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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 22

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Deuteronomy 22:0


Miscellaneous Laws (Deuteronomy 21:22-12)Miscellaneous Laws (Deuteronomy 21:1-14)Various Laws (Deuteronomy 21:22-12)Various Rulings (Deuteronomy 21:22-12)
Deuteronomy 21:22-3
Deuteronomy 22:1-3Deuteronomy 22:1-3 Deuteronomy 22:1-2
Deuteronomy 22:3
Deuteronomy 22:4Deuteronomy 22:4Deuteronomy 22:4Deuteronomy 22:4
Deuteronomy 22:5Deuteronomy 22:5Deuteronomy 22:5Deuteronomy 22:5
Deuteronomy 22:6-7Deuteronomy 22:6-7Deuteronomy 22:6-7Deuteronomy 22:6-7
Deuteronomy 22:8Deuteronomy 22:8Deuteronomy 22:8Deuteronomy 22:8
Deuteronomy 22:9Deuteronomy 22:9Deuteronomy 22:9Deuteronomy 22:9
Deuteronomy 22:10Deuteronomy 22:10Deuteronomy 22:10Deuteronomy 22:10
Deuteronomy 22:11Deuteronomy 22:11Deuteronomy 22:11Deuteronomy 22:11
Deuteronomy 22:12Deuteronomy 22:12Deuteronomy 22:12Deuteronomy 22:12
Laws of Sexual Morality Laws Concerning Sexual PurityA Young Wife's Reputation
Deuteronomy 22:13-21Deuteronomy 22:13-19Deuteronomy 22:13-14Deuteronomy 22:13-19
Deuteronomy 22:15-19
Deuteronomy 22:20-21Deuteronomy 22:20-21Deuteronomy 22:20-21
Adultery and Fornication
Deuteronomy 22:22Deuteronomy 22:22Deuteronomy 22:22Deuteronomy 22:22
Deuteronomy 22:23-24Deuteronomy 22:23-24Deuteronomy 22:23-24Deuteronomy 22:23-27
Deuteronomy 22:25-27Deuteronomy 22:25-27Deuteronomy 22:25-27
Deuteronomy 22:28-29Deuteronomy 22:28-29Deuteronomy 22:28-29Deuteronomy 22:28-1
Deuteronomy 22:30Deuteronomy 22:30Deuteronomy 22:30

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four modern translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-4

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Deuteronomy 22:1-4 1”You shall not see your countryman's ox or his sheep straying away, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly bring them back to your countryman. 2If your countryman is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall remain with you until your countryman looks for it; then you shall restore it to him. 3Thus you shall do with his donkey, and you shall do the same with his garment, and you shall do likewise with anything lost by your countryman, which he has lost and you have found. You are not allowed to neglect them. 4You shall not see your countryman's donkey or his ox fallen down on the way, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly help him to raise them up.”

Deuteronomy 22:1 “You shall not see. . .and pay no attention” Purposeful or apathetic neglect (“hide oneself,” BDB 761, KB 834, cf. Deuteronomy 22:1, Deuteronomy 22:3, Deuteronomy 22:4; Leviticus 20:4; Proverbs 28:27; Ezekiel 22:26) of a needy covenant brother's property is prohibited (cf. Deuteronomy 22:3; Exodus 23:4-5).

“bring them back” This common VERB (BDB 996, KB 1427, Hithapel) is used three times in Deuteronomy 22:1-2. Its basic meaning is “return” or “turn back.” Israel was meant to function as a caring family unit. Paragraphs like this spell out what Leviticus 19:18 means in practical, specific ways. Brothers look out for brothers!

This first usage is intensified by the use of the INFINITIVE ABSOLUTE and the IMPERFECT VERB of the same root, “you shall certainly bring them back!” This same type of intensification is used in Deuteronomy 22:4, “you shall certainly help him to raise them up” (i.e., INFINITIVE ABSOLUTE and IMPERFECT verb of BDB 877, KB 1086).

Verse 5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Deuteronomy 22:5 5”A woman shall not wear man's clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman's clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.”

Deuteronomy 22:5 This verse has been proofed-texted to dictate appropriate dress for modern worship (i.e., women cannot wear slacks to church). It must be remembered that both male and female wore robes in the ancient Near East. The only difference being that women's robes in Israel had blue decoration around the shoulders.

The basic thrust of this text is not patriarchal, but the rejection of Canaanite worship practices (i.e., “abomination,” cf. Leviticus 18:26, Leviticus 18:27, Leviticus 18:29, Leviticus 18:30). There is to be a appropriate distinction between the God-given difference between males and females (i.e., the created order). This is not meant to be a negative, restricting distinction, but an affirmation of the different strengths and cultural functions of the sexes!

