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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 23

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary


Moses passes from regulations pertaining to the purity of the marriage relation to such as have reference to the sanctity of the congregation. He directs that certain classes of persons are not to be admitted, and certain other classes are to be received.

Verse 1


1. Cut off No doubt Moses aimed to keep the people of God free from those pernicious customs so prevalent among the Eastern nations. At an early date eunuchs were employed at the courts of the Egyptian and Assyrian kings. On the exclusion of these classes from the priesthood compare Leviticus 21:17-24.

Verse 2

2. A bastard shall not enter The Hebrew word which our translators have rendered bastard is of doubtful meaning. It occurs in only one other passage, Zechariah 9:6. The rabbins understand it to mean one born of incest or adultery.

Even to his tenth generation This is equivalent to forever.

Verses 3-6

3-6. An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter Not as such. The case of Ruth shows they might on embracing Judaism. Knobel considers that the reason for the prohibition of the text was because Ammon and Moab were begotten in incest. Here Moses gives as reasons that they had failed to meet the Israelites with hospitality, and had hired Balaam to curse them.

Verse 7

7. Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite The Edomites, descendants of Esau, twin brother of Jacob, held closer relations to Israel.

Thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian The memory of the favours shown to Jacob and his sons in Egypt may have been a reason for this command. The oppression which the nation endured in Egypt may have been ascribed to the Egyptian king.

Verses 9-14

9-14. When the host goeth forth The purity of life in the camp, when they shall be engaged in future wars, is provided for in this passage.

Verses 15-16

15, 16. The servant which is escaped The fugitive from oppression was to be received. A slave who had fled from a heathen master was not to be sent back into bondage.

Verse 17

17. Whore… sodomite The prostitution of woman was a part of the religious services of the heathen, as in the worship of Astarte. Among them men also frequently gave themselves up to unnatural lust.

Verse 18

18. Thou shalt not bring the hire The wages of prostitution were not, as among the heathen, to be devoted to religious purposes. The word rendered dog in our version is equivalent to the sodomite of the preceding verse.

Verses 19-20

19, 20. Not lend upon usury Not to a brother Israelite. Compare Exodus 22:25, and Leviticus 25:36-37. The Israelite was to exact nothing for the use of money, food, or any thing, provided it was loaned to his own countryman; but from non-Israelites he might.

Verse 21

21. When thou shalt vow Vows which were made to Jehovah must be kept, but there was no requirement to make the vows. Comp. Exodus 22:29; Numbers 30:2, and Leviticus 27:0.

Verse 24

24. Thou mayest eat It was allowable to eat grain or fruit in the field of a neighbour, but not to carry away grain from the field nor grapes from the vineyard. Compare Matthew 12:1; Luke 6:1, where we read that the disciples of Jesus plucked and ate the grain as they passed through the fields. At the present day in the East the right of a hungry person to eat fruit or grain in the field of another is recognised. See Biblical Researches, vol. ii, p. 192, and Bible Lands, 12 mo, p. 128.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/deuteronomy-23.html. 1874-1909.
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