nor discover his father's skirt; or lie with her his father had thrown his skirt over, or married; and which being the first, is mentioned here as a sample to all the rest forbidden Leviticus 18:7 or, as Bishop Patrick expresses it, is a "short memorandum", to make them careful to observe all the other laws respecting incestuous marriages and copulations there delivered.
INTRODUCTION TO Deuteronomy 23
Orders are here given to restrain certain persons from entering into the congregation of the Lord, Deuteronomy 23:1, and to take care that there be no unclean person in the camp, or any indecent thing done in it, Deuteronomy 23:9, to protect fugitive servants, and not deliver them up to their masters, Deuteronomy 23:15 not to suffer a filthy person to be among them, or any filthy thing to be brought into the house of God for a vow, Deuteronomy 23:17, then follow some laws against usury, and for the payment of vows, Deuteronomy 23:19, and the chapter is concluded with some directions how to behave in a neighbour's vineyard, or standing corn, Deuteronomy 23:24.
or that hath his privy member cut by himself or another, and is a thorough eunuch by the hands of men; for of such eunuchs that are made by men, and not born so, the law speaks; so Maimonides interprets it (f); See Gill on Matthew 19:12.
shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; which is to be understood not of the sanctuary of the Lord, or of being refused admittance into the church of God, and to join in religious rites, and partake of sacred ordinances, which all Israelites, and strangers that were proselytes, had a right unto; such might bring their offerings, keep the passover, &c. Exodus 12:48 nor of the commonwealth of Israel, as if unfit to be members of civil society; it cannot be thought that such defects should abridge them of their civil rights and privileges: but by the congregation is to be understood the elders, judges, and representatives of the people, that met together in some one place to execute judgment; see Numbers 35:12, into which such persons were not to be admitted; either because disgraceful and dishonourable, or because of the influence such defects have on their minds, they thereby becoming effeminate, irresolute, and wanting courage, as well as in opposition to the customs and usages of the Heathens, with whom it was common to admit such persons to civil offices; hence the word eunuch is sometimes used for an officer, Genesis 37:36 and elsewhere; the Jews (g) restrain this law to marriage, but unnecessarily.
(f) Hilchot lssure Biah, c. 16. sect. 8. (g) Targum Jon. in loc. Misn. Yebamot, c. 8. sect. 2, 4, 5, 6. Maimon. Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 49.
even unto his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord; which seems as if he might at the eleventh; but it is generally interpreted never, as is gathered from the following verse, and from the tenth number being an absolute and perfect one; yet according to the Jewish writers there were ways and means by which their posterity became legitimate; so they say, bastards may be purified (or legitimated), how? if one marries a servant maid, the child is a servant, who if he becomes free, (his) son is a free man (l).
(h) Targum Jon. in loc. Misn. Yebamot, c. 8. sect. 2, 4, 5, 6. Maimon. Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 49. (i) Bartenora in Misn. Kiddushin, c. 3. sect. 12. (k) Misn. Kiddushin, c. 3. sect. 12. & Misn. Yebamot, c. 4. sect. 13. Jarchi & Aben Ezra in loc. (l) Misn. Kiddushin, c. 3. sect. 13.
even to their tenth generation, shall they not enter into the congregation of the Lord for ever; that is, not only to the tenth generation, but for ever; and this law was understood as in force in Nehemiah's time, which was more than ten generations from the making of it; though now, as these nations are no more a distinct people, they suppose it is no longer binding (n).
(m) Misn. Yebamot, c. 8. sect. 3.((n) Misn. Yadaim, c. 4. sect. 4.
in the way when ye came forth out of Egypt; not as soon as they came forth from thence, for it was near forty years after; but it was while they were in the way from thence, as they were journeying to the land of Canaan, and so were travellers, and should have had kindness shown them as such; for though they needed not bread and water, God providing both for them, yet this does not excuse the inhumanity of these people: the words are to be understood by way of distribution; this charge here only belongs to the Ammonites, for it appears that the Moabites did give them bread and water for money, Deuteronomy 2:28 as what follows belongs peculiarly to the Moabites and not the Ammonites:
and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee; this the Moabites did in conjunction with the Midianites, but the Ammonites had no concern in it; see Numbers 22:7, it was not therefore because the Moabites and Ammonites were born in incest that they were forbidden entrance into the congregation of the Lord; which might have been thought to have been the reason of it, these instances following upon the former, had not these reasons been assigned.
but the Lord thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee; in the very mouth of Balaam, as the Targum of Jonathan; for when he opened his mouth and Balak expected he would have cursed Israel, and he intended it, could he have been permitted, the Lord overruled his tongue, and put such words into his mouth, that instead of cursing Israel, he blessed him; see Numbers 23:11,
because the Lord thy God loved thee; and therefore would not suffer them to be cursed; for whom the Lord loves they are blessed, and shall be so in time and to eternity.
