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Wednesday, July 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 25

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-19

Israel at Home

Chaps. Deuteronomy 23:15 to Deuteronomy 25:19

15Thou shalt not deliver5 unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee: 16He shall dwell with thee, even among you in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates where it liketh [good for him, so margin] him best: thou shalt not oppress him. 17There shall be no whore6 [consecrated, devoted one] of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel. 18Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog into the house of the Lord thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the Lord thy God. 19Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother [lay upon thy brother]: usury7 of money, usury of victuals, usury of anything that is lent [accustomed to be lent] upon usury: 20Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it. 21When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the Lord thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be [and it is] sin in thee. 22But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. 23That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a free-will offering [freely, voluntarily] according as thou hast vowed unto the Lord thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth. 24When thou comest into thy neighbor’s vineyard, then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill at thine own pleasure [as thy desire (soul) is]; but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel. 25When thou comest into the standing-corn of thy neighbor, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand: but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbor’s standing-corn.

Deuteronomy 24:1 to Deuteronomy 22:1 When [If] a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that [if] she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness [nakedness of a thing] in her: then let him write her a bill of 2divorcement,8 and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when 3she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement [a separating writing], and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; 4Her former husband which sent her away, may not take her again [return to take her] to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin [make it sinful] which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance. 5When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business9: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken. 6No man shall take the nether [the hand-mill] or the upper10 mill-stone to pledge: for he taketh a man’s life to pledge. 7If a man be found stealing any of his [a soul (person) of his] brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him [constrain him violently] or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you. 8Take heed in the plague of leprosy, that thou observe diligently, and do according to all that [as] the priests the Levites shall teach you: as I commanded them, so ye shall observe to do. 9Remember what the Lord thy God did unto Miriam by the way, after that ye were come [in your coming] forth out of Egypt. 10When thou dost lend11 thy brother anything, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch12 his pledge: 11Thou shalt stand abroad, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee: 12And if the man be poor [a bound, oppressed man], thou shalt not sleep with his pledge: 13In any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment [over-cloak, mantle], and bless thee; and it shall be righteousness unto thee before the Lord thy God. 14Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates: 15At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it, for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it [lifteth his soul unto it]: lest he cry [and he shall not cry] against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee. 16The fathers shall not be put to death for [with, on account of] the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for [in] his own sin. 17Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless, nor take a widow’s raiment to pledge: 18But thou shalt remember that [And remember, for] thou wast a bond-man in Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing [word]. When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, 19thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands. 20When thou beatest thine olive-tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again13 [search the boughs after thee]: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. 21When thou gatherest [cuttest off] the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward [after this]: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. 22And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bond-man in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.

Deuteronomy 25:1 to Deuteronomy 19:1 If there be a controversy between men, and they come [near (hither)] unto judgment, that [and] the judges may [omit may] judge them; 2then [and] they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked. Ana [Then] it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten [a son of stripes], that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault [what his fault requires] by a certain number. 3Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee. 4Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out [lit. and marg.: in his threshing] the corn. 5If brethren dwell together, and one of them die and have no child [son], the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s14 brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her. 6And it shall be, that the first-born which she beareth, shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel. 7And if the man like not to take his brother’s15 wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s 8brother. Then [And] the elders of his city shall[om. shall] call him, and speak unto him: and if [om. if] he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her, 9Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer [reply], and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house. 10And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed [the bare-footed]. 11When men strive together one with another [together a man and his brother], and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets: 12Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her. 13Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights [stone and a stone. So the marg.], a great and a small: 14Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures [an ephah and an ephah, marg.], 15a great and a small: But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just16 measure shalt thou have; that thy days may be 16lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. For all [every one] that do such things, and all [every one] that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God. 17Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, 18when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he [who] met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary: and he feared not God. Therefore [And] it shall be, when the Lord thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; 19thou shalt not forget it.


1.Deuteronomy 23:15-18. The previous directions for war, offer the point of union here, since in the time of war servants might easily escape from the enemy. It occurs, however, when Israel was abroad in the field; but now he is at home, Deuteronomy 23:16; hence there is a return so far to Deuteronomy 23:1-8, as (Deuteronomy 23:15) the dwelling of a heathen servant might be hazardous as to the sacred character of the people of God. But the escaped (who will rescue himself) to Israel desires the very same thing which Israel himself had experienced at the hand of God (Deuteronomy 23:15, נצל); without considering, that the individual ownership, the right of possession, even according to Egyptian ideas, “ceases when that of the whole people comes to an end.” (Schultz). If Jehovah delivers the enemy before Israel, Israel should not deliver any one, even a slave, into hostile, and at the same time arbitrary power. סגר Hiphil delivered to be shut up, in order to be held more securely, perhaps even at first to be cruelly punished. Deuteronomy 23:16. But even in Israel itself such a fugitive should not be made to feel his position by oppression, fraud, defamation, etc., (Exodus 22:21; Leviticus 19:33), but should be permitted to do as he likes, as a fellow-dweller in the good land of Jehovah. Comp. upon Deuteronomy 1:16; Deuteronomy 10:18 sq.; Deuteronomy 14:29 (Deuteronomy 14:21). “No active efforts for the conversion of the heathen were enjoined.” Baumgarten. Such a reception of one escaping from the heathen meets however, Deuteronomy 23:17, immediately its limitations. This consecrated (prostitute) belonged to the Phœnician, Syrian goddess of love (Astarte, Mylitta). Prostitution might awaken in Israel a like religious service with that existing of old in Canaan (Genesis 38:21) so that the designation (Kedeshah) becomes an honorable title for a prostitute, (Leviticus 19:29). There were Sodomites also, Leviticus 18:22; Job 36:14 (1 Kings 14:24; 2 Kings 23:7). Still less should they deliver to Jehovah (Deuteronomy 23:18) the gift or hire. זונה from זנה to depart from the true form of the sexual life, marriage; to digress, to commit excesses. Such gifts were a reward for religious iniquity, a present in which the God of Israel was treated as a lust idol. The special gift was a kid of the goats, Genesis 38:17 sq., but also money, hence the price of a dog, not the money received for a dog sold, but the reward of gain of Kadesh (κίναιδος) a Sodomite, one who endured, “what one dog suffers from another.” Knobel. Used here figuratively, because it had grown into a terminus technicus (Revelation 22:15; Revelation 21:8). Upon house of the Lord. Comp. Intro., § 4, I. 23. For any vow, as Phænician lewdness, dedicated especially these fruits of the body to idols. Even both these, the gift and the giver.

