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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Deuteronomy 25: 13-16 Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small. Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small. But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.

Much of the Old Testament law is contained in the book of Deuteronomy. One of the many specific laws that governed God's people, in this period of earth's history, is contained in this lesson text - God's law of divers weights and measures. The word "divers" is the same as the word we know as diverse. Divers or diverse means several, varied, different or dissimilar. In other words, God's people were not to have different weights and measures for buying and selling. All weights and measures were to be accurate.

At the historical time this particular text was written, people bartered and traded for many of their needs. If you wanted salt and didn't have your own source, you must trade for it. If you were a farmer, you may trade grain for the salt. To do so required the accurate measuringof each commodity. In this particular case, lets assume that it took three ephahs (an ephah was about 4 1/2 pecks) of grain to buy one ephah of salt. As you measured out your grain you would use a container that held this exact amount. You would measure out three of these containers of grain. Likewise, you were to use the same ephah container to measure the salt. In this example, God's commandment required you to use the same size ephah for each transaction. However, it seemed common in those days that the person would have divers, or different size containers. One that measured a little less than an ephah for selling and a different container, one that measured a little more than an ephah for buying. Similar to this was the use of different weights for measuring on a balance scale. The weight for selling was to be the same weight used for buying. It was to be accurate;different weights were not to be used. The use of divers weights and measureswas unrighteous in the eyes of God. It was dishonest; it was stealing!

The same commandment that says, "Thou shalt not steal" includes the use of divers weights and measures. Defrauding others in this manner is stealing. Fraud takes many forms. One that may have been, or may still be, prevalent is when the butcher weighs his thumb along with the purchase at the meat market. The fraud of wages is another good example. The timekeeper may, on purpose, not give credit for all hours worked. Perhaps the worker consistently takes 1 1/2 hours for their "lunch hour". Isn't this stealing 1/2 hour of wages? Assume the worker earns $15 per hour, works five days a week for fifty weeks of the year. That seemingly minor 1/2 hour of wages amounts to stealing $1,875 per year.

How do we conduct ourselves in our dealings with others today? Do we give an honest day's work for the wage due us? Do we use discount coupons for merchandise that we do not purchase? Do we say "We gave at the office" to avoid giving to a worthy cause? Do we deduct church contributions that were not given when we fill out our income tax forms? And finally, do we remember the fate of Ananias and Sapphira who lied about the amount given to the apostles?

God told the Israelites, in the lesson text, that they were not to use divers weights and measures. This is the same commandment from God that applies to us today. The Israelites were not to steal and we are not to steal. When it comes to our everyday dealings with our fellow man, do we, symbolically,have divers weights and measures in our bag?