(o) Hilchot Melachim, c. 6. sect. 6.
for he is thy brother; the Israelites and the Edomites were nearest akin to each other of all the nations; for Jacob and Esau were own brothers by father's and mother's side, yea, were twin brothers; the relation was very near:
thou shall not abhor an Egyptian; that comes to be made a proselyte also, as the same Targum; though the Israelites were so ill used by them, their lives made bitter with hard bondage, and their male infants slain by them, and they for a long time refused their liberty to depart:
because thou wast a stranger in his land: and at first received many favours and kindnesses from them, being supported and supplied with provisions during a long famine; and had one of the richest and most fruitful parts of the country assigned them to dwell in; and old favours were not to be forgotten, though they had been followed with great unkindness and cruelty.
shall enter into the congregation of the Lord in their third generation; not in the third generation from the time that this law was made, but from the time that any of them should embrace the true religion; their sons were the second generation, and their grandchildren the third; and such might be admitted into the congregation, and be reckoned as of them, both in their civil and church state, and be capable of serving even offices among them, and of marriage with them, as the Targum of Jonathan; which some of the Jews interpret of males only, for females, according to them, might be married immediately as soon as made proselytes, in which way they account for the lawfulness of Solomon's marriage of Pharaoh's daughter (p).
(p) Vid. Kimchi in 1 Reg. 3. 1. or 1 Kings 3. 1. & Misn. Yebamot, c. 8. sect. 3.
then keep thee from every wicked thing; the Targum of Jonathan adds, by way of explanation,"from strange worship, uncovering of nakedness, and from shedding innocent blood;''that is, from idolatry, uncleanness of every sort, and murder; and all other wickednesses ought to be abstained from at all times by all persons, but especially by soldiers in such a circumstance, just going to battle; since sin committed weakens natural courage, as it loads the conscience with guilt; and since victory and success, which depend upon the blessing of God on arms, cannot be reasonably expected, where vices of all sorts are indulged and abound; and especially seeing such are about to expose their lives to the utmost danger, and know not but that in a few hours they must exchange this life for another, and appear before God, the Judge of all, against whom they sin; and yet how little are these things thought of by such in common! it was the wisdom of the Jewish legislature, which was of God, to inculcate such things into the minds of their soldiers.
by reason of uncleanness that chanceth him by night; through pollution by a nocturnal flux, as the Septuagint version, or a gonorrhoea, an involuntary one, occasioned by impure thoughts and imaginations in dreams; the same case as in Leviticus 15:16.
then shall he go abroad out of the camp; out of the army, lest others should be defiled by such; they not having houses to retire to, and chambers to keep themselves in separate from others, as when at home:
he shall not come within the camp; that is, not till he has done what is prescribed him in the next verse. Jarchi says, he might not come into the camp of the Levites, and much less into the camp of God.
he shall wash himself with water; dip himself all over in water, not only wash his garments but his flesh:
and when the sun is down he shall come into the camp again; and take his place and rank in the army. Now if all this was necessary on account of ceremonial uncleanness, which as much as possible was to be avoided, how much more careful were they to be of moral uncleanness, as fornication, adultery, and all sorts of debauchery and lewdness? and yet nothing more frequent among those that are of the military order; it would be well if there was no occasion for the reproach Maimonides (q) casts upon the camps of the Heathens, among whom, no doubt, he means Christians, if not principally; when he observes that these orders were given, that this might be deeply fixed in the mind of every one, that their camp ought to be holy as the sanctuary of God, and not like the camps of the Gentiles, in which abound corruptions of all kinds, transgressions, rapines, thefts, and other sins.
(q) Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 41.
whither thou shalt go forth abroad; to do the necessities of nature, which they were to do without the camp, not in any place they thought fit and most convenient, but what was appointed for that purpose.
and it shall be, when thou shall ease thyself abroad; without the camp, in the place appointed for that use, whenever nature required such an action to be performed:
thou shall dig therewith; with, the paddle, an hole in the earth: the Essenes used, according to Josephus, to make it a foot deep with a spade or mattock, and to everyone that was newly admitted among them, a little pickaxe was given for that purpose (r):
and shalt turn back; having eased nature:
and cover that which cometh from thee; their dung, with the earth they dug out of the hole they made. This law was made to preserve modesty and decency becoming men, and not act like brute beasts, as well as cleanliness in the camp, and, the health of themselves and their fellow soldiers; and that, they might not be offensive to the smell, as well as pernicious to the health of one another; and especially for a reason that follows in Deuteronomy 23:14; so Maimonides (s) says, the intention of this law is especially cleanliness, and to avoid nastiness, filthiness, and impurities of every kind, that men might not be like the brute animals.
