View Deuteronomy 23 in the note window.
Who are to be excluded the congregation of rulers, ver. 1 - 6.
An Edomite and an Egyptian not to be abhorred, ver. 7, 8.
No uncleanness to be in the camp, ver. 9 - 14.
Of servants, escaped from their masters, ver. 15, 16.
Laws, against sodomy and whoredom, ver. 17, 18.
Against usury, ver. 19, 20.
Against the breach of vows, ver. 21 - 23.
The liberty which might be taken in another's field or vineyard,
ver. 24, 25.
1: He that is wounded - A phrase denoting an eunuch. Shall not
enter into the congregation of the Lord - Shall not be admitted to honours
and offices either in the church or commonwealth of Israel; and so the
congregation of the Lord doth not here signify, the body of the people,
but the society of the elders or rulers of the people. Add to this,
that the Hebrew word, Kahal, generally signifies a congregation or
company of men met together; and therefore this cannot so conveniently
be meant of all the body of the people, which could never meet in one place,
but of the chief rulers, which frequently did so. Nor is it strange that
eunuchs are excluded from government, both because such persons are commonly
observed to want that courage which is necessary for a governor, because as
such persons ordinarily were despicable, so the authority in their hands was
likely to be exposed to the same contempt.
2: The congregation - Taking the word as in the former verse.
3: For ever - This seems to note the perpetuity of this law,
that it should be inviolably observed in all succeeding ages.
4: They met you not with bread and water - As the manner of those
times was to wait and provide for strangers and travellers, which was the
more necessary, because in those times and countries, 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
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
ensnare 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 betwixt them,
as well knowing the mischief of bad neighbours, and Israel's proneness
to receive infection from them. Each particular Israelite is not
hereby forbidden to perform any office of humanity to them, but the body of
the nation are forbidden all familiar conversation with them.
7: 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 courtesies; 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.
8: In their third generation - Supposing their grandfather, or
great - grandfather turned proselyte, and the children continue in that
faith received by such ancestors.
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.
13: Cover - To prevent the annoyance of ourselves or others; to
preserve and exercise modesty and natural honesty; and principally that
by such outward rites they might be innured to the greater reverence of
the Divine Majesty, and the greater caution to avoid all real and moral
15: The servant - Of such as belonged to the Canaanites, or other
neighbouring nations, because if he had lived in remote countries, it is
not probable that he would flee so far to avoid his master, or that his
master would follow him so far to recover him. For the Canaanites this
sentence was most just, because both they and theirs were all forfeited to
God and Israel, and whatsoever they enjoyed was by special indulgence.
And for the other neighbours it may seem just also, because both masters
and servants of these and other nations are unquestionably at the disposal
of the Lord their maker and sovereign ruler. Understand it likewise of such
as upon enquiry appear to have been unjustly oppressed by their masters.
Now it is not strange if the great God, who hates all tyranny, and styles
himself the refuge of the oppressed doth interpose his authority to rescue
such persons from their cruel masters.
17: No whore - 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 scriptures and reasons, 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.
18: The hire of a whore - This is opposed to the practice of the
Gentiles, who allowed both such persons and the oblations they made out
of their infamous gains; and some of them kept lewd women, who prostituted
themselves in the temples, to the honour of their false Gods, and offered
part of their profit to them. Or the price of a dog - It seems to mean,
of a whoremonger or sodomite. Such are called dogs, (Re 22:15).
And it is not improbable they are called so here. From these God would not
accept of any offering.
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 a merchandise among them, that it was seldom or never
they had occasion to borrow any great sums, but only for the subsistence of
their family, 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 'tis just, the lender should share
in the gain. This usury therefore is not oppressive: for they might not
oppress a stranger.
21: Not slack - Not delay: because delays may make them both unable
to pay it, and unwilling too.
23: A free - will - offering - Which though thou didst really make,
yet being made, thou art no longer free, but obliged to perform it.
24: At thy pleasure - Which was allowed in those parts,
because of the great plenty and fruitfulness of vines there.