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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Deuteronomy 25:9

then his brother's wife shall come to him in the sight of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face; and she shall declare, `Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother's house.'

Adam Clarke Commentary

And loose his shoe - It is difficult to find the reason of these ceremonies of degradation. Perhaps the shoe was the emblem of power; and by stripping it off, deprivation of that power and authority was represented. Spitting in the face was a mark of the utmost ignominy; but the Jews, who are legitimate judges in this case, say that the spitting was not in his face, but before his face on the ground. And this is the way in which the Asiatics express their detestation of a person to the present day, as Niebuhr and other intelligent travelers assure us. It has been remarked that the prefix ב beth is seldom applied to פני peney ; but when it is it signifies as well before as in the face. See Joshua 21:44; Joshua 23:9; Esther 9:2; and Ezekiel 42:12; which texts are supposed to be proofs in point. The act of spitting, whether in or before the face, marked the strong contempt the woman felt for the man who had slighted her. And it appears that the man was ever after disgraced in Israel; for so much is certainly implied in the saying, Deuteronomy 25:10; : And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 25:9". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/deuteronomy-25.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Then shall his brother's wife come unto him in the presence of the elders,.... The time and place being appointed the evening before by three Rabbins, and two witnesses, as Leo of Modena saysF16Ut supra, sect. 4. (Leo Modena's Hostory of Rites, &c. l. 1. sect. 4.) ; of which she was apprized, and ordered to come tasting:

and loose his shoe from off his foot; his right foot, which was thus done;"they bring him a leather shoe, which has a heel, but not sewed with linen (linen thread), and he puts it on the right foot, and binds the latchet on his foot, and stands, he and she, in the court; he fixes his foot on the ground, and she sits and stretches out her hand in the court, and looses the latchet of his shoe from off his foot, and pulls off his shoe, and casts it to the groundF17Maimon. ut supra, (Yebum Vechalitzab, c. 4.) sect. 6. :'this he suffered to be done to show that he gave up his right to her; and he was so used by way of reproach, to signify that he deserved not to be reckoned among freemen, but among servants and slaves, that went barefooted, having no shoes on: and in the mystical sense of it, as Ainsworth observes, it spiritually signified, that such as would not beget children unto Christ (or preach his Gospel for that purpose), it should be declared of them that their feet are not shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Christ, Ephesians 6:15,

and spit in his face; in a way of contempt, as a token of shame and disgrace; but the Jewish writers generally interpret this in a softer manner, as if it was not in his face, but in his presence, upon the floor, and seen by the judgesF18Ibid. sect. 7. Targum & Jarchi in loc. :

and shall answer and say, so shall it be done unto the man that will not build up his brother's house; that is, in this contemptuous and shameful manner shall he be used.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 25:9". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/deuteronomy-25.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Then shall his brother's wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother's house.

Loose his shoe — As a sign of his resignation of all his right to the woman, and to her husband's inheritance: for as the shoe was a sign of one's power and right, Psalm 60:8; 108:9, so the parting with the shoe was a token of the alienation of such right; and as a note of infamy, to signify that by this disingenuous action he was unworthy to be amongst free-men, and fit to be reduced to the condition of the meanest servants, who used to go barefoot, Isaiah 20:2,4.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 25:9". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/deuteronomy-25.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Deuteronomy 25:9 Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house.

Ver. 9. And loose his shoe.] To show that he was worthy to go barefoot, and had no right howsoever to tread upon that ground, as any part of his estate. See Ruth 4:7. The Turks have a ceremony somewhat like this; (a) the woman may sue a divorce, when her husband would abuse her against nature: which she doth by taking off his or her shoe before the judge, and holding it the sole upward, but speaking nothing, for the uncleanness of the fact.

And spit in his face.] As unworthy to show his face amongst his brethren. See Numbers 12:14, Isaiah 50:6.

That will not build up his brother’s house.] {See Trapp on "Exodus 1:21"}


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 25:9". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/deuteronomy-25.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Loose his shoe; partly as a sign of his resignation of all his right to the woman, and to her husband’s inheritance; for as the shoe was a sign of one’s power and right, Psalms 60:8 108:9; so the parting with the shoe was a token of the alienation of such right, and that he would not, and henceforth might not, enter upon his brother’s land; and partly as a note of infamy, to signify that by this unnatural and disingenuous action he was unworthy to be amongst free-men, and fit to be reduced to the condition of the meanest servants or captives, who used to go barefoot, Isaiah 20:2,4.

Spit in his face, as a return of his contempt upon himself. See Numbers 12:14 Isaiah 1:6 Matthew 26:67 27:30. This was not done, Rth 4, either because he was not a brother, but a remoter kinsman, and so deserved less shame; or because Ruth did not prosecute him to the utmost, but freely consented to this exchange.

Build up; a phrase oft used for the procreation of children, and the increase of a family. See Genesis 16:2 Exodus 1:21 1 Kings 11:38 1 Chronicles 17:25.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 25:9". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/deuteronomy-25.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

9. Loose his shoe from off his foot — Loosing the shoe and handing it to another denoted the transfer of a right. It arose from the custom of a person’s standing upon a piece of land he had bought when he took formal possession of it.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 25:9". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/deuteronomy-25.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

In his face, or presence, upon the ground, as appears from the Gemarra of Jerusalem, where we read this form: (Haydock) "In our presence, (the three judges are specified) N, widow of N, hath taken off the shoe of N, son of N. She brought him before us, and took off the shoe from his right foot, and spat in our presence, so that we saw her spittle upon the ground; and she said to him, So shall he be treated who will not establish the house of his brother." Before this ceremony took place, the widow was obliged to wait three months, to prove that she was not in a state of pregnancy; for if she were, the brother could not marry her. He was never obliged to do it, but if he refused he was deemed infamous. The taking off the shoe was intended to humble him, as well as to shew that he relinquished all his claim to the inheritance. Josephus ([Antiquities?] v. 11) says, that Ruth gave the relation, who would not marry her, a slap on the face, or rather, as it ought to be printed, "she spat in his face," which was a mark of the greatest ignominy, chap. xii. 14., Isaias l. 6., and Matthew xxvi. 67. (Calmet)


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 25:9". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/deuteronomy-25.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

in the presence, &c., Ruth 4:11.

loose his shoe. Compare Ruth 4:7, Ruth 4:8.

shoe = sandal.


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 25:9". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/deuteronomy-25.html. 1909-1922.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Then shall his brother's wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother's house.
loose his shoe
Pulling off the shoe seems to express his being degraded to the situation of slaves, who generally went barefoot; and spitting in or rather before, (biphney) his face, was a mark of the utmost ignominy.
Ruth 4:7,8; Isaiah 20:2; Mark 1:7; John 1:27
spit
Numbers 12:14; Job 30:10; Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 26:67; 27:30; Mark 10:34
So shall
Genesis 38:8-10; Ruth 4:10,11; 1 Samuel 2:30

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 25:9". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/deuteronomy-25.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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