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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 23

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

Verses 1-25

Deuteronomy 23:1 . Shall not enter the congregation. Eunuchs might worship there, as appears from the viiith of Acts; but they could not hold any office. In regard to devotion, God has promised the pious Eunuch a place in his house, and a name better than that of sons and of daughters. Isaiah 56:5.

Deuteronomy 23:3 . An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the congregation. The crime of Baal-peor was a very awful breach; and to this day we find certain crimes of ancestors deeply to affect posterity. Yet they often became proselytes. Judith 14. A woman proselyted to Judaism might marry a Jew, as appears from the case of Ruth, and of others.

Deuteronomy 23:15 . The servant escaped from his master. The Jews restrict this precept to the slaves of neighbouring nations; but it obviously tends to discourage slavery, and it exempts a slave from blame in case of making his escape.

Deuteronomy 23:17 . No whore no sodomite. These must be put to death. In the apostate ages of Judea, we find characters of this kind very numerous, which hastened the destruction of the country. If a woman cannot take care of herself, the magistrate ought to do it for her till she can find sureties. It is far cheaper for a nation to keep them in a house of industry, than to allow them to spread their nets in the streets. The Hebrew word rendered “whore,” signifies devoted; as the Babylonian women brought their hire to Venus. Herodotus, Clio. The LXX read, no “whoremonger,” which seems correct, being joined with the sodomite.

Deuteronomy 23:19 . Usury. See Leviticus 25:37.

Deuteronomy 23:25 . Thou mayest pluck the ears. This was a humane law towards the afflicted and aged poor; but in our country children should be early apprized, that the like liberties may subject them to penalties.


If fornicators, idolaters, and all the unclean were thus excluded from the camp of Israel, how much more should all such wicked people be expelled from the church of God. We should never degrade the divine glory, by accounting christian society less holy than the commonwealth of Israel. No man who has committed any known and studied wickedness, is fit to enter the Lord’s house, till he has wept for his sins. The church has most assuredly a right to expel from her communion every one who shall relapse into gross and scandalous sins, and to suspend those who shall be guilty of habitual negligence, and of associating improperly with the carnal world.

The kindness here enjoined to be showed to the Egyptians, notwithstanding the subsequent oppression; and to the Edomites, being the descendants of Esau, in memory of former kindness, shows that gratitude is of everlasting obligation; and happy is the constitution and government of a nation, when strangers prefer it to their native land. Happy also is England to have been so long the asylum of strangers, and the refuge of the distressed. May thy prosperity, oh highly favoured land, be lasting as the heavens and the earth.

The paddle which could easily be unscrewed from the spear, is no small indication of the cleanliness and decency preserved in the camp of Israel; for God was among the people; and we may consequently infer how clean and decent every christian should be in his house, garden, and dress. Our bodies, our families, and our dwellings are the Lord’s: and outward decencies should be but emblems of the greater purity of our desires, and the sincerity of our hearts.

The abhorrence which is testified against bringing the hire of a prostitute into the sanctuary of God, shows that all such characters are under his wrath and indignation; nor can they approach the extremity of his courts, unless it be with the deepest repentance. A wicked man who has the effrontery to appear among the saints with an undaunted countenance, is adding hypocrisy to crime, and preparing for himself the greater condemnation. When a man is not sincere in his approaches to God, he becomes the worst character of humankind.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/deuteronomy-23.html. 1835.
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