So you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in the sight of the LORD.
This chapter contains wisdom from God on exceptional circumstances showing how to commit to justice despite evil human choices. The first instance has to do with an unsolved homicide. The leaders are to mourn the victim and express horror for the sin through a special sacrifice that the people would witness. This kept murder from feeling commonplace.
The second exceptional case is for a woman captured in battle as a war bride. God is not necessarily condoning the practice. He is addressing calloused heart attitudes. If her husband eventually does not like her, he has to treat her right, even if it means returning her to her own people (Deuteronomy 21:14).
The third case involves inheritance rights in polygamous marriages. Again, God is not condoning the practice. He is ensuring that favoritism is not practiced. The firstborn son, regardless of parentage is to be guaranteed as the heir (Deuteronomy 21:17).
The fourth episode takes place in the case of an openly rebellious child (probably a young adult). Favoritism would not withhold punishment from that child. It would create an evil to keep that sin from being punished (Deuteronomy 21:21).
The final warning is to avoid overt humiliation in the execution of capital punishment. A body was not to be displayed overnight as a grotesque warning. There was to be a level of respect shown even to a convicted and executed criminal (Deuteronomy 21:23).
These all show that God will punish sin, but will not all disrespect of people or of His law in the process.
- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.