Civil and Social Legislation

Discovery for Students

Civil and Social Legislation



Deuteronomy 16:1 through 26:19

“And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments.” (Deuteronomy 26:18)


It had been forty years since God had given the first covenant to Moses at Mount Sinai. In this portion of Deuteronomy, Moses reiterated the Covenant between God and Israel to a new generation of Israelites. He explained the Passover, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles. He then commanded the appointment of officers and judges, and explained the procedure of judgment.

Moses went on to give rules for future kings of Israel, outlined the offerings for the priest, and emphasized the importance of shunning wicked pagan ways. Next came the prophecy of a prophet to come who would speak the words of God, and then a warning was given about false prophets.

In chapter 19, Moses established cities of refuge for those who had shed a man’s blood, and he gave more rules regarding courts of law. Chapter 20 deals with rules for the military. Chapter 21 deals with unsolved murders and laws concerning captive wives and laws about rebellious sons. Chapters 22-25 explain miscellaneous laws including sexual conduct and marriage. Chapter 26 explains offerings of first fruits and tithes.

It was important that the Israelites completely knew and understood the law because not only did adherence to the law assure respect and harmony among the people, but also God’s blessing or judgment depended on the people’s obedience to the law. It dealt with life or death matters, physically as well as spiritually.


  1. Deuteronomy 24:7 indicates that man’s value has no monetary price. What principle concerning the treatment of others can you infer from this law?
  2. God designated a stiff penalty for false witnesses. (Deuteronomy 19:16-19) What do you think He feels about those who speak words damaging to someone else’s reputation?
  3. God was against cruel and inhumane punishment. Deuteronomy 25:2-3 limits the number of lashes a condemned person could receive. What was the number? What principle is indicated for parents or persons in authority?
  4. What principle regarding another person’s property is developed in Deuteronomy 22:1-4? What should we do if we cause damage?
  5. Honesty is a universal and ageless law. Guidelines are given to us in Deuteronomy 25:13-14. How can we apply this principle today?
  6. Deuteronomy 23:21-23 addresses the subject of vows. What two principles are brought out in these verses? What might be a better alternative than making a vow?
  7. What godly principle does Deuteronomy 24:19-21 reinforce?
  8. Deuteronomy 17:1 says that the people were not to offer unto God a blemished sacrifice. In Deuteronomy 26, God asked for an offering of the firstfruits of the crops. What does this tell of God’s expectations from His people?
  9. God concluded the final chapter in this week’s text by commissioning the people to be holy and to keep His commandments. He called them to be a peculiar people. Describe what God meant by “peculiar.” How should we fit that profile today?


The precepts and direction given in these chapters are not only important from a historical perspective, but also contain valuable and essential advice for us today. Essentially, if we want to be one of God’s people, we too, have to follow all His commandments.