Deuteronomy 23
Benson Commentary
He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.
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.

A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.
An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:
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.

Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.
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.

Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.
Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.
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.

Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land.
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.

The children that are begotten of them shall enter into the congregation of the LORD in their third generation.
When the host goeth forth against thine enemies, then keep thee from every wicked thing.
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.

If there be among you any man, that is not clean by reason of uncleanness that chanceth him by night, then shall he go abroad out of the camp, he shall not come within the camp:
But it shall be, when evening cometh on, he shall wash himself with water: and when the sun is down, he shall come into the camp again.
Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad:
And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:
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.

For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.
Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee:
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.

He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.
There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.
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.

Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God.
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.

Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:
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.

Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.
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.

But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee.
That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.
When thou comest into thy neighbour's vineyard, then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill at thine own pleasure; but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel.
Deuteronomy 23:24. At thy pleasure — Which was allowed in those parts, because of the great plenty and fruitfulness of vines there.

When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour's standing corn.
Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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