It is surely possible that this text is connected to the Mosaic covenant's condemnation of homosexuality (cf. Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13) practiced in worship settings by the Canaanites.

Verses 6-7

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Deuteronomy 22:6-7 6”If you happen to come upon a bird's nest along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; 7you shall certainly let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, in order that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days.”

Deuteronomy 22:6-7 These verses seen to relate to the preservation of food sources through many generations of Israelites. After Genesis 3:0 humanity could eat meat, but they must guard against the destruction of the source of the meat for the benefit of future generations of covenant brothers (i.e., “that you may prolong your days,” cf. Deuteronomy 4:40). Wild animals were God's gift of protein for His people. Many of these specific detailed regulations were meant to cause Israelites to think about their covenant responsibility to love, protect, and provide for the health and growth of the covenant people.

Deuteronomy 22:7 “you shall certainly let the mother go” The same type of emphasis found in Deuteronomy 22:1 and 4 (i.e., INFINITIVE ABSOLUTE and IMPERFECT VERB of the same root, BDB 1018, KB 1511) is repeated.

Verse 8

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Deuteronomy 22:8 8”When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, so that you will not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone falls from it.”

Deuteronomy 22:8 “parapet for your roof” A parapet (BDB 785, which in Arabic means “hinder”) was a protective barrier around the top of flat-roofed homes to keep people from falling. Again Israel was to think about how to protect covenant brothers, sisters, and family members!

Verse 9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Deuteronomy 22:9 9”You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, or all the produce of the seed which you have sown and the increase of the vineyard will become defiled.”

Deuteronomy 22:9 “You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed” This apparently does not specifically refer to the types of grapevines in a field, but it is assumed the principle would dictate only one type per vineyard. This refers to the seasonal crops sowed between the grapevines.

This may reflect (1) a Canaanite practice to appease the gods or (2) the mentality that mixing things causes the loss of purity (cf. Leviticus 19:19).

“defiled” Kadosh (BDB 872, KB 1073, Qal imperfect) means set apart for God (cf. Deuteronomy 15:19). This could mean (1) it had to be destroyed or (2) given to the priests. Does this principle apply today? I would assert that OT laws must be repeated in the NT to be binding on New Covenant believers (cf. Acts 15:0; Acts 1:0 Corinthians 8-10; Galatians 3:0). Jesus, Himself negated both the sacrificial system and the food laws (cf. Mark 7:17-23). See the whole structure of the NT book of Hebrews (i.e., the superiority of the NT over the OT). Two books that have helped me think through the issue are:

1. How To Read the Bible For All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Doug Stuart

2. Gospel and Spirit by Gordon Fee

Verse 10

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Deuteronomy 22:10 10”You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.”

Deuteronomy 22:10 “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey” Oxen were clean, donkeys were unclean, but this prohibition, so said the rabbis, was done as a humanitarian gesture to animals of different strengths and characteristics. However, in context, it is just one more example of “do not mix things!”

Verse 11

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Deuteronomy 22:11 11”You shall not wear a material mixed of wool and linen together.”

Deuteronomy 22:11 “You shall not wear a material mixed” This is another exclusion of mixed things (cf. Leviticus 19:19). It may have been a metaphor of mixing YHWHistic and Canaanite worship practices. Some even see it (1) connected to magic clothes (i.e., patterns of mixed materials) or (2) the Dead Sea Scrolls (i.e., 4QMMT) mentions that only certain types of clothing could be mixed (i.e., priestly garments were made from wool and linen, which would denote a sacred sense. Maybe that is why unsanctioned mixing was considered “defiled.”

Verse 12

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Deuteronomy 22:12 12”You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself.”

Deuteronomy 22:12 In this context this probably continues the rejection of anything Canaanite. Israel was to have different worship, different God, different dress! In Num. 15:37-42 these tassels have the added meaning of reminding the Israelites to keep and cherish the law. This same type of symbolism is reflected in the tallith (prayer shawl) of Jesus' day. The garment referred to was a rectangular cloth used to cover the upper part of the person, especially during worship, prayer, and reading Scripture. It is unsure if the tassels were also required (or allowed) on women's clothing. This may be another item related to cross-dressing (cf. Deuteronomy 22:5).