2.Deuteronomy 23:19-20. The discourse passes from God to our neighbor, as in Deuteronomy 23:20, at the close, back again to God, in a genuine deuteronomic way, showing the profound understanding of the law, of the connection between the two tables. Deuteronomy 23:19. נֶשֶׁךְ (from נשׁך to bite) literally something biting, oppressive, the Hiphil is not to give interest, but to take, as Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:36 sq.; for if the taking was forbidden, the obligation not to give is of course evident, especially since only the necessity of a brother could bring him to borrow, in the simple relations of Israel, and unselfish love should have arranged for this. We are not to think here of the speculations of trade. Deuteronomy 23:20. Comp. Deuteronomy 15:3; Deuteronomy 15:6; Deuteronomy 14:21; for the rest Deuteronomy 12:7. The stranger is perhaps one passing through Israel for purposes of trade, not one (גר) remaining or dwelling for a time among Israel. The Phœnicians, Arabians certainly, took interest from Israel. [The permission to take usury (interest) from the stranger carries with it of course the principal. And it is probable that the loaning of money at fair and easy rates, to aid or accommodate a brother, is not here prohibited. And even if prohibited here, it is only for the special cases, and in the peculiar circumstances of the ancient people of God.—A. G.].

3.Deuteronomy 23:21-23. נדר, kindred with נזר to set apart, in Niphal: to abstain from anything, to consecrate oneself to anything, hence נדר a devoted thing. The fulfilling must follow. Comp. Deuteronomy 15:9. If sin, then of course the demand with penalty. On the other hand the vow, even when near at hand, and customary, may be discontinued. For it is, Deuteronomy 23:23, voluntary, or a free-will offering; but the freedom before it is uttered, makes the obligation still stronger afterwards. שׁמר as always to preserve. נְדָבָה voluntariness, here without the בְּ (Hosea 14:5), merely voluntary, from נָדַב to move, to give freely, intrans. movable, to be willing, generous, אשר generally what was vowed, especially the utterance, or vow. Comp. moreover Leviticus 27:0; Num 6:30.

4.Deuteronomy 23:24-25. The freedom over against God (with respect to that belonging to Him) leads now again to a corresponding freedom in regard to the property of our neighbor: the more comprehensible as Jehovah is the literal and permanent owner of the promised land. These verses relate to the thirsting and hungry, the former standing first here as the deepest and most painful necessity. The needy one therefore is not the laborer, but rather the traveller, the passer by. It is expressly forbidden that any one should make out of this freedom a means of support. The literal poverty in Israel is not in view here. Comp. further Deuteronomy 12:15; Deuteronomy 12:20 sq.; Deuteronomy 14:26. Fill thy desire. שׂבע, full, be satisfied, satisfaction. Accusative of the closer limitation. Deuteronomy 23:25. Comp. upon Deuteronomy 16:9. מְלִילָה the ears as standing out. [Ges.: as cut off], (Matthew 12:1; Luke 6:1). Usually roasted, Leviticus 23:14. Thus take no store along with them.

