out of every seven. 3You may raise grain and grapes for six years, 4but the seventh year you must let your fields and vineyards rest in honour of me, your Lord . 5This is to be a time of complete rest for your fields and vineyards, so don't harvest anything they produce. 6However, you and your slaves and your hired workers, as well as any domestic or wild animals, may eat whatever grows on its own. The year of celebration The Lord said to his people: 8Once every forty-nine years 9on the tenth day of the seventh month, which is also the Great Day of Forgiveness, trumpets are to be blown everywhere in the land. 10This fiftieth year is sacredit is a time of freedom and of celebration when everyone will receive back their original property, and slaves will return home to their families. 11This is a year of complete celebration, so don't plant any seed or harvest what your fields or vineyards produce. 12In this time of sacred celebration you may eat only what grows on its own. 13During this year, all property must go back to its original owner. 14So when you buy or sell farmland, the price is to be determined by the number of crops it can produce before the next Year of Celebration. Don't try to cheat. 16If it is a long time before the next Year of Celebration, the price will be higher, because what is really being sold are the crops that the land can produce. 17I am the Lord your God, so obey me and don't cheat anyone. 18If you obey my laws and teachings, you will live safely in the land and enjoy its abundant crops. 20Don't ever worry about what you will eat during the seventh year when you are forbidden to plant or harvest. 21I will see to it that you harvest enough in the sixth year to last for three years. 22In the eighth year you will live on what you harvested in the sixth year, but in the ninth year you will eat what you plant and harvest in the eighth year. 23No land may be permanently bought or sold. It all belongs to meit isn't your land, and you only live there for a little while. 24When property is being sold, the original owner must be given the first chance to buy it. 25If any of you Israelites become so poor that you are forced to sell your property, your closest relative must buy it back, 26if that relative has the money. Later, if you can afford to buy it, 27you must pay enough to make up for what the present owner will lose on it before the next Year of Celebration, when the property would become yours again. 28But if you don't have the money to pay the present owner a fair price, you will have to wait until the Year of Celebration, when the property will once again become yours. 29If you sell a house in a walled city, you have only one year in which to buy it back. 30If you don't buy it back before that year is up, it becomes the permanent property of the one who bought it, and it will not be returned to you in the Year of Celebration. 31But a house out in a village may be bought back at any time just like a field. And it must be returned to its original owner in the Year of Celebration. 32If any Levites own houses inside a walled city, they will always have the right to buy them back. 33And any houses that they do not buy back will be returned to them in the Year of Celebration, because these homes are their permanent property among the people of Israel. 34No pasture land owned by the Levi tribe can ever be sold; it is their permanent possession. Help for the poor The Lord said: 35If any of your people become poor and unable to support themselves, you must help them, just as you are supposed to help foreigners who live among you. 36Don't take advantage of them by charging any kind of interest or selling them food for profit. Instead, honour me by letting them stay where they now live. 38RememberI am the Lord your God! I rescued you from Egypt and gave you the land of Canaan, so that I would be your God. 39Suppose some of your people become so poor that they have to sell themselves and become your slaves. 40Then you must treat them as servants, rather than as slaves. And in the Year of Celebration they are to be set free, 41so they and their children may return home to their families and property. 42I brought them out of Egypt to be my servants, not to be sold as slaves. 43So obey me, and don't be cruel to the poor. 44If you want slaves, buy them from other nations 45or from the foreigners who live in your own country, and make them your property. 46You can own them, and even leave them to your children when you die, but do not make slaves of your own people or be cruel to them. 47Even if some of you Israelites become so much in debt that you must sell yourselves to foreigners in your country, 48you still have the right to be set free by a relative, such as a brother 49or uncle or cousin, or some other family member. In fact, if you ever get enough money, you may buy your own freedom 50by paying your owner for the number of years you would still be a slave before the next Year of Celebration. 51The longer the time until then, the more you will have to pay. 53And even while you are the slaves of foreigners in your own country, your people must make sure that you are not ill-treated. 54If you cannot gain your freedom in any of these ways, both you and your children will still be set free in the Year of Celebration. 55People of Israel, I am the Lord your God, and I brought you out of Egypt to be my own servants. Blessings for obeying the Lord The Lord said:
