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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Deuteronomy 20




Deuteronomy 12-26, 28. A code of laws (Deuteronomy 1-26) followed by promises to the obedient and threats of punishment for the rest (Deuteronomy 28): see Introd., p. 231. The great Deuteronomic law of one sanctuary is taught or implied in Deuteronomy 12:1 to Deuteronomy 19:13 and hardly in any other part of Dt. This section may, therefore, represent essentially the original Deuteronomic code (see Introd.).

Verses 1-20

Deuteronomy 20. Laws to be Observed during War.—Peculiar to cf. Deuteronomy 21:10-14 (which some attach immediately to ch. 20) and Deuteronomy 23:9-14, Deuteronomy 24:5 (see remarks prefixed to Deuteronomy 19:14 ff.). The general effect of these laws is to soften the barbarities of war, though in some respects (Deuteronomy 20:13-18) they perpetuate its grossest cruelties. What were the wars which suggested these regulations?

Deuteronomy 20:1. horses, and Chariots: Deuteronomy 17:16. The Assyrians and Egyptians were rich in these, and Israel had great fear of them (Joshua 17:16, Judges 1:19). Palestine was unsuitable for both on account of its mountains; Israel is to trust in Yahweh (Hosea 14:3, Isaiah 2:7; Isaiah 31:1, Psalms 20:7; Psalms 33:16 f; Psalms 147:10).

Deuteronomy 20:2. the priest: these wars were, as those of early Islam, religious ones; cf. the phrase "to consecrate a war" (Micah 3:5). i.e. to begin it with sacrifice (pp. 99, 114). Why is the king not mentioned? Had the monarchy ceased, this war code being then, like Ezekiel 40-48, an ideal programme?

Deuteronomy 20:5-9. Men to be excused from the war.

Deuteronomy 20:10-18 reminds one of the early wars of Islam.

Deuteronomy 20:17. utterly destroy: Deuteronomy 2:34*. This drastic treatment is reserved for the Canaanites alone.

Deuteronomy 20:19. This law is infringed in 2 Kings 3:19; 2 Kings 3:25.


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 20:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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