5.Deuteronomy 24:1-5. This chapter leads us into the home of the Israelite, into his domestic life. Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Of divorce. Deuteronomy 24:1. Comp. Deuteronomy 22:13; Deuteronomy 21:13. To marry a wife, according to this, is to take property into possession, hence to become her lord. The divorce was thus as a mater of fact supposed, and indeed in the case which Moses, in this view of the wife, must leave as it is—when in the closer and daily intercourse of life she was not pleasing to the husband—and thus entirely as in subjection to him who had power over her. Her not finding favor with him must truly rest upon a previous finding on his side with regard to her, and through this has its ground and motives. While the latter finding is always put into the husband’s hands alone, it must still be something that is nakedness (uncleanness) and not might be nakedness (Deuteronomy 23:14). Thus a physical or moral occasion for divorce. The school of Hillel at the time of Christ interpreted it as κατὰ πᾶσαν αἰταἰαν (Matthew 19:3), i.e., any thing which may not be pleasing to the husband—purely subjective. The stricter school of Schammai confined it to some immodesty, shamelessness, lewdness, adultery. But this latter was a capital crime. Knobel holds correctly, no doubt, to some physical defect. Upon the writing see Hengstenb. Auth. I. 460. In connection with the supposed spread of the art of writing among Israel, this divorce does not appear to have been directly made more difficult by the סֵפֶר (letter, writing) of divorcement, although this may have been the case when “the learned priest or Levite must be brought, who would seek to reconcile the husband.” Herxheimer. Such a form of divorce, gave only into the hand of the divorced wife that which would show, that she was legitimately dismissed, and so free, both generally and before other men, and over against her husband hitherto (Deuteronomy 24:4). Deuteronomy 24:2. Is a description of her freedom. Deuteronomy 24:3. In direct continuance of the preceding, Deuteronomy 24:1-2, this verse now utters more fully the case, which is literally in view here. Comp. Deuteronomy 21:15; Deuteronomy 22:13. A decided hatred alternates with what is said, Deuteronomy 24:1, which as to the rest is repeated, except that the case of a wife freed again by the event of death is further supposed here. The apodosis now follows with the condition or limitation of the divorce. [See textual notes. The sentence should be read as one, Deuteronomy 24:1-4. The pointing in the original makes it clear that Moses does not institute or command divorce. The pointing in our version implies that he does so. He is merely prescribing limitations or regulations to a prevailing custom, which was not in accordance with the institution of marriage, and was only permitted there in this limited sense, and under these restrictions, “for the hardness of their hearts.” At the same time all these directions tend evidently to prevent any hasty or passionate rupture of the marriage bond, and to guard the interests of the wife as the party most needing protection. For while it seems probable that the wife might initiate the divorce, it was very seldom done.—A. G.]. It is worthy of notice, that the original husband is designated בעל, while the second is always called merely אִישּׁ But although the idea of marriage according to its institution (Genesis 2:23 sq.) may not be brought out in this connection, yet still the prohibition, this legal impossibility to take her again, would serve without doubt to check, a hasty divorce, the degradation of the woman, and especially the bestializing of the sexual relation of man and wife. Reconciliation is possible, indeed may be silently read between the lines (comp. 2 Samuel 3:14), but not the taking her again to wife, after that (אַהֲרֵי referring to the אִיש־אחר, Deuteronomy 24:2), she is defiled. Hothpaal: Suffered herself to be defiled. Polluta est alius concubitu. J. H. Michaelis. [Thus it is clear even in these verses. As the Bib. Com. remarks “that divorce whilst tolerated for the time contravenes the order of nature and of God. The divorced woman who marries again is defiled.” This of course is subject to the interpretation of our Lord, who Himself makes divorce valid, and the innocent party free, on the ground of adultery. Our Lord’s teaching on this subject is found in Matthew 5:31-32; Matthew 19:3-9; Luke 16:18; and Mark 10:2-12. It seems to be clear that we are here taught that while marriage is an indissoluble compact between one man and one woman, which cannot be dissolved at the mere arbitrary will of either party, or indeed of both parties, it may be dissolved by the sin of fornication on the part of either. If a man puts away his wife for any other cause, he commits adultery; if upon this ground he is not guilty of any offence. Where divorce takes place upon this ground there is no sin, even if the man marries again. He is free; as the bond has been annulled by the sin of the other party, and so vice versa.—A. G.]. See Leviticus 18:20; Numbers 5:13 sq., of adultery. Man and wife are one flesh, Genesis 2:24. To become the same with a third party is not barely a levitical (Leviticus 15:18) but a moral desecration of the marriage union. So fundamentally and essentially, Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9. As the second marriage of the divorced was defilement, so here remarriage with her first husband is abomination before (in the face of) Jehovah; expressively said in every case as Deuteronomy 7:25; Deuteronomy 12:31; Deuteronomy 22:5. Comp. further Leviticus 18:25; Jeremiah 3:1. sq.

Deuteronomy 24:5. The newly formed marriage. A new wife, in distinction from the old, just forbidden him, from whom he had divorced himself; a first or a second wife, perhaps even a divorced or a widow. צָבָא a concentration of the soldierly or warlike manhood, Deuteronomy 20:7. While the betrothed must present himself, and then be dismissed, the newly-married is naturally not first marched out for a like release. To the previous prohibition limiting and making more difficult the marriage separation, now we have a positive relaxation in the interest of the marriage union, showing at the same time liberal indulgence to the fresh marriage band. עבר על to break in upon, to pass over any one. Job 13:13. Here generally no public burden. לכל as in Deuteronomy 23:18. At home, for the good of his just established domestic life. And cheer up his wife instead of causing her sorrow through the exposure of his life, or burdening her with care of any kind.

6. Deuteronomy 24:6-7. The founding of a home leads naturally to its preservation. Deuteronomy 24:0:6חָבַל to bind, by the taking of a pledge, to pledge. רֵחַיִם the handmill, the dual, to indicate the millstones, literally the grinder, from רָחָה to rub, crush. Neither the whole was to be so taken, nor the רֶכֶב in the sense of fixing—the lower stationary—or in the sense of moving [or as the rider] the upper movable stone. The daily preparation of the daily bread depended upon this, and consequently the life (soul) of the poor who had only the most necessary utensils. F. Bovet, in a description of a house at the village of Bireh, says: “the furniture consists of a handmill and a large earthen vessel containing the grain. The mill is a stone mortar, in which they turn a millstone by means of a handle, as in our corn-mills.” [See Thomson, The Land and the Book, pp. 294–296, for the structure and mode of using the mill.—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 24:7. The house should not only be preserved for the Israelite, but the Israelite at his home. נֶפֶש introduces the transition. Comp. further Deuteronomy 21:14. The harsh, violent treatment, is, as a true deuteronomic and real explanation, inserted between גנב and מכרּ Exodus 21:16; (1 Timothy 1:10; Revelation 18:13). Comp. still Deuteronomy 13:6. [Wordsworth: “St. Paul transcribes 1 Corinthians 5:13, the words of the Sept. here, and thus teaches us to apply these Levitical laws to spiritual things.”—A. G.].

