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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Deuteronomy 25

 

 

Verse 1

Deuteronomy 25:1. If there be a controversy between men — Having made provision for the security of private right in some such remarkable cases as might be sufficient standards whereby to regulate all others, and having fixed punishments to the breach of the most capital laws, Moses now comes to such criminal matters as deserved only corporal penalties, and directs the inferior courts to be just and impartial in their proceedings upon all such complaints. They shall justify the righteous — Acquit him from guilt and false accusations, and free him from punishment. Condemn the wicked — Declare him guilty, and pass sentence of condemnation upon him to suitable punishment.


Verse 2

Deuteronomy 25:2. Worthy to be beaten — Which the Jews say was the case of all those who had committed crimes which the law commands to be punished, without expressing the kind or degree of punishment. Before his face — That the punishment might be duly inflicted, without excess or defect. And from this no person’s rank or quality exempted him, if he were a delinquent.


Verse 3

Deuteronomy 25:3. Forty stripes he may give him — The law of Moses very wisely limited the number of stripes, lest severe judges should order delinquents to be lashed to death, as was often done among the Romans, than which, perhaps, a more cruel kind of death can hardly be devised. And it seems not to have been superstition, but prudent caution, in the Jews, when they would not exceed thirty-nine stripes, lest, through mistake or forgetfulness, they should go beyond the bounds which they were commanded to keep. Thy brother should seem vile — Lest the judges, by exceeding the bounds of humanity, and that compassion which was due to a brother, a partaker of human nature in common with themselves, and one of the same nation and community, civil and religious, should be accustomed to think despicably of their poor brethren, and set their lives at naught. Or lest he should be made contemptible to his brethren, either by this cruel usage of him, as if he were a brute beast; or by some deformity or infirmity of body, which excessive beating might produce.


Verse 4

Deuteronomy 25:4. When he treadeth out the corn — Which they did in those parts, either immediately by their hoofs, or by drawing carts or other instruments over the corn. Hereby God taught them humanity, even to their beasts that served them, and much more to their servants, or other men who laboured for them, especially to their ministers, 1 Corinthians 9:9.


Verse 5-6

Deuteronomy 25:5-6. If brethren dwell together — In the same town, or, at least, country. For if the next brother had removed his habitation into remote parts, or were carried thither into captivity, then the wife of the dead had her liberty to marry the next kinsman that lived in the same place with her. One — Any of them, for the words are general, and the reason of the law was to keep up the distinction of tribes and families, that so the Messiah might be discovered by the family from which he was appointed to proceed; and also of inheritances, which were divided among all the brethren, the firstborn having only a double portion. A stranger — To one of another family. That his name be not put out — That a family be not lost. So this was a provision that the number of their families might not be diminished.


Verse 9-10

Deuteronomy 25:9-10. Loose his shoe — As a sign of his resignation of all his right to the woman, and to her husband’s inheritance; for as the shoe was a sign of one’s power and right, (Psalms 60:8; Psalms 108:9,) so the parting with the shoe was a token of the alienation of such right; and as a note of infamy, to signify that by this disingenuous action he was unworthy to be among free men, and fit to be reduced to the condition of the meanest servants, who used to go barefoot, Isaiah 20:2; Isaiah 20:4. His name — That is, his person, and his posterity also. So it was a lasting blot.


Verse 13

Deuteronomy 25:13. Divers weights, great and small — The great to buy with, the small for selling. This law taught them to be so far from practising deceit, that they were not even to have the instruments of it by them. Would to God that there was no need to enforce the same law in our days!


Verse 17-18

Deuteronomy 25:17-18. Out of Egypt — Which circumstance greatly aggravated their sin, that they should do thus to a people who had been long exercised with sore afflictions, to whom pity was due by the laws of nature and humanity, and for whose rescue God had in so glorious a manner appeared, which they could not be ignorant of. And he feared not God — Though they feared Israel, whom they durst not look in the face, but cut them off behind, yet they feared not God, but acted a base and inhuman part, in contempt of the divine authority, and of all the miraculous interpositions of the divine providence in behalf of that chosen nation. So that while their conduct was barbarous to Israel, they set the great Jehovah at defiance.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 25:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/deuteronomy-25.html. 1857.

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