God’s Law on Widows and Orphans (Deuteronomy)

The caring of the “fatherless” orphans and the widows is a long tradition under the Law of God. But it seems to me that in today’s policies that we have as churches and as communities forgotten that the Law of God still applies. It is as if because we are “free from the bond of the Law” we seem to think that it allows us to ignore the needs of our church families and the needs of the many people throughout the world that are in special need of Christian Love.

When we say to God that we love Him and yet neglect those in the most need of care and assistance, we forget that Jesus said that we are to care for the least of these. And when God spoke to Moses and gave him the Law, He spoke to the Nation of Israel. He established the Church and the nation of His people. The Law was not only for the individual but for community. Not only for the Nation and its people but also for the leaders of the Religious community and for the leaders of each tribe of the Sons of Abraham. It became the responsibility of the Church, the Government and the individual to Obey and to serve God’s will.

The point I am making is that just because Jesus may not have addressed the caring of widows and orphans directly, it is still the our responsibility to see to the welfare and care of them. Just because we are not “bound” to the Law does not excuse us from honoring it. We can not ignore or allow the churches, governments or each other from neglecting, abandoning or abusing the needs of the elderly or the very young. This is not a debate over the liberal or the conservative outlook of our governments, it is the critical responsibility of all. It is a matter of understanding and obeying God’s will as set down by his Law given to Moses in the desert.

reads as this: And now, O Israel, what does your God ask of you but to fear the LORD, your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.” (NIV) It is followed by telling who God is to the people and how His might is great. states that God is impartial and takes no bribes. What is the next thing on His list is () “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widows, and the alien, giving them food and clothing.” This begins a long history of how God looked upon the the care of the needing and the homeless. This was the beginning of God’s Law for the care of the fatherless and the widows. Those who were without defenders had God as the advocate. The third year tithe was for the purpose of supporting the Levies, the sojourners and the fatherless and widows.() It was to be shared responsibility of the community for the needs of the helpless and for those who had no support.God told His people that they shall not pervert justice: to the fatherless (orphans), the Widows () He also commanded that they “When you reap your harvest,…beat your olive trees,…gather your grapes…. do not go back. It is for the fatherless orphans, the sojourners and the widows.”()

When the Children of Israel were to enter in the feasts of the Passover, they were to include the fatherless and the widows and the travelers in with their own families so that they would not be excluded. This was also true of the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booths. God did not want them to be left out of anything that pertained to His Blessings.

The last verse that I want to include here is . “When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce in the third year, which is the year of tithing, giving it to the Levites (priests), the sojourner (migrants), the fatherless (orphans and abandoned children), and the widows, so that they may eat within your towns and be filled, then you shall say before the LORD your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion out of my house, and moreover, I have given it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless and the widow, according to all your commandments, nor have I forgotten them.'”

As we reflect on the Law of God, let us realize that when we pass laws of man that impede the welfare of the those who have no fathers and the widows and those who unable to work, we are impeding God. And as He is the the finial Judge, he will give justice to them in Heaven while we are to receive another form of His Justice. This goes back to the , and to and to many other times that Jesus told us that we are to be judged as to how we chose to accept or reject His Word in our lives.

As one old revivalist once told me, we may not be able to earn our way to Heaven but we can surely earned our way to Hades. Because we spend so much time in the New Testament, we tend to forget that the Love of Jesus was in fulfillment of the Old Testament and that when the disciples taught and referred to the Scriptures, they were referring to the Law of God in the Old and to the Prophets. Somehow we have blocked the commandment of community aid to the orphans, widows and, yes, to the immigrants, as we were told to by God’s own words. We have not only put up borders on our nations to keep people out, we have put up barriers on our hearts to prevent us from helping the ones who most need our assistance with in our own cities and towns.

We complain about the taxes we pay and we don’t pay our tithes as we should. Our churches are stopping their food pantries and most do not even have a program slotted to aid orphans and low income widows. And yet, as I have read Deuteronomy, we should direct one third of our tithe to the well being of these members of our society. If our pastors are to be housed and fed by the churches, then so should the orphans and widows and the homeless. It is because we in the churches have failed to take on the the task, that the governments have assumed the burden through taxes. Return to the Law of God in this area of our lives and we shall be blessed. Because we fail in the care of our weakest members of society, we have transgressed against God, we have forgotten how he has commanded us to protect the weak and defend the defenceless

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12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? (ESV)


17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. (ESV)


18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. (ESV)


29 And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do. (ESV)


17 “You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow’s garment in pledge, (ESV)


20 When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. 21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. (ESV)


12 “When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce in the third year, which is the year of tithing, giving it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your towns and be filled, 13 then you shall say before the Lord your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion out of my house, and moreover, I have given it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all your commandment that you have commanded me. I have not transgressed any of your commandments, nor have I forgotten them. (ESV)


25:1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps [1] and went to meet the bridegroom. [2] Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants [3] and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, [4] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. [5] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, [6] you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (ESV)


[1] 25:1 Or torches
[2] 25:1 Some manuscripts add and the bride
[3] 25:14 Greek bondservants; also verse 19
[4] 25:15 A talent was a monetary unit worth about twenty years’ wages for a laborer
[5] 25:21 Greek bondservant; also verses 23, 26, 30
[6] 25:40 Or brothers and sisters


16:1 He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures [1] of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures [2] of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world [3] are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, [4] so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. [5] 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.

18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. [6] The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers [7]—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” (ESV)


[1] 16:6 About 875 gallons
[2] 16:7 Between 1,000 and 1,200 bushels
[3] 16:8 Greek age
[4] 16:9 Greek mammon, a Semitic word for money or possessions; also verse 11; rendered money in verse 13
[5] 16:16 Or everyone is forcefully urged into it
[6] 16:22 Greek bosom; also verse 23
[7] 16:28 Or brothers and sisters

4 thoughts on “God’s Law on Widows and Orphans (Deuteronomy)”

  1. Amen. I’m a single mom raising a fatherless child (as my ex-husband/son’s father abandoned him years ago/is no longer in the U.S.) and the church has never asked me if I’m okay when I have always struggled. I had worked and mothered myself into exhaustion to the point of health problems and not being able to work for a few months. I have always had a huge problem with the blindness in the church that everyone is okay with supporting an able-bodied man and his family but at the same time can easily reject a widow and fatherless child in the church in need who askes for help & treat them like they’re lepers for asking – seen it happen many times. I know the Lord, when He judgment comes will judge those who rejected us and wouldn’t give our children even a gallon of milk, will deal with them.

  2. # 2Cynthia onOctober 31, 2013
    I agree that some of the churches don’t even acknowledge Widows and fatherless children. They are
    to busy with their own agendas and don’t have the heart
    to care. I’m a witness that if it was not for my heavenly father God through Christ jesus me and my children would have been in a lot of trouble after the death of my husband.

  3. a true widow is “lost her husband and is childless or has no one “including children” that are financially able to support her. this is a true widow according to Yhwh’s law

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