7. Deuteronomy 24:8-9. The case, when an Israelite must leave his home, is: in the נֶגַע—time (upon the skin as from a blow) of צָרַעַת (from צָרַע to break forth) i.e., of the eruption, thus at the first appearance; as more precisely explained, Leviticus 13:0. sq. Schultz and Keil understand the בְ needlessly as if: take heed because (of the cost) of the plague of leprosy (as a punishment, i.e., do nothing to incur it). Luther, as the Vulg., takes בְ for מִן, from before. They should exactly and strictly observe (שׁמר) hold fast, what Moses had commanded the priests and Levites (Intro., § 4, I. 22). They thus direct only (Deuteronomy 17:10) according to the law, when they in case of the leprosy remove any one from his home and separate him from the people (Leviticus 13:45-46). The strictness of the admonition is followed by an equally stringent command to obedience, and this, Deuteronomy 24:9, is enforced by a reference to Miriam, Numbers 12:10 sq. In the case of Miriam the leprosy was the punishment for her rebellion against Moses; but it is not the leprosy, but what Jehovah had done to her (Numbers 12:14), her separation beyond the camp, which is here in view. The onward march of the people was at that time restrained by her course, Numbers 12:15. Neither the rank nor the person could be regarded.

8. 10–13. For the rest, the home of a fellow-Israelite must be respected. Deuteronomy 24:10. Comp. Deuteronomy 15:2; Deuteronomy 15:6. Johlson: In order to take his pledge. Herxheimer: To seize from him a pledge or security. The lender should not invade or disturb the home of the debtor, he is not to act as a landlord. It presupposes better relations than Deuteronomy 24:6. According to Deuteronomy 24:11 the borrower defines what the pledge shall be; that he can do without it, is also presupposed according to Deuteronomy 24:6. For if it is something which he can spare, indeed, but only for the day, so it may be taken from him only for the day. Deuteronomy 24:12 sq.; Comp. Exodus 22:25-26. Deuteronomy 24:13. Comp. upon Deuteronomy 6:25. [The directions here given are to guard the poor and unfortunate from oppression. Their homes could not be violated. The creditor must stand without and wait for the pledge to be brought. But the right to the pledge is recognized. It must be brought. And doubtless the law or custom would regulate what pledge was sufficient. Within these limits the creditor would have the right to judge.—A. G.].

9. Deuteronomy 24:14-22. The mention of the debtor leads, Deuteronomy 24:14-15, to the similarly placed laborer, but with this to the still wider and varied methods how Israel must deport itself at home. Deuteronomy 24:16-22. For עני, Deuteronomy 24:14, as Deuteronomy 24:12 (comp. Deuteronomy 15:11), and upon the added אֶבְיוֹן (comp. Deuteronomy 15:4). עָשַׁק, to cut, to defraud, comp. upon Leviticus 19:13. גֵר collectively. Deuteronomy 24:15. He was usually a day-laborer (Matthew 20:8).—Upon it, i.e. the wages which are still deferred (Ephesians 4:26). So also upon it, i.e. he raises, lifts up his desire upon that, which to each day is its fitting reward. Comp. further Deuteronomy 15:9 (James 5:4). The condition and expectation of the poor should Israel consider at home, and hence, Deuteronomy 24:16 does not confound the justice of God (Deuteronomy 5:9) with that of men, nor visit the death-penalty upon the closest kindred of the guilty, as the physical connection carried with it the punishment among the Persians and other heathen nations. על (Deuteronomy 22:6), upon, i.e., on account of. In such wretched cases Israel must regard and spare the family band, which might impel to like heathen practices (2 Kings 14:6; 2 Chronicles 25:4; Jeremiah 31:30; Ezekiel 18:20). Deuteronomy 24:17 regards the condition of the poor in its wider relation; comp. Deuteronomy 16:19; Deuteronomy 10:18-19; Deuteronomy 27:19. Upon the whole passage, comp. Exodus 22:21 sq.; Deuteronomy 23:9; Leviticus 19:33 sq. The righteousness, Deuteronomy 24:13, leads at first in Deuteronomy 24:14-15, to that which is privately right and reasonable, but then, Deuteronomy 24:16, to the public justice; so we pass in Deuteronomy 24:17 from right generally in the private relations, to the right as connected with security or pledges (Deuteronomy 24:6). In Israel right should be maintained publicly and privately, and indeed according to righteousness as it is love, or better still, grace and mercy, as man becomes acquainted with it in God (Deuteronomy 24:13, לפני יהוה), as Israel especially had already grown acquainted with it in his God. The widow, the womanly, is noticed with peculiar tenderness; her raiment may be viewed as a whole history of poverty (Deuteronomy 24:12). Upon Deuteronomy 24:18, comp. Deuteronomy 15:15; Deuteronomy 5:15; Deuteronomy 7:8. Deuteronomy 24:19-22. These verses respect the state and even expectation of the poor which they are justified in cherishing, from their position under Jehovah, the landlord of Canaan. Comp. Leviticus 19:9 sq.; Deuteronomy 23:22; Deuteronomy 14:29. The olives, when they were not entirely ripe, were beaten off with poles, and then yielded finer oil (Isaiah 17:6). Deuteronomy 24:22 as Deuteronomy 24:18. [The three-fold repetition, 19, 20, 21, of these classes who were thus partly provided for, is calculated surely to impress the care and tenderness of God over the poor, and the humanity of the laws of Moses.—A. G.]