(r) De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 8. sect. 9. (s) Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 41.
to deliver thee, and give up thine enemies before thee: to save them from falling into the hands of their enemies, and to deliver their enemies into their hands, which depended not upon their numbers, strength, and skill, but on the Presence, providence, and power of God with them; wherefore, as the above writer (t) observes, by these actions (of purity and cleanliness) God meant to confirm the faith of those that engaged in war, that the divine Majesty dwelt among them; for which reason such orders were strictly to be observed by them:
therefore shall thy camp be holy; both in a moral and ceremonial sense:
that he see no unclean thing in thee; whether natural, moral, or ceremonial; the word here used signifies such nakedness as is forbidden to be uncovered, Leviticus 18:6. Hence Maimonides (u) applies it to whoredom; for he says,"by this phrase God meant to deter and dehort from whoredom, which is too usual and common among soldiers, as long as they are absent from their own houses; that therefore we may be delivered and abstain from those impure works, God has commanded such things to be done, which may bring to our remembrance that his glory dwells in the midst of us:"
and turn away from thee; and so they fall into the hands of their enemies, and become an easy prey to them, their God having forsaken them; and that this might not be their case, care should be taken not to offend him, and cause him to depart from them.
(t) Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 41. (u) lbid.
(w) Hilchot Abadim, c. 8. sect. 11.
in that place he shall choose, in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: he was not to be detained by the person that took him up in his own house, or be obliged to dwell in any certain place under, a restraint, but he might take up his abode in any of the cities of Israel, which would be most for his good, profit, and advantage:
thou shalt not oppress him; by words, as the Targum of Jonathan adds,"calling him a fugitive servant, or by any opprobrious name.''
nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel: by the same rule that "kedeshah" is rendered "a whore" in the preceding clause, "kadesh" should be rendered "an whoremonger" here, as in the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions; though Aben Ezra interprets it passively, one that is lain with, and Jarchi one that is prepared to lie with a male, that prostitutes his body in this unnatural way; and it looks as if there were such sort of persons sacred to idols, since we read of the houses of the sodomites, which were by, or rather in the house of the Lord, 2 Kings 23:7.
(x) Geograph. l. 8. p. 261. (y) lb. l. 12. p. 385.
or the price of a dog; not of the firstborn of a dog, the price for the redemption of it, as some; nor for the loan of a hunting dog, or a shepherd's dog for breed, as Josephus (z) interprets this law. Abarbinel understands it figuratively of a sodomite, comparable to a dog, for his uncleanness and impudence; see Revelation 22:15; and the price of such an one the gain he got by the prostitution of his body to unnatural lusts; and so as the hire of a whore answers to one in Deuteronomy 23:17, the price of a dog to a sodomite here; and in this he is followed by some, nor is it a sense to be despised; though the Jews (a) understand it literally of a dog, and of the exchange of another creature with that; so Onkelos renders it,"the exchange of a dog:''now neither of these might a man bring
into the house of the Lord thy God for any vow; that is, when a man vowed to offer any sacrifice to the Lord, it was not to be anything that was given to a whore as her hire; as, for instance, as Jarchi, if he gave her for her hire a lamb, it was not fit to be offered; which agrees with the Jewish (b) canons,"what is the hire of a whore? if one says to a whore, take this lamb for thy hire, though an hundred, they are all forbidden; and so if one says to his neighbour, lo, this lamb is thine, that thine handmaid may lie with my a servant, Rabbi says it is not the hire of a whore, but the wise men say it is.--If he gives her money, lo, this is free; wines, oils, and fine flour, and the like, that are offered on the altar, are forbidden; (but the commentators say (c), wheat, olives, and grapes, out of which fine flour, oil, and wine are made, are free;) if he gives her consecrated things, lo, these are free, birds, they are forbidden.''Now this law seems to be made in opposition to the customs and practices of the Phoenicians and Canaanites, whose land the Israelites were going to inhabit; whose women, as we are told (d), used to prostitute themselves in the temples of their idols, and dedicate there the hire of their bodies to their gods, thinking thereby to appease their deities and obtain good things for themselves; and the like did the. Babylonians and Assyrians; See Gill on Micah 1:7; so it is asked (e),"what is the price of a dog? if a man says to his neighbour, take this lamb for that dog; so if two partners divide, one takes ten (lambs), and the other nine and a dog; what is in lieu of the dog is forbidden, but those that are taken with him are free:''a whore and a dog are fitly put together, because both are libidinous, impure, and impudent; perhaps the vileness and baseness of the creature is chiefly regarded in this law, to keep up the credit and veneration of sacrifices as sacred things; and it may be in reference to the worship of this creature, as by the Egyptians, who are said to worship a dog, their god Anubis (f), the image of which had a dog's head on it; or to its being offered in sacrifice to idols, as it was by others; the Colophonians sacrificed the whelps of dogs to their goddess Enodius, as others did to Enyalius or Mars (g):
for even both these are an abomination to the Lord thy God; both the hire of the whore and the price of the dog, when brought as a sacrifice to him; the one being a breach of the moral law, and the other tending to bring into contempt the sacrifices of the ceremonial law, if not a favouring idolatry, than which nothing is more abominable to God, who cannot endure anything evil, base, and impure.
