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Bible Commentaries

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Deuteronomy 23

 

 

Verses 1-25

19. The Congregation of Jehovah and Its Constitution and Holiness

CHAPTER 23

1. The constitution of the congregation of Jehovah (Deuteronomy 23:1-8)

2. The cleanness of the camp in time of war (Deuteronomy 23:9-14)

3. Concerning the escaped slave and the harlot (Deuteronomy 23:15-18)

4. Usury forbidden (Deuteronomy 23:19-20)

5. Concerning vows (Deuteronomy 23:21-23)

6. The neighbor’s vineyard and field (Deuteronomy 23:24-25)

The congregation of Israel is called in this chapter “the congregation of Jehovah.” And because it was the congregation of Jehovah, all that is unclean and which defiles had to be kept out of it. The same principle applies to the New Testament assembly, which is called the Church of God. Only those who are born again and therefore clean have a right to belong to the church.

The following interesting typical meaning of verses 1-8 is a paragraph taken from the Numerical Bible:

First, then, we have the assembly in its refusal of all discordant elements; and here the exclusion of the unsexed male is based on the need of maintaining the integrity of the creature. Mutilation was a reproach to God; and thus the whole spirit of asceticism is condemned and excluded both for Israel and for us today. The word of “bastard,” “one born of corruption,” only occurs once beside in Zechariah 9:6, is explained by the Rabbins, and received by commentators in general as meaning “one born of incest or adultery.” Typically, one corruptly born is not the mere child of nature; but rather one corruptly introduced among the people of God. “Baptismal regeneration,” as the ritualist holds it, is such a birth; and the Moabite and the Ammonite following here emphasizes this thought, though it be true that they are not distinctly reprobated for their birth, but for their enmity to the true people of God, and their employment of Balaam to curse. But even thus does the false professor, like an Ammonite or a Moabite, show his birth today. The Edomite is the simple natural man, and for him there is more hope, and the Egyptian is classed with him, though only in the third generation (dead and risen with Christ) could they enter the congregation of the Lord.

Cleanness and purity had to be preserved in Israel’s camp. They were constantly to remember “Jehovah thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp ... therefore shall thy camp be holy; that He see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.” All uncleanness and uncleanliness of the body was considered for this reason an evil thing. The Lord gave even such instructions as these, because He wanted His people to be clean and separated unto Himself. And how it behooves us to take heed to all these things. Jehovah is not alone with us, in the midst of His people, but God the Holy Spirit has made our bodies His temples. “What! Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom ye have from God, and ye are not your own? For ye were bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

And how beautiful it is that the poor, escaped slave found in the congregation of Jehovah a refuge! He was not to be oppressed. But the Israelites, who practised the abominable things of the flesh under a religious garb (verse 17) were an abomination unto the Lord.

Verses 24 and 25 prove that Jehovah is the owner of the land and He invited the hungry one to satisfy his hunger, to be His guest, so to speak. But the right of the tenant of the land was also respected. See on plucking the ears of corn (Matthew 12:1; Luke 6:1).

 


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Bibliography Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:4". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/deuteronomy-23.html. 1913-1922.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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