Deuteronomy 24

CHAPTER XXIV

The case of a divorced wife, 1-4.

No man shall be obliged to undertake any public service for the

first year of his marriage, 5.

The mill-stones shall not be taken as a pledge, 6.

The man-stealer shall be put to death, 7.

Concerning cases of leprosy, 8, 9.

Of receiving pledges, and returning those of the poor before

bed-time, 10-13.

Of servants and their hire, 14,15.

Parents and children shall not be put to death for each other,

16.

Of humanity to the stranger, fatherless, widow, and bondman,

17,18.

Gleanings of the harvest, &c., to be left for the poor,

stranger, widow, fatherless, &c., 19-22.

NOTES ON CHAP. XXIV

Verse 1. Some uncleanness] Any cause of dislike, for this

great latitude of meaning the fact itself authorizes us to adopt,

for it is certain that a Jew might put away his wife for any cause

that seemed good to himself; and so hard were their hearts, that

Moses suffered this; and we find they continued this practice even

to the time of our Lord, who strongly reprehended them on the

account, and showed that such license was wholly inconsistent with

the original design of marriage; see Mt 5:31, &c.; Mt 19:3, &c.,

and the notes there.

Verse 3. And write her a bill of divorcement] These bills,

though varying in expression, are the same in substance among the

Jews in all places. The following, collected from Maimonides and

others, is a general form, and contains all the particulars of

such instruments. The reader who is curious may find a full

account of divorces in the Biblioth. Rab. of Bartolocci, and the

following form in that work, vol. iv., p. 550.

"In ---- day of the week, or day ---- of the month A., in ----

year from the creation of the world, or from the supputation (of

Alexander) after the account that we are accustomed to count by,

here, in the place B., I, C., the son of D., of the place B., (or

if there be any other name which I have, or my father hath had, or

which my place or my father's place hath had,) have voluntarily,

and with the willingness of my soul, without constraint,

dismissed, and left, and put away thee, even thee, E., the

daughter of F., of the city G., (or if thou have any other name or

surname, thou or thy father, or thy place or thy father's place,)

who hast been my wife heretofore; but now I dismiss thee, and

leave thee, and put thee away, that thou mayest be free, and have

power over thy own life, to go away to be married to any man whom

thou wilt; and that no man be refused of thine hand, for my name,

from this day and for ever. And thus thou art lawful for any man;

and this is unto thee, from me, a writing of divorcement, and book

(instrument) of dismission, and an epistle of putting away;

according to the Law of Moses and Israel.

A., son of B., witness.

C., son of D., witness."

Verse 4. She is defiled] Does not this refer to her having

been divorced, and married in consequence to another? Though God,

for the hardness of their hearts, suffered them to put away their

wives, yet he considered all after-marriages in that case to be

pollution and defilement; and it is on this ground that our Lord

argues in the places referred to above, that whoever marries the

woman that is put away is an adulterer: now this could not have

been the case if God had allowed the divorce to be a legal and

proper separation of the man from his wife; but in the sight of

God nothing can be a legal cause of separation but adultery on

either side. In such a case, according to the law of God, a man

may put away his wife, and a wife may put away her husband; (see

Mt 19:9;) for it appears that the wife had as much right to put

away her husband as the husband had to put away his wife, see

Mr 10:12.

Verse 5. When a man hath taken a new wife] Other people made a

similar provision for such circumstances. Alexander ordered those

of his soldiers who had married that year to spend the winter with

their wives, while the army was in winter quarters. See Arrian,

lib. i.

Verse 6. The nether or the upper mill-stone] Small

hand-mills which can be worked by a single person were formerly in

use among the Jews, and are still used in many parts of the East.

As therefore the day's meal was generally ground for each day,

they keeping no stock beforehand, hence they were forbidden to

take either of the stones to pledge, because in such a case the

family must be without bread. On this account the text terms the

millstone the man's life.

Verse 8. - 9. The plague of leprosy] See on Le 13:1-14:57

Verse 12. And if the man be poor, &c.] Did not this law

preclude pledging entirely, especially in case of the abjectly

poor? For who would take a pledge in the morning which he knew,

if not redeemed, he must restore at night? However, he might

resume his claim in the morning, and have the pledge daily

returned, and thus keep up his property in it till the debt was

discharged; See Clarke on Ex 22:26. The Jews in several

cases did act contrary to this rule, and we find them cuttingly reproved

for it by the Prophet Amos, Am 2:8.

Verse 15. He is poor, and setteth his heart upon it] How

exceedingly natural is this! The poor servant who seldom sees

money, yet finds from his master's affluence that it procures all

the conveniences and comforts of life, longs for the time when he

shall receive his wages; should his pay be delayed after the time

is expired, he may naturally be expected to cry unto God against

him who withholds it. See most of these subjects treated at large

on Ex 22:21-27.

Verse 16. The fathers shall not be put to death for the

children, &c.] This law is explained and illustrated in

sufficient detail, Eze 18:1-9 &c.

Verse 18. Thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman] Most

people who have affluence rose from comparative penury, for those

who are born to estates frequently squander them away; such

therefore should remember what their feelings, their fears, and

anxieties were, when they were poor and abject. A want of

attention to this most wholesome precept is the reason why pride

and arrogance are the general characteristics of those who have

risen in the world from poverty to affluence; and it is the

conduct of those men which gave rise to the rugged proverb, "Set a

beggar on horseback, and he will ride to the devil."

Verse 19. When thou cuttest down thine harvest] This is an

addition to the law, Le 19:9; 23:22.

The corners of the field, the gleanings, and the forgotten sheaf,

were all the property of the poor. This the Hebrews extended to

any part of the fruit or produce of a field, which had been

forgotten in the time of general ingathering, as appears from the

concluding verses of this chapter.

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