10. Chap. 25, Deuteronomy 25:1-3. To the wretched, not habitually, but for the time, in the ideal connection of this paragraph with the foregoing, belongs also the case of one exposed to punishment. But Deuteronomy 25:1 brings out first of all the prevailing righteousness for Israel. The poor or wretched even in this reference could only be treated righteously. Comp. Exodus 23:7. צדק, to be firm, straight. Opposed to רָשַׁע, to separate, to turn aside. Whoever in any given case is righteous, the opponent is unrighteous, i.e. guilty, not however in the moral sense, but sensu forensi. Deuteronomy 25:2. לְפָנָיו, i.e. before the judge, who should observe the number and the kind of stripes, and perhaps also limit the dishonor in the case, through such a form of proceeding. Bovet, who regards the tabernacle “as the tent of justice standing in the centre of the people,” before which “the Lord of Israel cites His people,” describes the mode in which justice is pronounced and executed in Egypt to-day; the whole scene now aptly illustrating that which we may suppose to have occurred here. כדי (comp. Deuteronomy 15:8), according to the measure, with reference to the number, i.e. as many as the crime demands according to the jus talionis, Deuteronomy 25:3. Forty, i.e. 4 × 10. thus according to all the world, on all sides, a perfect measure. (“From Genesis 7:12 it is the full measure of the development of judgment.” Keil.)—Not exceed, i.e., not more than forty. Anxious not to overstep this extreme limit, the later Jews fixed the number of stripes at thirty-nine (2 Corinthians 11:24).—[And yet they did not hesitate to use the whip or scourge, instead of the stick or rod.—A. G.]—Any excess over these would be too many stripes—not so much in reference to what a man can endure, as with respect to its spiritual, humane side or aspect. In such a case there would be no limit to the arbitrary will; the sufferer, as to why he was still punished, would not be under the law, but barely under the rod; he would not be even under the protection of the law. Moreover, he would suffer loss in the eyes of his brethren, if it was not retribution nor even dishonor, but the stripes merely which were in view here. וְנִקְלָה, from קָלָה, to rub open, sweep away [Ges.: roast], e.g. by fire, hence light, to make small, despicable, so that it is not necessary to render the Niphal with Meier to be ruined.—[Bib. Com.: “The son of Israel was not to be lashed like a slave at the mercy of another. The judge was to see that the law was not over-passed.”—A. G.]

11.Deuteronomy 25:4. The treatment of a man as a brute, if we can think of such in an unlimited scourging, gives occasion for the mention of the brutes even, according to righteousness, Deuteronomy 25:4. If his wages are to be given to the hired laborer daily, so also the laboring animal should be permitted to eat of the grain which it treads out, or over which it draws the threshing-cart (Winer, Lex. I., p. 276). Comp. upon this the present usage in the East; Hengst., Moses and Egypt (1 Corinthians 9:9; 1 Timothy 5:18). Such a reference to animals makes the reference to the dead brother in the following paragraph to appear more appropriate.—[Wordsworth dwells upon the use which the Apostle makes of this passage, “not only as showing that the Levitical law has a spiritual sense, in which it is still binding upon all, but as giving us the key by which we may unlock the casket and take out of its treasures.” But this opens wide the door to a very loose and fanciful exposition. It would need great sobriety and judgment to keep at all within bounds on the principle here stated. We cannot safely argue from what the apostle did, and justify ourselves in a like course. And the Apostle seems to use the words rather as illustrative of the truth he was teaching than as assigning to them a figurative and spiritual sense.—A. G.]

12.Deuteronomy 25:5-10. The Levirate marriages. It is not the dead brother alone, but the widow also, who with him claims special notice here. In the following primitive institution there is no allusion to the “taking possession of the landed property”, Knobel, and hence, Deuteronomy 25:5, the dwelling together cannot be placed as a condition to the obligation, with Knobel, Keil [Bib. Com.], but only brings to bear from the beginning, the actual position, the local nearness of the brother-in-law as giving rise to it. It was customary to dwell together, if not in the same house, yet upon the same paternal inheritance. וּבֵן אֵין־לֹו, according to Jewish tradition, without child or grandchild, Matthew 22:24; Mark 12:19; Luke 20:28. That a son was alluded to here, and expressly in Deuteronomy 25:6, is only natural. But if the dead left behind him even a daughter, it was, according to Numbers 27:4; Numbers 36:8, sufficient. The widow was not free to marry any one belonging to a family beyond the tribe or kindred (Numbers 36:3). Comp. Genesis 19:31. יָבָם, literally, allied, related by marriage, levir (δαήρ), in the Jewish interpretation: the own brother on the father’s side, if unmarried? יָבַם, Piel, act the part of the brother-in-law. Deuteronomy 25:6. Shall succeed [Schroeder: stand up], not to the name of his own father, but to that of his dead uncle, and so be registered in the genealogical table, i.e. as is self-evident, be enrolled as his heir. Others hold that he should not only thus perpetuate the name of the dead, but that he should be literally named after him. But comp. Ruth 4:10; Ruth 4:17, for the refutation of this view.—וְלֹא־יִמָּחֶה, from מחה, to wipe off, namely, from the genealogical tables. As e.g. Ohad (Genesis 46:10; Exodus 6:15; comp. with Numbers 26:12; 1 Chronicles 4:24). Thus also it was not so much the marriage of the widow which was in question, as much more the preservation in this way of the name, and therewith the person of the dead. But while the law makes valid this custom, coming down from the time of the patriarchs (Genesis 38:8), it is still only in its prevalent form a custom, and therefore without constraint. It leaves the inclination free, permits the refusal. Deuteronomy 25:7 delivers it from pure arbitrariness, regulates its expression (comp. Deuteronomy 21:19; Numbers 16:12-14), in the way of notice, accusation, public hearing and treatment by the magistrate, Deuteronomy 25:8, at which the marriage of the brother-in-law, as also the loss to his own inheritance (Ruth 4:6), and even the perpetuation of his own name (Genesis 38:9), may find public utterance, and ordains, in case the disinclination continues, no strictly legal punishment, but permits a temporary disgrace through the act of the sister-in-law, Deuteronomy 25:9, and a permanent disgrace in the community, Deuteronomy 25:10, both of which, however, could be maintained with the custom itself, or grow feeble, if they did not fall away with it.—In the presence of the elders, i.e. publicly, and because he must submit to what follows. The loosing of the shoe from his foot by the sister-in-law—in distinction from Ruth 4:7-8, in which case it was not the own natural brother, and in which also the redemption of the inheritance was especially in view, and thus the kinsman himself could loose his own shoe—divested the unwilling brother-in-law of his rights with respect to the widow. Hupfeld: Psalms 60:8 says correctly, it was the symbol of renunciation. The reproach put upon her is compensated by the spitting in his face (Leviticus 15:8; Numbers 12:14; Job 30:10); she now contemns him on her side. The Talmud weakens it into: spit before him on the ground. Upon ענה, comp. upon Deuteronomy 21:7; Deuteronomy 19:16, and also Genesis 16:2; Genesis 30:3; Ruth 4:11. The founding and establishment of the family! Hence the reproachful title extends even to his house, and thus the occurrence becomes a lasting remembrance and reproach. But still not as Knobel, Keil, “a bare-footed abject,” since it is not as bare-footed, as without possessions, that he is infamous, but as one from whom his sister-in-law has loosed his shoe.