(z) Antiqu. l. 4. c. 8. sect. 9. (a) In R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 28. 2.((b) Misn. Temurah, c. 6. sect. 2, 4. (c) Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. (d) Athanasius contra Gentes, p. 21. (e) Misn. ut supra, (b)) sect. 3.((f) "Oppida tota canem venerantur", Juvenal. Satyr. 15. l. 8. "latrator Anubis", Virgil Aeneid. l. 8. prope finem. (g) Pausanias in Laconic. sive, l. 3. p. 188.
usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of anything that is lent upon usury; this takes in all sorts of usury, whether what is lent be money or food, or anything else, no interest was to be taken for it; See Gill on Leviticus 25:36; See Gill on Leviticus 25:37.
but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury; which is repeated, that it might be taken notice of, and carefully observed:
that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand unto, in the land whither thou goest to possess it; for their charity, humanity, and the kind usage of their poor brethren in distress, would not pass unnoticed by the Lord; but he would make the land they tilled fruitful, and their vineyards and oliveyards to produce abundance, and their flocks and their herds to increase greatly, which would be sufficient and more than a recompence for all that they had freely lent unto their brethren, without taking any usury of them.
thou shall not slack to pay it; or delay the payment of it, but do it immediately; since zeal and affection might abate, and there might not be hereafter an ability to perform, or death might come and prevent it; the Targum of Jonathan adds, at the three feasts, that is, of the passover, pentecost, and tabernacles; and the Jewish writers (h) say, that no man transgresses this precept respecting the delay of paying a vow, until the three feasts have passed:
for the Lord thy God will surely require it of thee; exact the payment of it, and expect it, insist upon the performance of it, and punish for neglect:
and it would be sin in thee; guilt of sin would be contracted, and punishment inflicted; Aben Ezra interprets it of the latter.
(h) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Roshhashanah, c. 1. sect. 1. & in Ediot, c. 7. sect. 4.
it shall be no sin in thee; no charge of guilt be brought or punishment laid; it should not be reckoned a crime, nor be punishable in any respect, and especially where there was a willing mind and no ability; otherwise negligence, niggardliness, and ingratitude, are not well pleasing in the sight of God.
even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the Lord thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth; be it what it will, as to the matter of it, it was to be paid, and in the manner as it was vowed and promised. Aben Ezra observes, that every vow is a freewill offering, but not every freewill offering a vow; the Targum of Jonathan enumerates the several things to be performed, sin offerings, trespass offerings, burnt offerings, and oblations of holy things, and drink offerings, and gifts of the house of the sanctuary, and alms to the poor.
then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill, at thine own pleasure; as many as they would, till nature was satisfied:
but thou shall not put any in thy vessel; to carry away, to be eaten by them or theirs at another time and place; they were to put none into their pockets or into their baskets, as the Targum of Jonathan, or whatsoever vessel they might have with them in the vineyard. Jarchi says, the Scripture speaks of a workman, and only at the time of gathering the grapes, when he was putting into his master's vessels, and might not put any into his own, and carry away; so the Jewish writers (i) generally interpret it of a workman only, and of his eating those things in which he works, and not of such as pass by the way; so the Targums: and there are many traditions in the Misnah (k) concerning this affair; as that by this law a workman might eat while in his work, as the ox may while it is treading out the corn, and when his work is perfect; and that he may eat of what he is employed about; only if he is at work upon figs, he may not eat of grapes, and if on grapes, he may not eat of figs; nor might he eat more than his hire came to; and that he might make a covenant for his son and daughter, servant and handmaid, adult (that they shall take money and not eat), and for his wife, because they are endowed with knowledge; but not for his son and daughter, servant and maidservant, minors, because they are not: but Josephus (l), their countryman, better interprets this law, who says, that travellers, of those that passed by the way, were not forbidden tasting ripe fruits, and even were permitted to fill themselves with them as if their own, whether they were of the country or strangers.
(i) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Maaserot, c. 2. sect. 7. (k) Misn. Bava Metzia, c. 7. sect. 2, 4, 5, 6. (l) Antiqu. l. 4. c. 8. sect. 21.