Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, May 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 22

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-30

Deuteronomy 22:5 . All that do so are abomination to the Lord. The note of Maimonides here is, that men presenting themselves before Venus, appeared partially in female attire; and women presenting themselves before Mars, appeared in armour. Sardanapalus, the last king of Nineveh, was despised by Arbactus for being found in the dress of his queens, and assisting them in spinning.

Deuteronomy 22:8 . When thou buildest a new house thou shalt make a battlement, lest waking out of sleep one should fall down and be killed. In the east they often slept on the flat roof of their houses, which was cool and airy; and indeed they lived much there for better air than below.

Deuteronomy 22:10 . Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass; as the land might then be polluted by unnatural intercourse.

Deuteronomy 22:17 . The cloth. Uteri virginalis was given by nature to be the glory of a virgin, and to place her above the tongue of calumny, and the power of malice.

Deuteronomy 22:21 . The door of her father’s house. This would add very much shame and anguish to the father, for not having taken better care of his daughter. Wickedness cannot be suppressed without severity of justice; nor can sinners be converted without fervent cooperation with the aids of grace. Hence we learn, that the head of every house was responsible for the preservation of female virtue. Surely this law of the Hebrews was founded in wisdom, and it is worthy of adoption by every other nation.

Deuteronomy 22:22 . They shall both of them die. We do not inflict more than a fine, and often with indecent laughter in our courts. But where is the use of letting such characters live. If it be lawful to hang a man for stealing a sheep, it cannot be wrong to hang him for stealing another man’s wife. If our laws be not relax, why is Europe so full of lewdness? The Roman laws, under foul circumstances, punished adultery with death.


This chapter opens with the law of brotherly kindness; and though the duties are small in themselves, attention to them very much endears the heart of one man to another; whereas the want of these social virtues alienates the affections of neighbours. The man who restores lost property to his brother confers a favour without expense, and proves his heart to be actuated by the love of God.

The tenderness also enjoined towards the little birds, and in fact, towards every irrational creature which God has made, shows that religion should be characterized by humanity and compassion. By the fall we have brought misery enough on the creatures, and we should never augment it by any wanton treatment. One who can feast his ferocious dispositions by cruelty to either bird, beast, or insect, does himself a greater injury than that he inflicts on the helpless creature.

The injunction to build a battlement around the roof of every house, is equally humane; and assuredly it is highly applicable to our collieries, not being ventilated; to our machinery, not properly guarded, which occasion the loss of many lives. Men pursuing their business, and forgetful of danger, are often killed when a small expense would have prevented the calamity. We have before been reminded that sins of ignorance, and sins of negligence require atonement. What guilt then must the proprietors of public works bring upon themselves, by avarice and neglect.

The prohibition of yoking an ox with an ass, the one being much stronger than the other, has the same object of humanity in view. Cruelty is at all times displeasing to God. From this law, it would seem, St. Paul has taken occasion to enforce another on the christian church, and with the most pressing appeals to reason. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath light with darkness.”

The judicial attestation of a virgin’s purity against the jealous or wicked slander of her husband, and the awful manner in which she was punished, in case she had been profligate in her father’s house, gives us a sanctifying character of the purity of God, and of the holiness he requires of his people. It is assuredly the duty of every woman when tempted, to cry and shame a false lover at once, rather than suffer herself to be ruined for ever. If she was where her cries could not be heard, the law compelled the young man to marry her, and to indemnify the father. The Consistories of Switzerland, we are told by Ostervald, still enforce this law. The elders and ministers of the Kirk of Scotland have very much followed the Swiss; but in England and Ireland we are strangely relaxed. Oh what crimes might be prevented, if all good men would vigorously concur in the suppression of vice and wickedness. An institution should be established for this purpose in every town, which would urge and embolden the magistrates to act, and make the wicked afraid.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 22". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/deuteronomy-22.html. 1835.
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