Verses 13-19

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Deuteronomy 22:13-19 13”If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then turns against her, 14and charges her with shameful deeds and publicly defames her, and says, 'I took this woman, but when I came near her, I did not find her a virgin,' 15then the girl's father and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of the girl's virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. 16The girl's father shall say to the elders, 'I gave my daughter to this man for a wife, but he turned against her; 17and behold, he has charged her with shameful deeds, saying, “I did not find your daughter a virgin.” But this is the evidence of my daughter's virginity.' And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city. 18So the elders of that city shall take the man and chastise him, 19and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give it to the girl's father, because he publicly defamed a virgin of Israel. And she shall remain his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days.”

Deuteronomy 22:13 “goes in to her” This is one of three euphemisms for sexual intercourse used in this context:

1. “goes in to her,” Deuteronomy 22:13 (BDB 97)

2. “when I came near her,” Deuteronomy 22:14 (BDB 897)

3. “lying with,” Deuteronomy 22:22, Deuteronomy 22:23, Deuteronomy 22:25, Deuteronomy 22:28, Deuteronomy 22:29 (BDB 1011)

“turns against her” This is the Hebrew word “hates” (BDB 971, KB 1338). It is the same word used in Deuteronomy 21:15, which is translated “unloved” and is a Hebrew idiom of comparison, which is the concept of “loved more,” “preferred.” However, here it takes on the meaning of “rejects” or “is not happy with.”

Deuteronomy 22:14

NASB, NJB“publicly defames her” NKJV, REB“brings a bad name on her” NRSV“slandering her” TEV“makes up false charges against her”

Literally this is “brings upon her an evil name” (VERB - BDB 422, KB 425, Hiphil PERFECT and NOUN - BDB 1027, and ADJECTIVE - BDB 948). This is similar to Deuteronomy 24:1-4, where a certificate of divorce is issued for “some indecency,” which is assumed to be sexual in nature. The accused woman has little or no recourse for the loss of her (and her family's) reputation. Her future marriage opportunities and the inheritance of her child (if one is conceived early) is at stake. This was a very serious issue to Near Eastern people!

“I did not find her a virgin” The Hebrew society put a premium on virginity (cf. Deuteronomy 22:19). Inheritance was a very important issue and promiscuity was aggressively condemned!

The VERB “find” (BDB 592, KB 619) is used several times in this context:

1. to find, to discover

a. legally, Deuteronomy 22:14, Deuteronomy 22:17, Deuteronomy 22:20

b. physically, Deuteronomy 22:23, Deuteronomy 22:27, Deuteronomy 22:28

2. to catch in an act, Deuteronomy 22:22, Deuteronomy 22:23

Deuteronomy 22:15 “the girl's father and mother shall take and bring out the evidence” This is either (1) the Deuteronomy concept of mutuality of the raising up of women to be included in the Law or (2) two witnesses being required.

“the evidence of the girl's virginity” This can refer to:

1. the parents broke the hymen before they gave their daughter to be married and kept the issue of fluids on a garment

2. the bed covering at the time of the initial consummation of the marriage was given to and kept by the parents

3. evidence that the girl was regularly menstruating before the wedding to prove that she was not pregnant

Number 2 seems to be ruled out because the husband would not have known for sure when this was done.

“elders of the city at the gate” This would refer to the appointed judges who held court at the city gate or at a designated place (i.e., large tree, unique landmark, or main road).

Deuteronomy 22:18 “shall take the man and chastise him” This may mean to beat the man with forty stripes (cf. Deuteronomy 25:2-3), but if so it is the only usage of this term (BDB 415, KB 418) in the OT where it usually refers to instruction (cf. Deuteronomy 21:18, NIDOTTE, vol. 2, pp. 479-481).

Deuteronomy 22:19 “fine him” The man was to be punished and fined because he had defamed (literally, “brought an evil name”) a virgin of Israel. The fine was apparently double what he paid (dowry) for the girl as a bride (cf. Deuteronomy 22:29). The implication may be that he simply wanted to get his money back from the girl's father.

“a virgin of Israel” This was an honorific (but expected) descriptive title of all brides-to-be in God's theocracy.

Deuteronomy 22:19, Deuteronomy 22:29 “she shall remain his wife; he cannot divorce her all his day” This was a limit on the man's rights. Women in Israel had no right to divorce. This rule was protecting the woman's children's rights to inheritance (cf. Deuteronomy 21:15-17).

Verses 20-21

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Deuteronomy 22:20-21 20”But if this charge is true, that the girl was not found a virgin, 21then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father's house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you.

