You may go home!

Deu 20.5-9 is interesting. Let me quote it in full first:

“Then the officers of the army must address the troops and say,

‘Has anyone here just built a new house
but not yet dedicated it?
If so, you may go home!
You might be killed in the battle,
and someone else would dedicate your house.

Has anyone here just planted a vineyard
but not yet eaten any of its fruit?
If so, you may go home!
You might die in battle,
and someone else would eat the first fruit.

Has anyone here just become engaged to a woman
but not yet married her?
Well, you may go home and get married!
You might die in the battle,
and someone else would marry her.’

Then the officers will also say,

‘Is anyone here afraid or worried?
If you are, you may go home before you frighten anyone else.’

When the officers have finished speaking to their troops, they will appoint the unit commanders.”

Anyone who, after reading this passage, think that it is so similar with some discourses of Jesus is probably correct. At least I note two of them:

1. Luk 14.15-24//Mat 22.1-14: Parable of the great feast

The parable should be familiar enough. A man held a great feast and sent out many invitations. When the banquet was ready (a few days/weeks later?), he sent out his servants to tell the guests to come. Yet, one made an excuse that he had just bought a vineyard and needed to inspect it; another that he had just bought some oxen and needed to inspect them as well; finally yet another one that he had a wife now so he couldn’t come.

The triad in the Deuteronomoy is a new house, a new vineyard, and a fiancé. So the similarity should be clear. However, if you read both passages carefully, the contrast between the Deuteronomy passage and the Lukan parable is clear as well.

2. Luk 14.25-35: The cost of discipleship

Here Jesus compared the path of discipleship to two metaphors: (1) a man who wanted to construct a building (presumably it pointed to the Jerusalem temple) and (2) a king who wanted to wage war against other king (in his day, it would be easily discernible as the Roman empire). The ‘war’ metaphor is the context of the Deuteronomy passage so it underscores the intensity and commitment that is expected from a disciple. It’s like going for a war.

Interestingly, of course, they were placed consecutively in Luke (nevertheless, they are clearly separated by the opening words in 14.25, “a large crowd was following Jesus…”, signifying change of context from the previous story), so perhaps the echo is deliberate.

Moreover, Luke has heightened the degree of commitment and sense of urgency in these two passages. Following Jesus, then, is even more serious than going for a war. It is a matter of no less than life and death.

One thought on “You may go home!

  1. quadruplex

    1. was it a must to go to war (I presume it was a holy war)? be it by law, by guilt or by pressure? coz even two and a half tribe (Reuben, Gad and half Manasseh) across the Jordan still helped the rest during the war?
    2. The advices given in Deuteronomy, was it authoritative? permitted or advised or commanded by God? or was it not supposed to be?
    3. does the commitment to war in OT translate to commitment to discipleship in NT?
    4. Were the parables really meant to counter prev advices on Deut? if yes, why? (related to the answer on s2)
    5. or were there merely some examples of daily chores that easily came to mind (in modern era: just married, just moved in, just settled down, just graduated, just entered to Uni, just being promoted, etc)?
    6. In Red Cliff 2, they tore the paper they wrote for their family. Signifying them to strive the war so that they could come home and greet their family personally, not by letter.

    Reply

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