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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 22

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



Laws about stray cattle, Deuteronomy 22:1-3.

About thy neighbor’s ox fallen in the way, Deuteronomy 22:4.

Woman’s wearing of apparel distinct from man’s, Deuteronomy 22:5.

Of birds caught, Deuteronomy 22:6,Deuteronomy 22:7.

Of battlements for houses, Deuteronomy 22:8.

Of divers seeds sown, Deuteronomy 22:9.

Of ploughing with an ox and ass, Deuteronomy 22:10.

Of garments of divers colours, Deuteronomy 22:11.

Of fringes upon the four quarters of a garment, Deuteronomy 22:12.

The punishment of him that slandereth his wife. Deuteronomy 22:13-19.

Her punishment if the scandal be true, Deuteronomy 22:20,Deuteronomy 22:21.

The punishment of adultery, Deuteronomy 22:22-24; of rape, Deuteronomy 22:25-27; of fornication, Deuteronomy 22:28,Deuteronomy 22:29.

Against incest, Deuteronomy 22:30.

Verse 1

Thy brother; so called by communion not of religion, but of nature, as having one Father, even God, Malachi 2:10; as appears,

1. Because the same law is given about their enemy’s ox, &c., Exodus 23:4.

2. Because else the obligation of this law had been uncertain, seeing men could not ordinarily tell whether the straying ox or sheep belonged to a Jew or to a stranger.

3. Because this was a duty of common justice and charity, which the law of nature taught even heathens, and it is absurd to think that the law of God delivered to the Jews should have less charity in it than the law of nature given to the Gentiles.

Hide thyself from them, i.e. dissemble or pretend that thou dost not seen them; or neglect or pass them by as if thou hadst not seen them.

Verse 2

If thy brother be not nigh unto thee, which may make the duty more troublesome or chargeable.

If thou know him not; which implies, that if they did know the owner, they should restore it to him.

Thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, to be used like thine own cattle. Thou shalt restore it to him again, the owner, as it may be presumed, paying the charges.

Verse 3

i.e. Dissemble that thou hast found it. Or, hide it, i.e. conceal the thing lost.

Verse 4

Help him, i.e. thy brother, the owner. Compare Exodus 13:5.

Verse 5

This shall not be done ordinarily or unnecessarily, for in some cases it may be lawful, as to make an escape for one’s life. Now this is forbidden, partly for decency sake, that men might not confound, nor seem to confound, those sexes which God hath distinguished, that all appearance of evil might be avoided, such change of garments carrying a manifest umbrage or sign of softness and effeminacy in the man, of arrogance and impudency in the woman, of lightness and petulancy in both; and partly to cut off all suspicions and occasions of evil, which this practice opens a wide door unto.

Verse 7

Let the dam go; partly for the bird’s sake, which suffered enough by the loss of its young; for God would not have cruelty exercised towards the brute creatures; and partly for men’s sake, to restrain their greediness and covetousness, that they should not monopolize all to themselves, but might leave the hopes of a future seed for others.

Verse 8

A battlement, i.e. a fence or breastwork, because the roofs of their houses were made flat or plain, that men might walk on them. See Judges 16:27; 1 Samuel 9:25; 2 Samuel 11:2; Nehemiah 8:16; Matthew 10:27.

Blood, i.e. the guilt of blood, by a man’s fall from the top of thy house, through thy neglect of this necessary provision.

Verse 9

With divers seeds; either,

1. With divers kinds of seed mixed and sowed together between the rows of vines in thy vineyard; which was forbidden to be done in the field, Leviticus 19:19, and here in the vineyard. Or,

2. With any kind of seed differing from that of the vine, which would produce either herbs, or corn, or fruit-bearing trees, whose fruit might be mingled with the fruit of the vines. Now this and the two following precepts, though in themselves small and trivial, are given, according to that time and state of the church, for documents or instructions in greater matters, and particularly to commend to them simplicity and sincerity in all their carriages towards God and men, and to forbid all mixture of their inventions with God’s institutions, in doctrine or worship.

