A wide variety of instructions comprise the message of this section. It is not easy to divide it into a clear-cut, specific outline. Some of the themes are:
Taking care of a lost or injured animal (22:1-4) – If a person’s animal went astray and an Israelite found it, he was to return it to its owner. If one found the animal but did not know to whom it belonged, he was to take care of it until its master sought it out. The same was true for the non-living possessions of others. If one saw his brother’s animal injured, he was to provide assistance. Such laws should have instilled within God’s people a recognition of the importance of a person’s property rights, kind treatment of animals, and the need to have a benevolent spirit.
Sundry laws on keeping certain things separate (22:5-12) – Wearing clothes that are worn by those of the opposite gender, mother birds and their babies, sowing with different types of seeds, and plowing with different kinds of animals – these are some of the commands recorded in this passage. The statutes seem clear enough, though explanations are not provided for most of them. Know this: (1) If God gave such laws, then they were right; (2) If God gave such laws, then He had a reason/purpose for them; (3) While the Israelites may not always have known the exact reasoning behind a command, they knew what was expected of them – submit to it without grumbling.
Various laws on sexual misconduct (22:13-30) – If accusations were made against someone for sexual misconduct, no punishment could be carried out without proper investigation and securing of evidence. It was wrong to ignore proof and faithful testimony, but it was just as wrong to make a false accusation.
If a man took a wife and at some point after the marriage claimed that his wife was not a virgin when she married him, there were two possibilities: (1) his claim was false, which would result in him paying a fine for causing her to have a bad name and never being able to divorce her or (2) his claim was true, the punishment being that she would be put to death.
Death by stoning was the punishment for committing adultery (22:22-24). On the other hand, a plain distinction was made if it was a case of rape. If a man raped a women, then he was to be put to death, while she obviously was guilty of no sin (22:25-27). What about two single people committing fornication? The man was required to pay a penalty fee to her father, he must take her as his wife, and he would never be allowed to divorce her (22:28,29).
May we always have respect for the sanctity of marriage and God’s arrangement for the home.
— Roger D. Campbell