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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Deuteronomy 23

 

 

Introduction

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 1-8

Deuteronomy 23:1-8. Classes to be refused admission into the religious community.

Deuteronomy 23:1. Here two, but in Leviticus 22:24 two additional methods of making eunuchs are mentioned. Such mutilations were required in Syrian and other religions, and for that reason disqualify for Yahweh's Church; but see Isaiah 56:4 f.

Deuteronomy 23:2. bastard: the offspring of an incestuous union.—the assembly of the Lord (Yahweh): P's designation of Israel as a religious community. The expression belongs almost wholly to post-exilic Judaism, whence and for other (unconvincing) reasons Bertholet dates Deuteronomy 23:1-8 in the time of Nehemiah.

Deuteronomy 23:3 f. The exclusion of Ammonites and Moabites follows from Deuteronomy 23:2 (see Genesis 19:30 f), but the only reason given here is a historical one and the history seems to contradict Deuteronomy 2:29 as regards the Moabites, though Driver denies this.

Deuteronomy 23:4 b. See Numbers 22:5 ff.

Deuteronomy 23:5. See Numbers 11:25; Numbers 24:10.

Deuteronomy 23:6. They are to do them no good, but neither are they commanded to do them harm. This verse is in conflict with the general spirit of D (see Deuteronomy 15:12-18*).—peace: better, "wellbeing." The Heb. means, "completeness, cf. "health" (derived from "whole"), nothing lacking (see Ezra 9:12, Jeremiah 29:7). Deuteronomy 23:3 f. is cited and the principle taught followed in Nehemiah 13:1 ff. (see notes in Cent.B).

Deuteronomy 23:7. brother: better "kinsman" (Deuteronomy 2:4*).

Deuteronomy 23:8. third generation: i.e. of such Edomites and Egyptians as settled in Canaan and embraced Yahwism.


Verses 9-14

Deuteronomy 23:9-14. Another Section Dealing with War (see Deuteronomy 20:1, Deuteronomy 21:10-14).—Regulations for securing the ceremonial purity of the camp (see Numbers 5:2-4 (P)). The reason stated (Deuteronomy 23:14) is that Yahweh is in the camp (cf. Deuteronomy 20:1); Schwally and others suspect that the original motive is the belief that impurity attracted evil spirits. [J. G. Frazer (Taboo and the Perils of the Soul, pp. 158f.) points out that the rules of ceremonial purity, by which the Hebrew warriors were bound, are "identical with rules observed by Maoris and Australian black-fellows on the wai-path." He connects these with the well-known dread lest anything belonging to the person should be procured by an enemy to work destruction by magic. In war the precautions are naturally more rigorous, and warriors are often taboo in the highest degree.—A. S.P.] Note the connexion here between physical cleanliness and holiness.

Deuteronomy 23:15 f. Contrast with this law demanding shelter for the runaway slave, CH, 15f., which forbids such shelter (Deuteronomy 15:12-18*).

Deuteronomy 23:17 f. harlot . . . sodomite: Heb. "a holy woman . . . a holy man" (cf. mg.). Among the Greeks and other ancient nations temple prostitutes were very numerous, as they are in modern India (see JThS, April 1913). They are often called after the Greek name hierodules (see 1 Kings 14:24, 2 Kings 23:7). [R. H. Kennett thinks they were the sacred male slaves of the temples, "temporary or permanent embodiments of the deity, possessed from time to time by his divine spirit, acting in his name and speaking with his voice." J. G. Frazer, Adonis Attis Osiris3, i. 72f.—A. S. P.]

Deuteronomy 23:18. dog: a term of contempt among Semites: but hierodules were apparently called "dogs" among the Phœnicians (see Driver and Bertholet).—hire . . . wages: many Indian temples are supported mainly from the proceeds of sacred prostitution.

Deuteronomy 23:19 f., p. 112, Exodus 22:25* (JE); Leviticus 25:36 f.* (H). That a foreigner could be charged interest is stated here only (see Cent.B on Nehemiah 5:1-5). Pledges could be taken from an Israelite (Deuteronomy 24:10-13).

Deuteronomy 23:21-23. On vows, see p. 105, 126* and Numbers 30*.

Deuteronomy 23:23. a freewill offering: see Deuteronomy 12:6*.

Deuteronomy 23:24 f. Grapes may be plucked and corn taken to be eaten on the spot, but not to be carried away in a bag (see Matthew 12:1 f., Mark 2:23 f., Luke 6:1 f.).

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/deuteronomy-23.html. 1919.

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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