The fruit of thy seed, Heb. the fulness of thy seed, i.e. that seed when it is ripe and full. See Exodus 22:29; Numbers 18:27.

Defiled; either,

1. Naturally corrupted or marred, whilst one seed draws away the fat and nourishment of the earth from the other, and so both are starved and spoiled. Or rather,

2. Legally and morally, as being prohibited by God’s law, and thereby made unclean; as, on the contrary, things are sanctified by God’s word allowing and approving them, 1 Timothy 4:5. Heb. be sanctified, or, be as a sanctified thing, by an ellipsis of the particle as, i.e. unlawful for the owner’s use, as things sanctified were. Or, sanctifying is put for polluting, by a figure called euphemismus, which is frequent in Scripture, as when blessing is put for cursing, as Job 2:9, and in other authors, as when they use sacred for execrable.

Verse 10


1. Because the one was a clean beast, the other unclean; whereby God would teach men to avoid polluting themselves by the touch of unclean persons or things, 2 Corinthians 6:14. Or,

2. Because of their unequal strength, whereby the weaker, the ass, would be oppressed and overwrought. Or,

3. For mystical reasons, of which see on Deuteronomy 22:9; Leviticus 19:19.

Verse 12

Fringes, or laces, or strings; partly to bring the commands of God to their remembrance, as it is expressed, Numbers 15:38; and partly as a public profession of their nation and religion, whereby they might be discerned and distinguished from strangers, that so they might be more circumspect to behave themselves as became the people of God, and that they should not be ashamed to own their God and religion before all the world. Wherewith thou coverest thyself: these words are either restrictive to the upper garment, wherewith the rest were covered; or argumentative, why they should use these things, because herewith they might possibly fasten their garments, and prevent the uncovering themselves, as might easily happen, when they wore no breeches, but only loose garments.

Verse 13

Go in unto her, i.e. hath had carnal knowledge of her.

Verse 14

Of speech, Heb. of words, i.e. of discourses or defamations.

Verse 15

i.e. The linen cloth or sheet, as is expressed, Deuteronomy 22:17, which in the first congress was infected with blood, as is natural and usual. But because this is not now constant, the enemies of Scripture take occasion to quarrel with this law, as unreasonable and unjust, and such as might oppress the innocent, and hence take occasion to reject the Holy Scriptures. It were much more reasonable for these men either to expound this place metaphorically, of producing those proofs and testimonies of her virginity which should be as satisfactory as if that cloth were produced, as some of the Jews understand it; or modestly to acknowledge their own ignorance in this, as they are forced to do in many other things, and not impudently to conclude it is insoluble, because they cannot resolve it. But there is no need of such general answers, many things may be particularly said for the vindication of this law.

1. That it was necessary for that people, because of their hard-heartedness towards their wives, and their levity and desire of change of wives.

2. That either this trial, or at least the proof of her virginity, was to be taken presently after the day of marriage, and that proof was to be admitted afterwards upon occasion.

3. That this law was seldom or never put in execution, as the Jews note, and seems to be made for terror and caution to husbands and wives, as really other laws have been in like cases.

4. That that God who gave this law did by his providence govern all affairs, and rule the tongues and hearts of men, and therefore would doubtless take care so to order matters that the innocent should not suffer by this means, which he could prevent many ways.

5. That there is a great difference in times and climates. Who knows not that there are many things now by our moderns thought uncertain or false, by which by the ancient physicians were thought and affirmed to be true, and certain in their times and countries, and that many signs of diseases and other things do generally hold true in those more southerly and warmer parts of the world, which are many times deceitful in our northern and colder climates?

6. That this very way of trial of virginity hath been used not only by the Jews, but also by the Arabians and Egyptians, as is affirmed by divers learned writers, among whom yet it was more doubtful and hazardous than among the Jews, who might promise to themselves that God would guide the execution of his own law to a just and good issue.

