Deuteronomy 21

* The expiation of uncertain murder. (1-9) Respecting a captive

taken to wife. (10-14) The first-born not to be disinherited for

private affection. (15-17) A stubborn son to be stoned. (18-21)

Malefactors not to be left hanging all night. (22,23)

1-9 If a murderer could not be found out, great solemnity is

provided for putting away the guilt from the land, as an

expression of dread and detesting of that sin. The providence of

God has often wonderfully brought to light these hidden works of

darkness, and the sin of the guilty has often strangely found

them out. The dread of murder should be deeply impressed upon

every heart, and all should join in detecting and punishing

those who are guilty. The elders were to profess that they had

not been any way aiding or abetting the sin. The priests were to

pray to God for the country and nation, that God would be

merciful. We must empty that measure by our prayers, which

others are filling by their sins. All would be taught by this

solemnity, to use the utmost care and diligence to prevent,

discover, and punish murder. We may all learn from hence to take

heed of partaking in other men's sins. And we have fellowship

with the unfruitful works of darkness, if we do not reprove

them.
10-14 By this law a soldier was allowed to marry his captive,

if he pleased. This might take place upon some occasions; but

the law does not show any approval of it. It also intimates how

binding the laws of justice and honour are in marriage; which is

a sacred engagement.
15-17 This law restrains men from disinheriting their eldest

sons without just cause. The principle in this case as to

children, is still binding to parents; they must give children

their right without partiality.
18-21 Observe how the criminal is here described. He is a

stubborn and rebellious son. No child was to fare the worse for

weakness of capacity, slowness, or dulness, but for wilfulness

and obstinacy. Nothing draws men into all manner of wickedness,

and hardens them in it more certainly and fatally, than

drunkenness. When men take to drinking, they forget the law of

honouring parents. His own father and mother must complain of

him to the elders of the city. Children who forget their duty,

must thank themselves, and not blame their parents, if they are

regarded with less and less affection. He must be publicly

stoned to death by the men of his city. Disobedience to a

parent's authority must be very evil, when such a punishment was

ordered; nor is it less provoking to God now, though it escapes

punishment in this world. But when young people early become

slaves to sensual appetites, the heart soon grows hard, and the

conscience callous; and we can expect nothing but rebellion and

destruction.
22,23 By the law of Moses, the touch of a dead body was

defiling, therefore dead bodies must not be left hanging, as

that would defile the land. There is one reason here which has

reference to Christ; "He that is hanged is accursed of God;"

that is, it is the highest degree of disgrace and reproach.

Those who see a man thus hanging between heaven and earth, will

conclude him abandoned of both, and unworthy of either. Moses,

by the Spirit, uses this phrase of being accursed of God, when

he means no more than being treated most disgracefully, that it

might afterward be applied to the death of Christ, and might

show that in it he underwent the curse of the law for us; which

proves his love, and encourages to faith in him.
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