Deuteronomy 25:11-12, limit the interference of a woman permitted in the above custom (comp. קרב with נגשׁ, Deuteronomy 25:9); upon the other side, morality required such a limitation. Freedom, but not shamelessness, especially in regard to what the sister-in-law had precisely claimed (comp. Exodus 21:22). The attack was, moreover, dangerous to life. Hence the severe and strict penalty which the Rabbins change into a penalty corresponding to the worth of the hand. Comp. Deuteronomy 19:21; Deuteronomy 7:16.—[“It is of course to be understood that the act was wilful, and that the penalty was inflicted by the sentence of the Judges. This is the only mutilation prescribed by the law of Moses, unless we accept the retaliation prescribed as a punishment for the infliction on another of bodily injuries, Leviticus 24:19 sq.” Bib. Com.—A. G.]

13.Deuteronomy 25:13-19. How Israel should proceed according to righteousness in trade, Deuteronomy 25:13-16, and in their intercourse with others, Deuteronomy 25:17-19. Deuteronomy 25:13. בְּכִיסְךָ. As they usually had a purse at the girdle for this purpose, Micah 6:11. The repetition: stone and stone [divers weights], (Deuteronomy 25:14 : Ephah and Ephah [divers measures]), as is immediately explained, designates the diverse, the two kinds of weights, the large used in the purchase, and the small in selling (Psalms 12:2; Amos 8:5). As with the weights, so it should be also with the grain-measures (from אָפָה, to collect, gather, hold, whence: vessel). As in the purse, so in the house, i.e. neither to use, nor even to have. Deuteronomy 25:15. שָׁלֵם is unhurt, complete, whole, both all together, and each one by itself, must be just. For it concerns righteousness. Comp. Leviticus 19:36. The promise the same as in Deuteronomy 5:16 at the close of the first table. The more solemn conclusion follows in Deuteronomy 25:16; comp. Deuteronomy 28:12; Deuteronomy 22:5. The injunction passes from the particular trade, to every transaction of the kind generally. עָוֶל, to contract, distort, Arabia: to overstep the right measure. With this Deuteronomy 25:17 joins the exception, which is still however only according to the righteousness of God, and thus also forms the conclusion to this whole section. The case befel the Israelites on the way. Comp. Exodus 17:8 sq. Deuteronomy 25:18 gives the closer description of the iniquitous conduct of Amalek from the recollection of an eye-witness, who had experienced it. זָנַב, to extend, to swerve, in the Piel: to bend aside, injure, destroy the tail, the rear. This inhumanity shows already that there is no fear of God with Amalek. Comp. on the other hand Exodus 15:14; Exodus 18:1.Deuteronomy 25:19. Comp. Deuteronomy 12:10; Exodus 17:14; Deuteronomy 9:7. The execution follows in 1 Samuel 15:0.


1. Israel itself “rescued from bondage,” realizes in Deuteronomy 23:15-16, “a command to humanity” (Knobel), but a humanity which appears to be stamped with the highest ideas of human nature. As according to its original destination, it was “to be a blessing to all the families of the earth,” so it is in Christ the asylum of enslaved humanity.

2. From the Old Testament stand-point, “the conversion of the Gentiles rests in the depths of hope and desire.” Baumgarten.

3. The element of lust in the heathen religions still in Mohammedanism. The dangerous character of religious fanaticism in this aspect. The sobriety of the religion of Israel.
4. Interest must be distinguished from usury; but also the persons, whether it is the poor borrowing from necessity, or others borrowing for gain.
5. Compare L. Wiese, upon the Vow in the evangelical sense, Berlin, 1861. Mosheim [Ethics VI., p. 177) distinguishes: either to omit things which otherwise could be done innocently, or to perform something which (or binding to some kind and manner of observance) the law does not require. The purpose: gratitude, desire to devote ourselves to God, zeal in sanctification. Vows should be maturely considered beforehand. Ben. Pictet, Morale Chret. I. Book III., Chap. 16.: The vow is a solemn promise to God to do some special thing in His service, and to His honor. Thus not as to the general life, as in baptism and in prayer.

