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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Deuteronomy 25

 

 

Verses 1-19

Deuteronomy 25:5. If brethren dwell together. Not in the same house, but near each other on the ancient lot of land which the family possessed; for Moses often speaks as though the people were already fixed in the promised land.

Deuteronomy 25:7. If a man like not to take his brother’s wife. With regard to loosing the shoe, the Turks in divorce, allow a woman to turn up her slipper in presence of the court, a silent intimation that her husband has separated himself from her society. The loss of the shoe was a loss of moral rank; it classed a man with the poor, who often walked barefoot.

Deuteronomy 25:11. When two men strive, having first immodestly stripped themselves naked to fight.

REFLECTIONS.

The summary way of punishing crimes not capital was wise and salutary. The offender received his punishment in presence of the magistrate. The soreness of his back would not detain him long from labour, nor would he be corrupted and made worse by long imprisonment. He usually received thirteen strokes from a leathern thong slit into three; hence the public shame would be a greater punishment than the pain of the stripes.

Compassion must extend to animals as well as men. The ox that trod a machine to thrash the corn, must not be muzzled: this would have been a crime against nature. Hence, according to St. Paul, when ministers labour hard in private studies and exercises to give food to the people, they are not to be denied the supply of their wants. If a laborious beast has claims on his master for food, ministers are not less entitled to a remuneration from the people.

We have next the injunction for a younger brother, or the next of kin, who are often called brothers in the scriptures, to marry the widow of his brother who had died without issue. This was an ancient law of the patriarchs, as appears from the case of Tamar. Genesis 38:8. It kept alive the name of his brother; it kept the families together; and preserved the lot of land entire to the same family. These were marriages of prudence, but not enforced against affection; and if God did not claim the right of doing this, no parent should assume more than God. Parents have a right to a negative; they may hinder an imprudent marriage; but to compel a child to marry against inclination, may be productive of serious consequences.

The cutting off the hand of the cruel and immodest woman, is a remarkable case in the Hebrew administration of justice. Here the judges could not follow the law of an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; but immodesty is hateful in the sight of God and man. And it surely should be the first object of female education to inspire them with delicacy, bashfulness, and all those retiring graces which are the first ornaments of the fair sex: and these are ornaments not only of inestimable value in themselves, but which every poor man may leave as a best legacy to his children.

The law of a just weight and measure is here enforced anew: a man who has recourse to those mean and sordid tricks, chiefly robs the poor, and renders his name odious to the public.

Immediately after the law of weights and measures, follows a repetition of the sentence against Amalek: the murder of the sick and feeble Israelites still cried to heaven. Exodus 17. God put that nation in his balances, and they were still found wanting. They had no repentance, no reformation, nor did they make any overtures of peace to diminish the consequences of their guilt. God had long beheld the declining balance, he had long suspended the blow; but vengeance came at last; and though slow in its approach, it was sudden and tremendous in the execution. 1 Samuel 15.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 25:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/deuteronomy-25.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, September 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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