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In the Gates

Next to Godliness--The First Commandment No other gods

Next to Godliness

Deuteronomy 23.12-14

You shall have a place outside the camp, and you shall go out to it. And you shall have a trowel with your tools, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it and turn back and cover up your excrement. Because the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you.”

 

Deuteronomy 23.12-14

You shall have a place outside the camp, and you shall go out to it. And you shall have a trowel with your tools, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it and turn back and cover up your excrement. Because the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you.”

Exodus 22.31

You shall be consecrated to me. Therefore you shall not eat any flesh that is torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.”

These two statutes are something of a prelude to more comprehensive regulations concerning cleanness and uncleanness which will come in Leviticus. Israel’s property must be kept clean and decent, and the people of God must not befoul themselves with unsafe food.

The regulation concerning excrement suggests an aspect of life which, while normal, is nonetheless considered not appropriate for honoring God. This statute, besides the obvious requirement of cleanliness in personal hygiene, suggests other applications that might curtail conduct dishonoring to God: how we use our language, for example, and the kinds of stories we share with one another.

Here again are everyday reminders yet again of the call to holiness and the promise of blessing and prosperity.

This series of In the Gates we present a detailed explanation of the Law of God, beginning with the Ten Commandments, and working through the statutes and rules that accompany each commandment. For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the practice of ethics, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to www.MyParuchia.com and click on our Book Store.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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