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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

Deuteronomy 24

 

 

Verse 1

DEUTERONOMY CHAPTER 24

Of the woman that was dismissed by her husband with a bill of divorcement, Deuteronomy 24:1-4. The liberty of the new-married man, Deuteronomy 24:5. Pawns and pledges, Deuteronomy 24:6. Man-stealers, Deuteronomy 24:7. Leprosy, Deuteronomy 24:8. And again of pawns or pledges, Deuteronomy 24:10-13. Of day wages, Deuteronomy 24:14,15. Prone to be punished for another’s offence, Deuteronomy 24:16. Of justice and love towards widows, fatherless, and strangers, Deuteronomy 24:17-22.

That she find no favour in his eyes, i.e. he dislike and loathe her. It is a figure called meiosis, whereby more is understood than is expressed, as Proverbs 10:2 17:21 24:23.

Uncleanness; Heb. nakedness, or shamefulness, or filthiness of a thing, i.e. some filthy or hateful thing, some loathsome distemper of body or quality of mind, not observed before marriage; or some light and unchaste carriage, as this or the like phrase commonly signifies, but not amounting to adultery, which was not punished with divorce, but with death.

Send her out of his house; which is not a command to divorce them, as some of the Jews understood it, nor an allowance and approbation, as plainly appears, not only from the New Testament, Matthew 5:31,32 19:8,9, but also from the Old Testament, Genesis 2:24 Malachi 2:16; but merely a permission or toleration of that practice for prevention of greater mischiefs and cruelties of that hard-hearted people towards their wives, and this only for a season, even until the time of reformation, as it is called Hebrews 9:10, i.e. till the coming of the Messias, when things were to return to their first institution and purest condition. The husband is not here commanded to put her away, but if he do put her away, he is commanded

to write and give her a bill of divorcement, before he send her out of his house. And though it be true, as our Saviour observes, that Moses did suffer these divorces, to wit, without punishing them, which also is here implied, yet it must be acknowledged, that if we consult the Hebrew words, those three first verses may seem to be only a supposition, and the words rendered, then let him write her, in the Hebrew run thus, and hath written her, and so it follows, Deuteronomy 24:2. And she be departed out of his house, and be gone and become another man’s wife; then follows Deuteronomy 24:3, which even according to our translation carries on the supposition, And if the latter husband hate her, & c. Then follows the position or prohibition, Deuteronomy 24:4.


Verse 2

For although he could not causelessly put her away without sin, yet she being put away, and forsaken by her husband, might marry another without sin, as is determined in the same or a like case, 1 Corinthians 7:15.


Verse 4

This is the punishment of his levity and injustice in putting her away without sufficient cause, which by this offer he now acknowledgeth.

After that she is defiled; not simply and absolutely, as if her second marriage were a sin, but respectively, or as to her first husband, to whom she is as a defiled or unclean woman, that is, forbidden; for things forbidden are accounted and called unclean, Jude 13:7, because they may no more be touched or used than an unclean thing.

Thou shalt not cause the land to sin, i.e. thou shalt not suffer such abominable lightness and lewdness to be practised, lest the people be polluted, and the land defiled and accursed by that means.


Verse 5

Any business, i.e. any public office or employment, which may cause an absence from or neglect of his wife.

He shall be free at home one year, that their affections newly engaged may be firmly settled, so as there may be no occasions for the divorces last mentioned.


Verse 6

The nether or the upper millstone, used in their handmills; of which see Exodus 11:5 Numbers 11:8 Jeremiah 25:10. Under this one kind he understands all other things necessary to get a livelihood, the taking away whereof is against the laws both of charity and prudence, seeing by those things alone he can be enabled both to subsist and to pay his debts.

A man’s life, i.e. his livelihood, or the necessary supports of his life.


Verse 7

See Poole "Exodus 21:16".


Verse 8

By which words he plainly intimates, that they were not only to have an eye to the Levites’ instructions, but also and especially unto the word and command of God, and that if the Levites’ sentence were manifestly contrary to the command of God, it were not to be obeyed. As now if a Levite or priest should, for fear, or favour, or gain, pronounce a person to be clean, who were really and manifestly unclean, and had the unquestionable marks of leprosy upon him, I suppose no man in his wits will question but every man that saw and knew this were bound to avoid the touching of him, and that if he did touch him he should be defiled by it.


Verse 9

God smote Miriam with leprosy for her contempt of Moses, and therefore thou mayst expect the same or like punishment, if thou dost despise the counsel and direction of the Levites, which I have set over thee, and commanded thee to observe in this and the like matters.


Verse 10

To prevent both the poor man’s reproach, by having his wants exposed to view, and the creditor’s insolence and greediness, which might be occasioned by the sight of something which he desired, and the debtor could not spare.


Verse 11

He shall choose what pledge he please, provided only it be sufficient for the purpose.


Verse 12

But restore it before night, which intimates that he should take no such thing for pledge, without which a man cannot sleep, since it were an idle thing to fetch it and carry it every day. See Poole "Exodus 22:26,27".


Verse 13

Bless thee, instrumentally, as ministers are said to convert and save sinners, to wit, bring down the blessing of God upon thee by his prayers; for though his prayers, if he be not a good man, shall not avail for his own behalf, yet they shall avail for thy benefit.

Righteousness unto thee before the Lord, i.e. esteemed and accepted by God as a work of righteousness, or holiness, or goodness and mercy, which oft is called righteousness, as Psalms 107:9 Proverbs 10:2 Daniel 4:27.


Verse 14

Either by laying too grievous burdens of work upon him, or by withholding his wages from him, as it follows.


Verse 15

At his day; at the time appointed, weekly or daily.

Neither shall the sun go down upon it, to wit, after the day upon which it is due, and desired or demanded by him; for justice must not be denied or delayed.

Setteth his heart upon it, Heb. lifteth up his soul to it, which notes his great desire and hope of it, and his dependence upon it: see Psalms 24:4 Jeremiah 22:27.


Verse 16

Understand it thus, if the one be free from the guilt of the other’s sin, and except in those cases where the sovereign Lord of life and death, before whom none is innocent, hath commanded it, as Deu 13 Jos 7:24. For this law is given to men, not to God; and though God do visit the father’s sins upon the children, Exo 20, yet he will not suffer men to do so.

For his own sin, understand only, and not for any other man’s sin.


Verse 17

Nor of the fatherless; nor of the widow, which is to be supplied out of the last member; nor indeed of any other person; but he particularly mentions these, partly because men are most apt to wrong such helpless persons, and partly because God is pleased especially to charge himself, and so to charge others, with the care of those who have no other refuge. See Isaiah 1:23 Jeremiah 5:28.

A widow’s raiment, to wit, such a one as she hath daily and necessary use of, as being poor, as may appear by comparing this with Deuteronomy 24:12,13, and with other places. But this concerns not rich persons, nor superfluous raiment.


Verse 18

Thou shalt remember, to wit, affectionately and practically; and by the compassionate sense of others’ miseries, thou shalt make it evident that thou hast not forgotten thy own distresses and deliverances.

I command thee to do this thing; I having thereby authority to command thee, and thou having obligations on that account, both to obey me, and to pity others in the same calamities which thou hast felt.


Verse 20

When thou beatest thine olive tree with staves, as they used to do to fetch down the olives.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/deuteronomy-24.html. 1685.

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