Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Deuteronomy on How to Fight a War and Save Trees

Biblical Draft Dodging
People who 1) have a newly built house 2) have a newly planted vineyard 3) are engaged, should not fight when there is a war. They are exempt. How’s that for a generous draft policy? But what about cowards, people who were afraid to fight. What kind of terrible punishment would God heap on them? “Let him go and return to his house, lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart” (Deu 20:8). Nothing. He can go home. Imagine what the Vietnam War would have looked like if we obeyed such a law.

Biblical Conservation

“When you besiege a city for a long time, while making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them; if you can eat of them, do not cut them down to use in the siege, for the tree of the field is man’s food. Only the trees which you know are not trees for food may you destroy and cut down, to build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it is subdued.” –Deu 20:19-2

To my knowledge, this is the first conservation law on record. The Israelites, no matter how desperate the fighting got, could never chop down a single fig tree, not if the entire siege depended on it. The interesting thing about this conservation law and what makes it different from others is that it’s not motivated by concerns about biodiversity or inherent value of nature. The reason for the law was practical use in nourishing humans, ‘for the tree of the field is man’s food.’ It’s not an endangered species that would prevent a new development: it’s a fruit tree. Imagine being able to prevent a development company from leveling your property by having an apple tree planted in your front yard.

No comments:

Post a Comment