Deuteronomy 22:20, Deuteronomy 22:21 Normally, stoning was done outside the gate of the city. See Special Topic: THE DEATH PENALTY IN ISRAEL. Because of the Hebrew concept of corporality, the father was responsible for his daughter's actions and, therefore, the punishment occurred at his door!

The penalty for a false witness was usually death. A clear double standard is seen here where, if the husband's accusation is true the girl is stoned, but if it is false (even malicious) he is chastened and fined, but not stoned (cf. Deuteronomy 19:19). Women did not have the same legal rights and protection as males in the OT. Compassion is shown, but not rights!

Deuteronomy 22:21 “an act of folly” This term (BDB 615) is used of inappropriate sexual activity:

Deuteronomy 22:1. Genesis 34:7 (non-Israelite forces himself on Jacob's daughter)

Deuteronomy 22:2. Deuteronomy 22:21 (loss of virginity)

Deuteronomy 22:3. Judges 19:23; Judges 20:6, Judges 20:10 (pagans attack a Levite's concubine)

4. 2 Samuel 13:12-13 (Amnon, David's first son, rapes his half-sister)

“playing the harlot” This term is the Qal INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT of a term (BDB 275, KB 275), which denoted inappropriate sexual activity involving fornication (sex before marriage), adultery (sex after marriage with someone other then your spouse), and prostitution (sex for hire).

Verse 22

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Deuteronomy 22:22 22”If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.”

Deuteronomy 22:22 “If a man is found lying with a married woman” Even if there is suspicion there is recourse (cf. Numbers 5:11-31).

The phrase “a married woman” is literally “the wife of another man,” which is a double use of the term b'l (BDB 127, KB 142, Qal PASSIVE PARTICIPLE and NOMINATIVE MASCULINE SINGULAR NOUN form). This term, normally translated “lord” or “husband,” has the same root as Ba'al, the male Canaanite fertility god. The husband was “lord” over his home. His wife and children were, in a legal sense, property. In actuality sexual violations were seen as a sin against God (cf. Genesis 39:9; 2 Samuel 12:13). It violates the God-given order and stability of society and affects the God-given inheritance of families and clans.

“both of them shall die” The later rabbis interpreted this to mean the child, too, if the woman was pregnant, because of the idea of corporate sin. Notice the equality of the punishment, which is unusual in the OT.

Verses 23-24

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Deuteronomy 22:23-24 23”If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, 24then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor's wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.”

Deuteronomy 22:23 “engaged” In Israel being engaged (BDB 76, KB 91) was as legally binding as being married (i.e., Joseph and Mary, cf. Matthew 1:18-19).

Deuteronomy 22:24 “you shall stone them. . .because she did not cry out in the city” Both would be stoned to death (cf. Leviticus 20:10); the man because he violated a neighbor's wife, the woman because she did not cry out (BDB 858, KB 1042, Qal PERFECT) for help.

“Thus you shall purge the evil from among you” See note at Deuteronomy 13:5.

Verses 25-27

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Deuteronomy 22:25-27 25”But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. 26But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death, for just as a man rises against his neighbor and murders him, so is this case. 27When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her.”

Deuteronomy 22:25-27 The legislation of Israel was meant to be fair, not just legalistic. There were innocent parties to sinful acts!

Verses 28-29

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Deuteronomy 22:28-29 28”If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, 29then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.”

Deuteronomy 22:28 “If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her” Considering the early age at which Jewish girls were usually engaged, it seems to me this might be referring to (1) child abuse or (2) the abuse of poor families. The Mosaic covenant protects the under privileged and socially powerless!

Deuteronomy 22:29 “the man... shall give to the girl's father fifty shekels. . .cannot divorce her” If a father was too poor to have his daughter engaged or the girl was mentally incapacitated and a man defiled her, then he must pay for her and marry her for life (cf. Exodus 22:16).

Verse 30

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Deuteronomy 22:30 30”A man shall not take his father's wife so that he will not uncover his father's skirt.”

Deuteronomy 22:30 “A man shall not take his father's wife” This probably means a man cannot marry his stepmother (possibly one of several wives), even if the father has died or the woman has been divorced.

“his father's skirt” This is an idiomatic way of referring to the father's marital activities (cf. Ruth 3:9; Ezekiel 16:8). To be intimate with a woman who had previously been intimate with one's father was, in a sense, a violation of the father (cf. Deuteronomy 27:20; Leviticus 18:8; Leviticus 20:11).


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. How much of this chapter would you say applies to our culture? How do you determine your decision?

2. What is the background of these laws?

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 22". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/deuteronomy-22.html. 2021.
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