6. When Moses comes to speak of divorce, the bill of divorcement is a ספר כריתת, a record literally of the cleaving apart, cutting away, namely, one from the other, of those who together were one flesh. Thus throughout according to the idea of marriage, which is its ethical spirit and end. The writing of divorcement is likewise also something more than the mere utterance or declaration of the husband; thou art dismissed, repudiated, as occurs among other Oriental nations. It is here treated especially in the interest of the ideality of marriage, see the Exegetical Notes. “The law-giver,” Knobel remarks, “appears to have regarded divorce unfavorably (Deuteronomy 23:4), and therein to have agreed with the prophets, Malachi 2:16.” Israel is therein considered in its perfection, although the ordinance of Moses must imply the hardness of their hearts, as is truly the case (comp. Lange, Matthew 5:0 and Matthew 19:0). The negative character of the divine law has, in like manner as its pre supposition, what we are ever prone, to in our evil nature. Israel according to its nature separates the kind of his wives, but that he does so in opposition to the nature of true marriage, that appears manifoldly; and therewith “the rays of the full divine truth and revelation break through the dark veil, under which the actual life of Israel is permitted provisional room and scope.” Baumgarten.

7. As a militant church Israel must not however interfere with or prevent the inward peace and joy, Deuteronomy 24:5.

8. “Generally in the last discourses of Moses love is presented clearly as the innermost spirit of the law” (Baumgarten). A parallel: the last discourse of Jesus in the gospel by John.

9. How has the Mosaic law-giving obviated from the very first the violent measures which in Greece and Rome, from time to time, were found necessary to correct the hard and intolerable relations of the poor debtor!

10. “When Moses, who so strongly, and before all things, urges purity and holiness of heart, does not hesitate to consider the somewhat hard treatment of an animal (Deuteronomy 25:4) in the midst of the most important laws, he stands at the divine central point of the world, from which straight lines lead to all creatures.” (Baumgarten).

11. The Levirate marriage has indeed no connection with the general human “needs and desires of immortality” (Keil), although a similar custom is found among the Mongolians, Circassians, Druses, Abyssinians, and others. This necessity was not indeed distinctly felt by Israel, (hence the Sadduceean pretence, Matthew 22:24 sq.), but it is truly from Abraham on entirely included in the promise, as Christ asserts, Matthew 22:0, and indeed the promise of this life, for the Word must become flesh. Thus the custom lying at the basis of the legal regulation is an old and honored one in the chosen family. Indeed the main line of the tribe of Judah, the peculiar line of promise, Matthew 1:3 sq., springs from that forced or surreptitious marriage of Thamar (Genesis 38:0). Leyrer, Herz. Encycl., VIII. 358. Compare beside the Levirate marriage of Ruth. In Israel all is directed with reference to the name and the house, and not so much generally “to a continuous life in posterity” (Schultz). Hence beyond the law, and even those more distant than the brother are allowed to act. The Goel appears as the husband’s brother, Ruth 4:0. Hence even against the law (Leviticus 18:16), incest [Blutschande] is blood-honor; love as the fulfilling of the law. [It should be rather, that in this case and for the ends in view, to preserve the name, the house, the ordinary rules as to inter-marriage were set aside. Such a marriage was not incest.—A. G.].

12. For Amalek comp. Doct. and Eth. upon i. 6 sq. 6. What was said as to Israel at home, closes significantly with a recollection of the Edomite Amalek; for thus it is said that a man’s enemies will be those of his own house, and that Israel as the people of Jehovah must remain in the camp. Israel’s perfection is not merely secured through the promise in the future, but in the way of duty made dependent upon its development in obedience.


Deuteronomy 23:15-16. The letter of Paul to Philemon. Deuteronomy 23:18. Luther: “Thus all gains by sin are unacceptable to God; He will be honored with reverence. Berl. Bib.: “Even everything devoted in some measure to the Lord, on account of currish quarrels and bitterness among each other is also an abomination to the Lord.” Deuteronomy 23:19-20. Osiander: “If we decline a gain to please God He will in turn restore it to us in another place and way.” Deuteronomy 23:21-23. God loves a free-will service. Promises create obligation, and our acts should correspond with our words. Deuteronomy 23:24-25. Wurth. Bib.: “God gives the blessing upon our fields not for ourselves alone, but for our neighbors also.” Berl. Bib.: See the community of goods! It is all yours. But if thou takest for thyself unreasonably, with a false freedom, it applies not to thee.