1As soon as Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and burnt up the offerings. The Lord 's dazzling glory then filled the temple, 2and the priests could not go in. 3When the crowd of people saw the fire and the Lord 's glory, they knelt down and worshipped the Lord . They prayed: The Lord is good, and his love never ends. 4Solomon and the people dedicated the temple to the Lord by sacrificing twenty-two thousand cattle and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep. 6Everybody stood up during the ceremony. The priests were in their assigned places, blowing their trumpets. And the Levites faced them, playing the musical instruments that David had made for them to use when they praised the Lord for his never-ending love. 7On that same day, Solomon dedicated the courtyard in front of the temple and got it ready to be used for worship. The bronze altar he had made was too small, so he used the courtyard to offer sacrifices to please the Lord and grain sacrifices, and also to send up in smoke the fat from the other offerings. 8For seven days, Solomon and the crowd celebrated the Festival of Shelters, and people came from as far away as the Egyptian Gorge in the south and Lebo-Hamath in the north. 9Then on the next day, everyone came together for worship. They had celebrated a total of fourteen days, seven days for the dedication of the altar and seven more days for the festival. 10Then on the twenty-third day of the seventh month, Solomon sent everyone home. They left very happy because of all the good things the Lord had done for David and Solomon, and for his people Israel. The Lord appears to Solomon again (1 Kings 9.1-9) 11The Lord 's temple and Solomon's palace were now finished. In fact, everything Solomon had planned to do was completed. 12Some time later, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and said: I heard your prayer, and I have chosen this temple as the place where sacrifices will be offered to me. 13Suppose I hold back the rain or send locusts to eat the crops or make my people suffer with deadly diseases. 14If my own people will humbly pray and turn back to me and stop sinning, then I will answer them from heaven. I will forgive them and make their land fertile once again. 15I will hear the prayers made in this temple, 16because it belongs to me, and this is where I will be worshipped for ever. I will never stop watching over it. 17Your father David obeyed me, and now, Solomon, you must do the same. Obey my laws and teachings, 18and I will keep my solemn promise to him that someone from your family will always be king of Israel. 19But if you or any of the people of Israel disobey my laws or start worshipping foreign gods, 20I will pull you out of this land I gave you. I will desert this temple where I said I would be worshipped, so that people everywhere will think it is only a joke and will make fun of it. 21This temple is now magnificent. But when these things happen, everyone who walks by it will be shocked and will ask, Why did the Lord do such a terrible thing to his people and to this temple? 22Then they will answer, It was because the people of Israel rejected the Lord their God, who rescued their ancestors from Egypt, and they started worshipping other gods. Other things Solomon did (1 Kings 9.10-28)
1While the people of Israel were still camped in the lowlands of Moab across the River Jordan from Jericho, the Lord told Moses 2to say to them: When you receive your tribal lands, you must give towns and pastures to the Levi tribe. 3That way, the Levites will have towns to live in and pastures for their animals. 4The pasture around each of these towns must be in the shape of a square, with the town itself in the centre. The pasture is to measure nine hundred metres on each side, with four hundred and fifty metres of land outside each of the town walls. This will be the Levites' pasture land. 6Six of the towns you give them will be Safe Towns where a person who has accidentally killed someone can run for protection. But you will also give the Levites forty-two other towns, 7so they will have a total of forty-eight towns with their surrounding pastures. 8Since the towns for the Levites must come from Israel's own tribal lands, the larger tribes will give more towns than the smaller ones. The Safe Towns (Deuteronomy 19.1-13; Joshua 20.1-9) 9The Lord then told Moses 10to tell the people of Israel: After you have crossed the River Jordan and are settled in Canaan, 11choose Safe Towns, where a person who has accidentally killed someone can run for protection. 12If the victim's relatives think it was murder, they might try to take revenge. Anyone accused of murder can run to one of these Safe Towns for protection and not be killed before a trial is held. 13There are to be six of these Safe Towns, 14three on each side of the River Jordan. 15They will be places of protection for anyone who lives in Israel and accidentally kills someone. Laws about murder and accidental killing The Lord said: 16Suppose you hit someone with a piece of iron or a large stone or a dangerous wooden tool. If that person dies, then you are a murderer and must be put to death 19by one of the victim's relatives. He will take revenge for his relative's death as soon as he finds you. 20Or suppose you get angry and kill someone by pushing or hitting or by throwing something. You are a murderer and must be put to death by one of the victim's relatives. 22But if you are not angry and accidentally kill someone in any of these ways, the townspeople must hold a trial and decide if you are guilty. 25If they decide that you are innocent, you will be protected from the victim's relative and sent to stay in one of the Safe Towns until the high priest dies. 26But if you ever leave the Safe Town 27and are killed by the victim's relative, he cannot be punished for killing you. 28You must stay inside the town until the high priest dies; only then can you go back home. 29The community of Israel must always obey these laws. 30Death is the penalty for murder. But no one accused of murder can be put to death unless there are at least two witnesses to the crime. 31You cannot give someone money to escape the death penalty; you must pay with your own life! 32And if you have been proved innocent of murder and are living in a Safe Town, you cannot pay to go back home; you must stay there until the high priest dies. 33I, the Lord , live among you people of Israel, so your land must be kept pure. But when a murder takes place, blood pollutes the land, and it becomes unclean. If that happens, the murderer must be put to death, so the land will be clean again. Keep murder out of Israel! The laws about married women and land
