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Bible Commentaries

James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary
Deuteronomy 23

 

 

Verses 1-19

MORE REGULATIONS

PUBLIC PRIVILEGES (Deuteronomy 23:1-9)

The privileges referred to here are doubtless honors in the state and perhaps, in the case of foreigners, incorporation with Israel by marriage. Eunuchs and bastards were denied these privileges (Deuteronomy 23:1-2), and also members of what Gentile nations (Deuteronomy 23:3)? What caused the latter prohibition (Deuteronomy 23:4-6)? Such passages as Nehemiah 13:1; Ruth 4:10; and 2 Kings 10:2 show that there were some exceptions to this prohibition, although it may be that it excluded males, but not females.

What other two nations were exempt from this rule, and on what grounds (Deuteronomy 23:7-8)?

BODILY UNCLEANNESS AND OTHER DETAILS (Deuteronomy 23:10-25)

Deuteronomy 23:13 should be translated as in the Revised Version, “thou shalt have a paddle [or shovel] among they weapons,” which explains the meaning of the direction. Think of it in the light of the following verse, and remember the words of Wesley, that “cleanliness is next to godliness.” There is a sense indeed, in which it is godliness, and the man who honors his Creator and Redeemer will see to it that himself and his surroundings are ever in a wholesome and sanitary condition. These directions have reference to camp life when engaged in war (Deuteronomy 23:9), but how much more obligatory in ordinary living.

Deuteronomy 23:15-16 refer to slaves who run away from tyrannical masters, or for deliverance from heathenism, and they afforded a ground for the action of Northern abolitionists who aided runaway slaves prior to our civil war.

As to Deuteronomy 23:19-20, the Israelites lived in a simple state of society, and were encouraged to lend to each other without hope of gain. But the case was different with foreigners, who, engaged in trade and commerce, borrowed to enlarge their capital, and might reasonably be expected to pay interest on loans. Besides, the distinction was conducive to keeping the Israelites separate from the rest of the world.

MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE (Deuteronomy 24:1-5)

Divorce seems to have become known to the Hebrews in Egypt, and was tolerated by the Mosaic laws for the reason indicated in Matthew 19:3-9. But it was restricted by two conditions. What was the first (Deuteronomy 24:1)? And the second (Deuteronomy 24:4)? Because of increasing laxity in these matters today, we ought to familiarize ourselves with these two passages of Scripture, and especially the words of Christ.

CONSIDERATION FOR THE POOR (Deuteronomy 24:6-22)

Why was a creditor not at liberty to take either the mill (RV), or the upper millstone as a pledge for debt (Deuteronomy 24:6)? Corn was ground every morning for that day’s consumption, and if either were taken it would be depriving a man of his necessary provision.

According to Deuteronomy 24:10-11, how were a borrower’s feelings to be considered? Deuteronomy 24:12-13 are explained by the fact that the cloak of a poor man was commonly all the covering he had to wrap himself in when he retired for the night.

What beneficent provision for the poor is made in Deuteronomy 24:19-22, and why?

JUSTICE IN LAW AND IN TRADE (Deuteronomy 25)

The bastinado was common to Egypt, but God through Moses here introduces two important restrictions (Deuteronomy 25:1-3):

First, the punishment should be inflicted in presence of the judge, instead of in private by some heartless official.

Second, the maximum amount should be forty stripes, instead of the arbitrary will of the magistrate. The Egyptian, like Turkish and Chinese rulers, often applied the stick till they caused death or lameness for life. In later times, when the Jews were exceedingly scrupulous in adhering to the letter of the law, and, for fear of miscalculation, were desirous of keeping within the prescribed limit, the scourge was formed of three cords, terminating in leathern thongs, and thirteen strokes of this counted thirty- nine (2 Corinthians 11:24).

The usage concerning a childless widow existed before this time (Genesis 38), but the law now made it obligatory on younger brothers or the nearest kinsman to marry the widow (Ruth 4:4; Matthew 22:25). This not only perpetuated the name but also preserved the property in the family and tribe.

The reference to Amalek’s deed (Deuteronomy 25:17-19) is not mentioned in Exodus 17, where the battle is recorded, but as it was a daring defiance of God, this command against them went forth. (See 1 Samuel 15.)

THE LAWS OF TITHING (Deuteronomy 26)

The regulations here, like most of the foregoing, were for observance, not in the wilderness, but in Canaan after they should enter it (Deuteronomy 26:1). What were they then to do? Where were they to go (Deuteronomy 26:2)? What were they to say (Deuteronomy 26:3)? After the priest’s acceptance of the basket and its contents, what was the next feature in this ritual (Deuteronomy 26:5-10)? In what spirit should this be done (Deuteronomy 26:11)?

This is not so much a question of tithing, (giving one-tenth) as a general acknowledgment that all belongs to God, represented by the basket of first fruits and the confession and thanksgiving.

The actual tithing is referred to in the verses following (Deuteronomy 26:12-15). There were really two tithings. The first was appropriated to the Levites (Numbers 18:21); and the second, the tenth of what remained, was brought to Jerusalem, in kind or in money value. In the latter case, the money was used to purchase materials for the offerings and their thanksgiving feast (Deuteronomy 14:22-23). This was done for two years together, but on the third year (Deuteronomy 14:28-29) the thanksgiving was to be eaten at home and distribution to be made among the poor.

QUESTIONS

1. Name the six leading subjects of this lesson.

2. What two restrictions on divorce are given?

3. How would you explain 24:12-13?

4. What light can you throw on 2 Corinthians 11:24?

5. Who should marry a childless widow, and why?

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:4". The James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jgc/deuteronomy-23.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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