Moses gives God’s instructions regarding woman who have been captured in battle. These regulations will be for wars after the conquest of the Promised Land.
God already addressed through Moses how the upcoming battles were to be conducted. The ones with the inhabitants from the Promised Land were to result in total loss of life. Even the animals were to be killed. But after the land had been secured, Israel was told they could work on expanding their territory. In the battles that resulted from those efforts only the men were required to be killed. This included any males that remained in the towns and villages instead of being on the battle field. The women and children and all the people owned were then spoils for the Israelites.
Of the women captured, Israelite men could marry them. God put down regulations regarding these marriages. When I was reading His instructions I noticed that the woman had to be a willing participant in this process. “She shall shave her head and pare her nails. And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month” (verses 12b-31).
These instructions do not give the man permission to enact these procedures for her. They don’t give the right to do these things to her by an Israelite woman either. The woman herself must perform these acts, including mourning the death of her past life.
This is a complete shedding of her old self in preparation for her new life. She has to give up everything to gain acceptance into the tribe of Israel.
I have questions about this “marriage.” We are not told of any marriage ceremony or preparation for her as a bride like there would be for one of the daughters of an Israelite. I understand that there is no dowry possible or anyone to pay a bride price to but is there anything beyond the act of agreement and consummation of the relationship that marks their “wedding”?
Rahab would join the Israelites as a bride. One book that I read, The Crimson Cord by Jill Eileen Smith, deals with the processes of the captive bride. It is a beautifully written story and if you enjoy biblical fiction I encourage you to check it out.
But I want to turn to the last portion in our reading today. This section deals with the man not being happy in the marriage. As in all the marriage relationship regulations, the man has the power to end the marriage. In this case, if the man finds that he “no longer delights in her” he has to set her free to do whatever she wants and go wherever she wishes. It could be that she looked beautiful to the eye but she had a contentious spirit about her. It could be that her beauty that drew him to her “failed” her. It could even be that she was willing to endure the process to become a free woman and became burdensome to her husband afterwards to ensure her release.
Whatever the reason, she was elevated above all her fellow captives. She could not be sold or treated as a slave for she had been “humiliated” to become the bride. She humbled herself completely to be deemed worthy to join the children of Israel. The captive is now one of God’s children.
When we ask Jesus to be our Savior, we have to humble ourselves. We have to personally choose to lay aside the things of our past that are of this world. We have to choose to “die to the flesh” to gain new life with Him. We lay aside the old and walk into the new.
The BEST part about this process though is KNOWING that our Groom will never set us aside. We will always be the delight of His eye. Not everything we do will be “delightful” but He will never give up on us. He will love us for the rest of eternity. Those who would pretend just to gain favor NEVER fool Him. He sees their hearts and acts accordingly.
Father God, I feel for the woman who found herself captive as well as the one who found herself “undesirable.” I feel like I have played in both these roles at different times in my life. The one longing for a different life, no matter what that meant and the one who was so unloved she was tossed away. You loved me through both times and every time before and after. Thank You that my worth is not tied up in being “a delight” or serving as a captive. I am a child of the King and a bride to be of the Lamb.