Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

The Most Precious People

Pregnant women.

Amos 1:13–15

Thus says the LORD:

“For three transgressions of the people of Ammon, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment,
Because they ripped open the women with child in Gilead,
That they might enlarge their territory.
But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah,
And it shall devour its palaces,
Amid shouting in the day of battle,
And a tempest in the day of the whirlwind.
Their king shall go into captivity,
He and his princes together,”
Says the LORD.

The Hebrew verb translated as “ripped” here also means split. Since, soldiers likely did this with swords, “split” may be the better translation. This is particularly evil. God has made it clear that pregnant women get special honor and treatment.

“If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” — Exodus 21:22–25

This punishment for an unintended consequence—the men were fighting with each other, not the woman—is particularly severe. They are subject to punishment even if no harm follows. Conversely, even killing another man has an escape clause.

“He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. However, if he did not lie in wait, but God delivered him into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee.” — Exodus 21:12–13

“Now among the cities which you will give to the Levites you shall appoint six cities of refuge, to which a manslayer may flee.” — Numbers 35:6a

So, the Ammonites are in big trouble. But notice that it’s the leadership who gets enslaved. This connects to the reason for the transgressions. They committed these horrors to enlarge their territory.

That’s on orders from the top.

There is much unjustified confusion about Exodus 21:22. The Hebrew translated as, “she gives birth prematurely” is only two words: “child” (יֶלֶד “yel-id”) and “goes out” (יצא “yah-tsa”).

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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