7. That this sign, if it were uncertain in persons of riper years, yet it may be reasonably thought certain and constant in virgins of young and tender age, and that the Jews did ordinarily marry their daughters when they were about twelve or thirteen years old, as is confessed; as making haste to roll away that reproach which they thought to be in an unmarried state.

Verse 18


1. By the following mulct. Or,

2. By severe reproofs, which that word oft signifies. Or,

3. By stripes, as is expressed, Deuteronomy 25:2,Deuteronomy 25:3. Which is not strange, considering how precious a thing one’s good name is, of which he endeavoured to deprive his wife.

Verse 19

Unto the father of the damsel; because this was a reproach to his family, and to himself, because such a miscarriage of his daughter would have been ascribed to his evil education.

He may not put her away all his days; which seems to have been his design in this false accusation, and therefore that liberty of a divorce which is permitted to others, Deuteronomy 24:1, shall be denied to him.

Verse 21

Quest. Why should she die when her crime was only fornication, which was not punished in a woman with death, Exodus 22:16,Exodus 22:17?

Answ. Because there was not only fornication in this case, as Exodus 22:0, but this was accompanied with deep dissimulation and injury to her husband in the false profession of virginity, and it might be presumed that she committed this folly after she was betrothed to him, and therefore so obstinately denied it, as knowing the danger of it in that case; or God ordered it thus for the honour and custody of the matrimonial bed from all defilement, that she, who being defiled before she was married or betrothed, and therefore not punishable by death, yet if she should presume to carry her defilement into the married estate with a pretence of virginity, she should then be put to death.

Verse 22

If a man be found; if he be convicted of this fault, though not taken in the very act.

Verse 23

By this betrothing she had actually engaged herself to another man, and was in some sort his with, and therefore is sometimes so called, as Genesis 29:21; Matthew 1:20.

Verse 24

Because she cried not; and therefore is justly presumed to have consented to it.

Verse 25

The man force her; which was to be examined and determined by the consideration of all the circumstances.

Verse 26

Not an act of choice, but of force and constraint.

Verse 27

The damsel cried; which is in that case to be presumed; charity obliging us to believe the best till the contrary be manifest.

Verse 28

i.e. An unmarried man, as appears,

1. From his obligation to marry the person he abused, which it is not probable would have been imposed upon him, had he been married.

2. Because if the man had been married, this had been adultery, and so had been punished with death. Lay hold on her; which notes some kind of force or artifice, whereby she was overpowered; whereas Exodus 22:16, she was enticed, which implies consent, and therefore the man doth here receive a greater punishment, because he used hostile violence towards her, which was the greater sin.

Verse 29

Fifty shekels of silver, besides the dowry, as Philo the learned Jew notes, which is here omitted, because that was common and customary, and because it might easily be gathered out of Exodus 22:16, it being sufficient here to mention what was peculiar to this case.

She shall be his wife, to wit, if her father consent to it, which is to be supposed out of Exodus 22:16, it being not likely that the father should lose his paternal right of disposing his child when she was in some sort forced, rather than when she was enticed.

He may not put her away all his days, which others were suffered to do, Deuteronomy 24:1, and he who enticed the maid (Exodus 22:16 was not prohibited to do.

Verse 30

Shall not take to wife. So this respects the state, and the next branch speaks of the act only.

His father’s wife; his mother-in-law. See Leviticus 18:8; Leviticus 20:11; 1 Corinthians 5:1.

His father’s skirt, i.e. the skirt of the mother’s garment, i.e. the nakedness, which is here called his father’s skirt, because his father and mother were one flesh, or because his father alone had the right to uncover it. The phrase is taken from the ancient custom or ceremony of the bridegroom’s spreading the skirt of his garment over the bride, to signify his right to her, and authority over her, and his obligation to the marriage duty. See Ruth 3:9; Ezekiel 16:8.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 22". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/deuteronomy-22.html. 1685.
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