Deuteronomy 23


Neither eunuchs, bastards, Ammonites, nor Moabites, shall be

incorporated with the genuine Israelites, 1-3.

The reason why the Ammonites and Moabites were excluded, 4-6.

Edomites and Egyptians to be respected, 7.

Their descendants in the third generation may be incorporated

with the Israelites, 8.

Cautions against wickedness when they go forth against their

enemies, 9.

To keep the camp free from every defilement, and the reason why,


The slave who had taken refuge among them is not to be delivered

up to his former master, 15, 16.

There shall be no prostitutes nor sodomites in the land, 17.

The hire of a prostitute or the price of a dog is not to be

brought into the house of God, 18.

The Israelites shall not lend on usury to each other, 19;

but they may take usury from strangers, 20.

Vows must be diligently paid, 21-23.

In passing through a vine yard or field a man may eat of the

grapes or corn, but must carry away none with him, 24, 25.


Verse 1. Shall not enter into the congregation, &c.] If by

entering the congregation be meant the bearing a civil office

among the people, such as magistrate, judge, &c., then the reason

of the law is very plain; no man with any such personal defect as

might render him contemptible in the sight of others should bear

rule among the people, lest the contempt felt for his personal

defects might be transferred to his important office, and thus his

authority be disregarded. The general meaning of these words is,

simply, that the persons here designated should not be so

incorporated with the Jews as to partake of their civil


Verse 2. A bastard shall not enter] mamzer, which is

here rendered bastard, should be understood as implying the

offspring of an illegitimate or incestuous mixture.

Verse 3. An Ammonite or Moabite] These nations were subjected

for their impiety and wickedness, (see De 23:4, 5,) to

peculiar disgrace, and on this account were not permitted to hold

any office among the Israelites. But this did not disqualify them

from being proselytes: Ruth, who was a Moabitess, was married to

Boaz, and she became one of the progenitors of our Lord.

Even to their tenth generation] That is, for ever, as the next

clause explains; see Ne 13:1.

Verse 12. &c.] These directions may appear trifling to some,

but they were essentially necessary to this people in their

present circumstances. Decency and cleanliness promote health,

and prevent many diseases.

Verse 15. Thou shalt not deliver-the servant which is

escaped-unto thee] That is, a servant who left an idolatrous

master that he might join himself to God and to his people. In

any other case, it would have been injustice to have harboured the


Verse 17. There shall be no whore] See on Ge 38:15-21.

Verse 18. The hire of a whore, or the price of a dog] Many

public prostitutes dedicated to their gods a part of their impure

earnings; and some of these prostitutes were publicly kept in the

temple of Venus Melytta, whose gains were applied to the support

of her abominable worship.

Verse 19. Usury] See Clarke on Le 25:36.

Verse 21. When thou shalt vow, &c.] See Clarke on Nu 30:2, &c.

Verse 24. Thou shalt not put any in thy vessel.] Thou shalt

carry none away with thee. The old English proverb, Eat thy fill

but pocket none, seems to have been founded on this law.

Verse 25. Thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand] It was

on the permission granted by this law that the disciples plucked

the ears of corn, as related Mt 12:1. This was both a

considerate and humane law, and is no dishonour to the Jewish


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