Deuteronomy 23:9-14

Key Verse(s):

Deuteronomy 23:14 (CSB)

14 For the Lord your God walks throughout your camp to protect you and deliver your enemies to you; so your encampments must be holy. He must not see anything indecent among you or he will turn away from you.


This passage contains a couple examples of acts that would be considered “offensive”, or “indecent”, and have to be handled a certain way lest God “turn away” from the Israelite soldiers that are encamped.

The first example given is of an involuntary emission of semen while sleeping. A command related to this was seen previously in Leviticus 15:16. The man is then unclean, and must remove himself from the encampment until he has bathed and evening comes. This is an involuntary action, it, as described, occurs during the night, while the soldier would be sleeping.

The second example is concerned with human excrement and the fact that it should be done outside camp, and it should be covered. Although there is no statement of uncleanliness here, it can be presumed that not following these rules would result in some sort of unclean state, whether spiritual or not! This is also an emission of sorts, but this is a voluntary emission. It does occur, but there is some form of control over when and where it happens.

In the end, it would seem that, even with acts that are not inherently sinful, we can become unclean either by the act itself, and are required to respond appropriately to be cleansed, or we are expected to take appropriate steps to ensure we do not defile the places God has appointed to remain pure. And, ultimately, it is God’s decision that determines what is, and is not, clean, and it is our duty to respond appropriately, lest God turn away from us, exposing us to our enemies.


Lord, thank you for not being a capricious God, but instead telling us what is clean, and what is not, and the steps we must take to be cleansed. I’m sorry for the times I decided what was appropriate, rather than observing your guidance. I pray that we would, no matter if our condition is the result of an involuntary or voluntary act, follow your resolutions and be cleansed and restored. Amen.


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