Laws About Humane Treatment
Deuteronomy 24:1 – 25:19
These verses deal with the subject of remarriage after divorce. The illustration is clearly set forth. First, a man divorces his wife because of some “indecency” (probably a reference to lewd behavior falling short of adultery) in her. Second, the divorced woman remarries. Third, the remarried divorcée is divorced by her second husband or becomes a widow. Fourth, the first husband is prohibited from remarrying the woman he initially divorced.
This verse shows God’s concern for the health of a marriage. A newlywed husband was exempted from military duty or business responsibilities for a full year. He was charged with the responsibility of spending time at home making his wife happy.
Deuteronomy 24:6 prohibits the taking of a millstone in pledge. Millstones were used to grind grain for meals. To take another man’s millstone in pledge would be taking from him something necessary for living.
Deuteronomy 24:7 indicates that kidnapping was punishable by death. In regard to leprosy (and other skin diseases), Moses referred the people to the instructions outlined in Leviticus 13-14 (24:8-9).
Deuteronomy 24:10-13 give instructions regarding the use of collateral. A man making a loan could not enter into the house of the borrower to secure something as collateral. If the only thing a poor man had to offer as collateral was his garment (used as a cloak by day and a bed covering by night), then the garment had to be returned to the poor man at the end of every day.
Deuteronomy 24:14-15 made provision for poor and needy hired servants to be paid for their labor the end of every day so that they could provide for their families.
Deuteronomy 24:16 deals with the issue of capital punishment. The theme of the verse is that every man is responsible for his own sin.
Deuteronomy 24:17-22 deal with the proper treatment of the “alien … orphan … widow” (24:17, 19). These were not to be abused by the judicial system or in the making of loans. In addition, those who owned fields of grain or fruit-producing trees were instructed to not pick them clean at harvest time so that the needy to glean from them (see for example Ruth 2).