1If you have to go to war, you may find yourselves facing an enemy army that is bigger than yours and that has horses and chariots. But don't be afraid! The Lord your God rescued you from Egypt, and he will help you fight. 2Before you march into battle, a priest will go to the front of the army 3and say, Soldiers of Israel, listen to me! Today when you go into battle, don't be afraid of the enemy, and when you see them, don't panic. 4The Lord your God will fight beside you and help you win the battle. 5Then the tribal officials will say to the troops: If any of you have built a new house, but haven't yet moved in, you may go home. It isn't right for you to die in battle and for somebody else to live in your new house. 6If any of you have planted a vineyard but haven't had your first grape harvest, you may go home. It isn't right for you to die in battle and for somebody else to enjoy your grapes. 7If any of you are engaged to be married, you may go back home and get married. It isn't right for you to die in battle and for somebody else to marry the woman you are engaged to. 8Finally, if any of you are afraid, you may go home. We don't want you to discourage the other soldiers. 9When the officials have finished giving these orders, they will appoint officers to be in command of the army. 10Before you attack a town that is far from your land, offer peace to the people who live there. If they surrender and open their town gates, they will become your slaves. But if they reject your offer of peace and try to fight, surround their town and attack. Then, after the Lord helps you capture it, kill all the men. Take the women and children as slaves and keep the livestock and everything else of value. 16Whenever you capture towns in the land the Lord your God is giving you, be sure to kill all the people and animals. 17He has commanded you to completely wipe out the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 18If you allow them to live, they will persuade you to worship their disgusting gods, and you will be unfaithful to the Lord . 19When you are attacking a town, don't chop down its fruit trees, not even if you have had the town surrounded for a long time. Fruit trees aren't your enemies, and they produce food that you can eat, so don't cut them down. 20You may need wood to make ladders and towers to help you get over the walls and capture the town. But use only trees that you know are not fruit trees. Unsolved murder Moses said to Israel:
1If you see a cow or sheep wandering around lost, take the animal back to its owner. 2If the owner lives too far away, or if you don't know who the owner is, take the animal home with you and take care of it. The owner will come looking for the animal, and then you can give it back. 3That's what you should do if you find anything that belongs to someone else. Do whatever you can to help, whether you find a cow or sheep or donkey or some clothing. 4Oxen and donkeys that carry heavy loads can stumble and fall, and be unable to get up by themselves. So as you walk along the road, help anyone who is trying to get an ox or donkey back on its feet. Don't pretend to be the opposite sex Moses said to Israel: 5Women must not pretend to be men, and men must not pretend to be women. The Lord your God is disgusted with people who do that. Don't take a mother bird Moses said to Israel: 6As you walk along the road, you might see a bird's nest in a tree or on the ground. If the mother bird is in the nest with either her eggs or her baby birds, you are allowed to take the baby birds or the eggs, but not the mother bird. Let her go free, and the Lord will bless you with a long and successful life. Put a wall around your flat roof 8If you build a house, make sure to put a low wall around the edge of the flat roof. Then if someone falls off the roof and is killed, it won't be your fault. Laws against mixing different things Moses said to Israel: 9If you plant a vineyard, don't plant any other fruit tree or crop in it. If you do plant something else there, you must bring to the place of worship everything you harvest from the vineyard. 10Don't hitch an ox and a donkey to your plough at the same time. 11When you weave cloth for clothing, you can use thread made of flax or wool, but not both together. 12And when you make a coat, sew a tassel on each of the four corners. When a husband accuses his wife Moses said to Israel: 13Suppose a man starts hating his wife soon after they are married. 14He might tell ugly lies about her, and say, I married this woman, but when we slept together, I found out she wasn't a virgin. 15If this happens, the bride's father and mother must go to the town gate to show the town leaders the proof that the woman was a virgin. 16Her father will say, I let my daughter marry this man, but he started hating her 17and accusing her of not being a virgin. But he is wrong, because here is proof that she was a virgin! Then the bride's parents will show them the bed sheet from the woman's wedding night. 18The town leaders will beat the man with a whip 19because he accused his bride of not being a virgin. He will have to pay her father one hundred pieces of silver and will never be allowed to divorce her. 20But if the man was right and there is no proof that his bride was a virgin, 21the men of the town will take the woman to the door of her father's house and stone her to death. This woman brought evil into your community by sleeping with someone before she got married, and you must get rid of that evil by killing her. Laws about illegal sex Moses said: 22People of Israel, if a man is caught having sex with someone else's wife, you must put them both to death. That way, you will get rid of the evil they have done in Israel. 23If a man is caught in town having sex with an engaged woman who isn't screaming for help, they both must be put to death. The man is guilty of having sex with a married woman. And the woman is guilty because she didn't call for help, even though she was inside a town and people were nearby. Take them both to the town gate and stone them to death. You must get rid of the evil they brought into your community. 25If an engaged woman is raped out in the country, only the man will be put to death. 26Do not punish the woman at all; she has done nothing wrong, and certainly nothing deserving death. This crime is like murder, 27because the woman was alone out in the country when the man attacked her. She screamed, but there was no one to help her. 28Suppose a woman isn't engaged to be married, and a man talks her into sleeping with him. If they are caught, 29they will be forced to get married. He must give her father fifty pieces of silver as a bride price and can never divorce her. 30A man must not marry a woman who was married to his father. This would be a disgrace to his father. Who cannot become one of the Lord 's people Moses said to Israel: