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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Deuteronomy 23

 

 

Verse 1-2

Deuteronomy 23:1-2. He that is wounded — It is generally agreed that Moses is here speaking of eunuchs. Shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord — The meaning is, not that they should be debarred from the public worship of the true God, as the phrase sometimes signifies, for that privilege was granted to all nations indiscriminately, provided they renounced idolatry, Exodus 12:48; Leviticus 22:18; Numbers 9:14. But the sense seems to be, that such a one should not be deemed an Israelite, nor have his name entered in the public register; and especially that he should not be admitted to honours or offices, either in the church or commonwealth of Israel, or be allowed to be one of the society of elders, or rulers of the people, or to sit in council with them. The same privilege was denied to those here termed bastards, under which name the Jews comprehended not only those begotten in simple fornication, but also the offspring of all such incestuous marriages, as are prohibited Leviticus 18. One chief reason of this law, no doubt, was, to deter people from such unlawful connections as would both offend God, and leave an indelible blot upon their posterity.


Verse 3

Deuteronomy 23:3. An Ammonite or a Moabite — The Jews will have it, that the women of these two nations were not concerned in this law. And that though an Israelitish woman might not marry an Ammonite or Moabite, yet a man of Israel might marry one of their women, after she professed the Jewish religion. For ever — This seems to denote the perpetuity of this law, that it should be inviolably observed in all succeeding ages.


Verse 4

Deuteronomy 23:4. They met you not with bread and water — That is, meat and drink; as the manner of those times and countries was, with respect to strangers and travellers, which was the more necessary because there were no public-houses of entertainment. Their fault, then, was unmercifulness to strangers and afflicted persons, which was aggravated both by their relation to the Israelites, as being the children of Lot, and by the special kindness of God and of the Israelites to them, in not fighting against them. Because they hired against thee Balaam — As the foregoing passage peculiarly refers to the Ammonites, so this doth to the Moabites, Numbers 22:5-7.


Verse 6

Deuteronomy 23:6. Thou shalt not seek their peace — That is, make no contracts, either by marriages, or leagues, or commerce with them; but rather constantly keep a jealous eye over them, as enemies who will watch every opportunity to insnare or disturb thee. This counsel was now the more necessary, because a great part of the Israelites lived beyond Jordan in the borders of those people, and therefore God sets up this wall of partition between them, as well knowing the mischief caused by bad neighbours, and Israel’s proneness to receive infection from them. Individual Israelites were not hereby forbidden to perform any office of humanity to them, but the body of the nation are forbidden all familiar conversation with them.


Verse 7-8

Deuteronomy 23:7-8. Thou wast a stranger — And didst receive habitation, protection, and provision from them a long time, which kindness thou must not forget for their following persecution. It is ordinary with men that one injury blots out the remembrance of twenty favours. But God doth not deal so with us, nor will he have us to deal so with others, but commands us to forget injuries, and to remember kindnesses. In the third generation — When they had been proselytes to the true religion for three generations, they might be incorporated with the Jewish community. And, according to the Hebrew masters, the grand-children are the third generation.


Verse 9

Deuteronomy 23:9. Keep from every wicked thing — Then especially take heed, because that is a time of confusion and licentiousness; when the laws of God and man cannot be heard for the noise of arms; because the success of thy arms depends upon God’s blessing, which wicked men have no reason to expect; and because thou dost carry thy life in thy hand, and therefore hast need to be well prepared for death and judgment.


Verse 13

Deuteronomy 23:13. Cover — To prevent the annoyance of ourselves or others; to preserve and exercise modesty; and principally that by such outward rites they might be inured to the greater reverence of the Divine Majesty, and the greater caution to avoid all real and moral uncleanness.


Verse 15-16

Deuteronomy 23:15-16. The servant which is escaped from his master — It seems, from the connection, that this has a particular relation to times of war, when heathen soldiers or servants might desert and come over to the Israelites with intent to turn proselytes to the true religion. In which case, they were neither to send them back, and expose them to the severity of their heathen masters, nor use them hardly themselves, but permit them to live peaceably, and with full enjoyment of all the liberties and privileges of a proselyte in Israel, Leviticus 19:33; Leviticus 19:35. It may be understood, likewise, of such foreign servants as, upon inquiry, appeared to be unjustly oppressed by their masters. For it is not strange if the great God, who hates all tyranny, and styles himself the refuge of the oppressed, should interpose his authority to rescue such persons from their cruel masters. He shall dwell with thee in the place which he shall choose — This shows plainly that the passage is not to be understood of the servants of the Israelites their brethren, but of aliens and strangers; he is said to be escaped, and to be allowed to dwell among them, which the servant of an Israelite was supposed to do before.


Verse 17

Deuteronomy 23:17. There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel — No common prostitute, such as were tolerated and encouraged by the Gentiles, and used even in their religious worship. Not that such practices were allowed to the strangers among them, as is evident from many passages of Scripture and reason; but that it was in a peculiar manner, and upon special reasons, forbidden to them, as being much more odious in them than in strangers. It is remarkable that the original words, which we render whore and sodomite, import a man or woman consecrated to some deity, who served their gods by prostitution.


Verse 18

Deuteronomy 23:18. The hire of a whore — It was a custom among the idolatrous nations for prostitutes to dedicate to the honour of their false gods some part of what they had earned by prostitution. In opposition to which abominable practice this law is thought to have been instituted. Or the price of a dog — It is not easy to give any satisfactory account why these two, the price of a whore, and of a dog, are associated in the same law. Thus much seems clear, (from Numbers 18:15,) that the price of a dog is not here rejected because the dog is an unclean creature. Some have thought it is because the dog was worshipped by the Egyptians; that God, to draw his people from or guard them against idolatry, casts this contempt upon that creature in refusing the price it should be sold for. But the most natural sense of the passage seems to be, to take the word dog here in a figurative sense, for the sodomite, or whoremonger, before mentioned, such persons being not improperly styled dogs, on account of their shameless incontinency and brutal manners. Accordingly, men of canine, beastly natures, are called dogs, Matthew 15:26; 2 Peter 2:22;

Revelation 22:15.


Verse 19

Deuteronomy 23:19. Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother — To an Israelite. They held their estates immediately from God, who, while he distinguished them from all other people, might have ordered, had he pleased, that they should have all things in common. But instead of that, and in token of their joint interest in the good land he had given them, he only appointed them, as there was occasion, to lend to one another without interest. This, among them, would be little or no loss to the lender, because their land was so divided, their estates so settled, and there was so little merchandise among them, that it was seldom or never they had occasion to borrow any great sums, but only for the subsistence of their families, or some uncommon emergence. But they might lend to a stranger upon usury who was supposed to live by trade, and therefore got by what he borrowed: in which case it is just the lender should share in the gain. This usury, therefore, is not oppressive; for they might not oppress a stranger.


Verses 21-23

Deuteronomy 23:21; Deuteronomy 23:23. Not slack — Not delay; because delays might make them both unable to pay it, and unwilling too. A free-will-offering — Which, though thou didst freely make, yet, being made, thou art no longer free, but obliged to perform it.


Verse 24

Deuteronomy 23:24. At thy pleasure — Which was allowed in those parts, because of the great plenty and fruitfulness of vines there.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/deuteronomy-23.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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