Deuteronomy 24:1. Berl. Bib.: “The tying together of Samson’s foxes sets all in a flame.” Wurth. Bib.: “God often suffers that to happen in which He has no pleasure, in order to avoid greater evil and distress, Matthew 13:30.” Berl. Bib.: “Christ wills that among believers, whose disposition is not so harsh, there should be obedience to the first institution, that all opposition should be obviated by love and reasonable endurance, all crosses and sickness should be patiently borne, and the marriage state preserved in faithfulness to the end of life.” Schultz: “Lycurgus, Solon, and Numa, permit according to Plutarch a change of wives.” Comp. Isaiah 1:1. God receives back again, Jeremiah 3:1. [Wordsworth: “Here was God’s love made manifest. He invites the people generally of spiritual adultery to return to him.”—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 24:5. Osiander: “Woe to those who forbid to marry, 1 Timothy 4:3.” Berl. Bib.: “God spares young Christians heavy tests, and gives them some sweet foretastes of knowledge and consolation.” Deuteronomy 24:7. Starke: “Judas took his own life, Acts 1:18.” Berl. Bib.: “The slave trade.” Osiander: “We should learn prudence from the loss of others, rather than by our own misfortune.” Berl. Bib.: “That the whole lump may not be leavened. 1 Corinthians 5:2; 1Co 5:6; 1 Corinthians 5:13.” [Wordsworth: Deuteronomy 24:13. He who injures the poor does violence to God.—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 24:15. Baumgarten: “Thus was the master put in the place of his laborers. But such feeling is possible only through love, which alone knows how to feel for others, to feel as they feel.” Comp. James 5:4. Osiander: “He is a thief in the sight of God.” Deuteronomy 24:16. Baumgarten: “If only strict righteousness rules then no child of Adam can hope for salvation or life; thus this iron link of the natural connection must be broken, which occurs only through divine grace. (Jeremiah 31:29-30; Ezekiel 18:20).” Deuteronomy 24:17 sq. Strangers, fatherless, widows; these three classes are here four times recommended. Deuteronomy 24:19. The forgotten sheaf the sheaf of the Lord. In this point they should not have a good remembrance, but a good conscience. Osiander: “Pious generosity brings no loss.” Deuteronomy 24:22. Lange: “God reveals the grounds of His will, to convince us so much more fully of its reasonableness; thus man should not require a blind obedience.

Deuteronomy 25:1. Richter: “An image of the righteousness of God, 1 Kings 8:32.” Berl. Bib.: “The judicial office, a characteristic of God, is often made to be a characteristic of the devil.” Starke: “One may thus come before the judgment with a good conscience in case of need.” Deuteronomy 25:2, Herxheimer: “Every one was equal before the law in Israel.” Schultz: “This punishment fails in the modern idea of dignity, but not with respect to the knowledge of that worth or dignity, even in the body, grounded in the inward relation to Jehovah. The divine law requires that when a man has put off his own worth the delusive appearance of it shall be taken away also. Corporeal punishment, because of the moral earnestness and sense of truth.” Deuteronomy 25:3. The offender still a man. Schultz: “The guilt of the individual should bring to mind the guilt of all. The number forty characterizes the humiliation, the temptation, and the wandering as ordained by divine power. Comp. Genesis 7:12; the forty years in the wilderness; Deuteronomy 9:9; Deuteronomy 9:18; Leviticus 12:1 sq.; Jonah 3:4; Eze 4:6; 1 Kings 19:8; Matthew 4:2. Comp. Bahr II. 490.” Deuteronomy 25:5 sq. Baumgarten: “In the duty of mutual love and aid, the external communion first reaches its real truth and significance.” The levirate marriage has ceased among the Jews. Wurtb. Bib.: “Blood relatives should truly receive the widows and fatherless left behind, and aid them in word and deed.” Deuteronomy 25:9-10. Berl. Bib.: “Each family should be preserved by this law, that we may better recognize the Messiah, who should be born from the entirely humbled or sunken family of David.” Deuteronomy 25:11 sq. Starke: “Every immodest touch is sin.” Deuteronomy 25:13 sq. Schultz: “The most customary and daily transactions are the most important; where there is the most sin there will be the most sighs. Mammon is always a mammon of unrighteousness.” [“It is noteworthy that John the Baptist puts the like duties in the fore-front of his preaching, Luke 3:12 sq.; and that the prophets, Ezekiel 45:10-12; Amos 8:8; Micah 6:10-11, and the Psalms, insist upon these duties;” Bib. Com.—A. G.]. Richter: “1 Thess. Deuteronomy 4:6. The curse of God is the righteous penalty for such secret sins. Israel must have just balances as God in His sanctuary.” Berl. Bib.: “Not two kinds of words in thy mouth.” Baumgarten: “These manifold directions of love and indulgence, end in this sharp point, that love and indulgence may never blunt in Israel the sense for the opposition to all evil.” Schultz: “As the development of the world cannot end but in the dualism of heaven and hell, so neither the development of the law, without this dualism of love and hatred.”


[5][Deuteronomy 23:15. Literally: Thou shalt not shut.—A. G.].

[6][Deuteronomy 23:17. Margin: Sodomites. Literally: sanctified, or a holy one. Words expressive of consecration were applied by the heathen to designate those sunken in peculiar sins.—A. G.].

[7][Deuteronomy 23:19. The Hebrew word is expressive from the root, to bite, as if any interest was biting or oppressive.—A. G.].

[8][Deuteronomy 24:1. Literally: and he shall give unto her a roll, writing, of cutting off. The accents in the original do not justify the colon in this verse; and the construction requires that the periods at the end of Deuteronomy 23:1-2 should be removed.— A. G.].

[9][Deuteronomy 24:5. Margin: more literally: not any thing shall paes upon him.—A. G.].

[10][Deuteronomy 24:6. Hebrew: the chariot or rider.—A. G.].

[11][Deuteronomy 24:10. Margin: lend the loan of anything.—A. G.].

[12][Deuteronomy 24:10. To pledge his pledge. Schroeder: that he may pledge his pledge.—A. G.].

[13][Deuteronomy 24:20. Margin: Thou shalt not bough it after thee.—A. G.].

[14][Deuteronomy 25:5. The margin: next kinsman is not so literal as the text. It is rather an interpretation than a reading.—A. G.].

[15][Deuteronomy 25:7. The text is to be preferred to the margin.—A. G.].

[16][Deuteronomy 25:15. Literally: a full stone and righteousness shall be to thee, a fall ephah and righteousness shall be to thee. So Schroeder.—A. G.].

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 25". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/deuteronomy-25.html. 1857-84.
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