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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 24

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-4


Verses 1:4:

This statute does not sanction nor condone divorce. It regulates it, and prescribes means for the protection of those involved, particularly the divorced wife.

In later years, Jewish thought was divided on the matter of divorce into two general interpretations:

(1) That of the rabbi Hillel, which held that a man could divorce his wife for any unbecoming reason, or for any cause, as in the Pharisees’ conversation with Jesus, Matthew 19:3.

(2) That of the rabbi Shammai, which held that only for a disgraceful thing, such as adultery, could a man divorce his wife, cf. Matthew 5:31. This was a much more strict interpretation.

The matter of divorce because of adultery was not under consideration in this text, because adultery was punishable by death, and not by divorce.

"Uncleanness," ervah, "a thing offensive," also translated "nakedness, disgracefulness." This could include a variety of serious offenses, but it does not include trivial matters.

"Bill of divorcement," sepher kerithuth, "book or writing of a cutting off." This was a legal document, which must be couched in explicit terms, and ratified in the presence of at least two witnesses.

The text makes no provision for a wife seeking a divorce from her husband. However, Jewish legal procedure allowed a wife to seek a divorce if her husband were a leper, or diseased with polypus, or engaged in a disagreeable trade, such as a tanner.

Divorce was obligatory if one of the parties renounced Judaism.

A divorced woman was free to marry another. If she be divorced by the second husband, or if the second husband died, she was forbidden to marry her first husband again. To do so would be an abomination before the Lord, and a defilement of the land.

Verse 5

Verse 5:

A newly married man could not be required to go to war, nor to be under any burden of public business, for a period of one year. He was to be free to devote himself directly to his household, and to comfort his wife. This statute shows God’s approval of marriage, and the importance He attached to establishing a stable home life.

Compare this text with Deuteronomy 20:7.

Verse 6

Verse 6:

"Nether and upper millstone," rechayim, "the two millstones." Flour was freshly-ground each day, and to take either the upper or the lower millstone would render the mill useless and would deprive the family of their food. This statute prohibits the taking of either millstone as collateral for a loan.

Verse 7

Verse 7:

Compare the text with Exodus 21:16.

Kidnapping was considered a capital crime. The text includes a provision that the kidnap victim was mistreated or sold as a slave.

Verses 8-9

Verses 8, 9:

Review Leviticus chapters 13, 14 for the Law of the Leper.

See Numbers chapter 12 for the account of what befell Miriam.

Verses 10-13

Verses 10-13:

"Pledge," abot, collateral for a loan.

This statute prohibited the lender’s going into the debtor’s house to select what he considered appropriate collateral for a loan. He must stand outside the house, and wait for the debtor to bring out the "pledge" to him.

Among the poor, it was customary to use the outer cloak or garment as a covering for the night. If a debtor used this as collateral for a loan, the lender must return it to him at night.

God designed financing laws that they might not become oppressive to one who found it necessary to borrow. At the same time, these laws provided just re-payment of all loans to the lender.

Compare this text with Exodus 22:25-27.

Verses 14-15

Verses 14, 15:

Compare this text with Leviticus 19:13.

The employer must pay punctually what is due his employees. This law applied alike to the Israelites and to the "strangers" who lived among them.

Verse 16

Verse 16:

It was a common practice among heathen nations that entire families be put to death for the crimes of the family head, cf. Ezra 9:7-14. God’s law forbade this practice. Compare 2 Kings 14:1-6; Jeremiah 31:29-30; Ezekiel 18:1-23.

Verses 17-18

Verses 17, 18:

Compare this text with Exodus 22:21-24; Exodus 23:9; Leviticus 19:33-34.

The garments of a widow were not to be taken as security for a loan. The orphan was not to be mistreated. This provision applied also to the strangers, foreigners or non-Israelis who lived in the land.

To enforce this provision, God reminded Israel that they themselves were once "strangers" in Egypt.

Verses 19-22

Verses 19-22:

Statutes regarding the poor and needy were both negative and positive. Not only did they forbid mistreatment of the widow, orphan, and stranger; they mandated that there be provision for their needs. This was the purpose of the "gleanings."

Compare this text with Leviticus 19:9-10; Leviticus 23:22; Ruth 2:1-13.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/deuteronomy-24.html. 1985.
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