Save the Trees
Synopsis Deuteronomy 20:15-21:4 3/4/2018
Moses described the rules of war for cities that were actually in the geographic boundaries of the Promised Land. Also, he prohibited the destruction of fruit trees at besieged cities.
Save the Trees
Ancient war was a savage business with very few rules. So, it might seem like a kind of an oddity that in the ancient Mediterranean world, it was considered deeply immoral to destroy an enemies’ fruit trees.
The issue was the nature of fruit production. The land was productive through its trees. Just for the record, by fruit trees, we’re talking primarily about olive trees and vineyard grapes. To destroy these was an act of total war because of the time it would take decades to replace destroyed trees an vines. The only purpose of this kind of destruction is the determination to complete annihilation of an adversary.
For any community, a town’s orchards were considered key infrastructure. The oil from olives was used for everything from food, to hygiene, to light from torches and lamps. Grapes were used for wine, which was an essential beverage in a land with challenges for water purity.
So destroying fruit trees as part of a siege was understood as an attack on the earth’s capacity to produce for mankind, more than an appropriate part of hurting your enemy.
Care for the Earth
Laudato Si’ invokes the fraternal brotherhood of all created things as Francis of Assisi experienced them. With this, the Authentic Community is reminded that we bear responsibility to protect that which God has given to all in common. Our failures, like our successes, will always be more than the aggregation of our individual behaviors. What we do individually matters. Yet, there is a morality in community. A community can sin just as a community can do righteously.
It is up to the Authentic Community, a pilgrim people, to bear witness. The Father cares about every sparrow, and every tree.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.” Matt 10:29