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Bible Commentaries

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
Deuteronomy 25

 

 

Verse 1-2

Render it:

(1) If there be a controversy between men, and they come to judgment, and the judges judge them, and justify the righteous and condemn the wicked (compare the marginal reference. and Exodus 23:7; Proverbs 17:15);

(2) then it shall be, etc.

Deuteronomy 25:2

Scourging is named as a penalty in Leviticus 19:20. The beating here spoken of would be on the back with a rod or stick (compare Proverbs 10:13; Proverbs 19:29; Proverbs 26:3).


Verse 3

The Jews to keep within the letter of the law fixed 39 stripes as the maximum (compare the marginal reference.). Forty signifies the full measure of judgment (compare Genesis 7:12; Numbers 14:33-34); but the son of Israel was not to be lashed like a slave at the mercy of another. The judge was always to be present to see that the Law in this particular was not overpassed.


Verse 4

Compare the marginal references. In other kinds of labor the oxen were usually muzzled. When driven to and fro over the threshing-floor in order to stamp out the grain from the chaff, they were to be allowed to partake of the fruits of their labors.


Verses 5-10

The law of levirate marriage. The law on this subject is not unique to the Jews, but is found (see Genesis 38:8) in all essential respects the same among various Oriental nations, ancient and modern. The rules in these verses, like those upon divorce, do but incorporate existing immemorial usages, and introduce various wise and politic limitations and mitigations of them. The root of the obligation here imposed upon the brother of the deceased husband lies in the primitive idea of childlessness being a great calamity (compare Genesis 16:4; and note), and extinction of name and family one of the greatest that could happen (compare Deuteronomy 9:14; Psalm 109:12-15). To avert this the ordinary rules as to intermarriage are in the case in question (compare Leviticus 18:16) set aside. The obligation was onerous (compare Rth 4:6 ), and might be repugnant; and it is accordingly considerably reduced and restricted by Moses. The duty is recognized as one of affection for the memory of the deceased; it is not one which could be enforced at law. That it continued down to the Christian era is apparent from the question on this point put to Jesus by the Sadducees (see the marginal references).

Deuteronomy 25:5

No child - literally, “no son.” The existence of a daughter would clearly suffice. The daughter would inherit the name and property of the father; compare Numbers 27:1-11.

Deuteronomy 25:9

Loose his shoe from off his foot - In token of taking from the unwilling brother all right over the wife and property of the deceased. Planting the foot on a thing was an usual symbol of lordship and of taking possession (compare Genesis 13:17; Joshua 10:24), and loosing the shoe and handing it to another in like manner signified a renunciation and transfer of right and title (compare Rth 4:7-8 ; Psalm 60:8, and Psalm 108:9). The widow here is directed herself, as the party slighted and injured, to deprive her brother-law of his shoe, and spit in his face (compare Numbers 12:14). The action was intended to aggravate the disgrace conceived to attach to the conduct of the man.

Deuteronomy 25:10

The house … - Equivalent to “the house of the barefooted one.” To go barefoot was a sign of the most abject condition; compare 2 Samuel 15:30.


Verse 12

This is the only mutilation prescribed by the Law of Moses, unless we except the retaliation prescribed as a punishment for the infliction on another of bodily injuries Leviticus 24:19-20. The act in question was probably not rare in the times and countries for which the Law of Moses was designed. It is of course to be understood that the act was willful, and that the prescribed punishment would be inflicted according to the sentence of the judges.


Verses 13-19

Honesty in trade, as a duty to our neighbor, is emphatically enforced once more (compare Leviticus 19:35-36). It is noteworthy that John the Baptist puts the like duties in the forefront of his preaching (compare Luke 3:12 ff); and that “the prophets” (compare Ezekiel 45:10-12; Amos 8:5; Micah 6:10-11) and “the Psalms” Proverbs 16:11; Proverbs 20:10, Proverbs 20:23, not less than “the Law,” especially insist on them.

Deuteronomy 25:13

Divers weights - i. e. stones of unequal weights, the lighter to sell with, the heavier to buy with. Stones were used by the Jews instead of brass or lead for their weights, as less liable to lose anything through rust or wear.

Deuteronomy 25:17-19

It was not after the spirit or mission of the Law to aim at overcoming inveterate opposition by love and by attempts at conversion (contrast Luke 9:55-56). The law taught God‘s hatred of sin and of rebellion against Him by enjoining the extinction of the obstinate sinner. The Amalekites were a kindred people Genesis 36:15-16; and living as they did in the peninsula of Sinai, they could not but have well known the mighty acts God had done for His people in Egypt and the Red Sea; yet they manifested from the first a persistent hostility to Israel (compare Exodus 17:8, and note; Numbers 14:45). They provoked therefore the sentence here pronounced, which was executed at last by Saul (1 Samuel 15:3 ff).

 


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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 25:4". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/deuteronomy-25.html. 1870.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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