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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Deuteronomy 21:23

 

 

his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.

Adam Clarke Commentary

His body shall not remain all night upon the tree - Its exposure for the space of one day was judged sufficient. The law which required this answered all the ends of public justice, exposed the shame and infamy of the conduct, but did not put to torture the feelings of humanity by requiring a perpetual exhibition of a human being, a slow prey to the most loathsome process of putrefaction. Did ever the spiking of the heads of state criminals prevent high treason? or the gibbeting of a thief or a murderer, prevent either murder or robbery? These questions may be safely answered in the negative; and the remains of the ancient barbarism which requires these disgusting and abominable exhibitions, and which are deplored by every feeling heart, should be banished with all possible speed. In the case given in the text, God considers the land as defiled while the body of the executed criminal lay exposed, hence it was enjoined, Thou shalt in any wise bury him that day.

For he that is hanged is accursed of God - That is, he has forfeited his life to the law; for it is written, Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them; and on his body, in the execution of the sentence of the law, the curse was considered as alighting; hence the necessity of removing the accursed thing out of sight. How excellent are all these laws! How wondrously well calculated to repress crimes by showing the enormity of sin! It is worthy of remark that in the infliction of punishment prescribed by the Mosaic law, we ever find that Mercy walks hand in hand with Judgment.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:23". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/deuteronomy-21.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

He that is hanged is accursed of God - i. e. “Bury him that is hanged out of the way before evening: his hanging body defiles the land; for God‘s curse rests on it.” The curse of God is probably regarded as lying on the malefactor because, from the fact of his being hanged, be must have been guilty of a especially atrocious breach of God‘s covenant. Such an offender could not remain on the face of the earth without defiling it (compare Leviticus 18:25, Leviticus 18:28; Numbers 35:34). Therefore after the penalty of his crime had been inflicted, and he had hung for a time as a public example, the holy land was to be at once and entirely delivered from his presence. See Galatians 3:13 for Paul‘s quotation of this text and his application of it.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:23". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/deuteronomy-21.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

His body shall not remain all night upon the tree,.... Which is to be understood of any and everyone that was hanged, and not of the rebellious son only; of whom JosephusF12Antiqu. l. 4. c. 8. sect. 24. says, that he was to be stoned by the multitude without the city, and having remained a whole day for a spectacle unto all, was to be buried at night; and indeed such a person was not to remain hanging on the tree any part of the night, but to be taken down at sun setting; so the Targum of Jonathan,"ye shall bury him at sun setting;'so says MaimonidesF13Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 15. sect. 7. , they hang a man near the setting of the sun and loose him immediately, and if he continues they transgress a negative precept, "his body shall not remain", &c. yea, according to him and to the MisnahF14Sanhedrin, c. 6. sect. 5. , and which agrees with the practice of the Jews to this day, not only those that were put to death by the sanhedrim, but whoever suffered his dead to remain unburied a night transgressed a negative command, unless he kept him for his honour, to get for him a coffin and shroud:

but thou shalt in any wise bury him in that day: by all means, if possible; malefactors were not buried in the sepulchre of their fathers, but there were two burying places provided by the sanhedrim, one for those that were stoned and burnt, and another for those that were killed with the sword and strangledF15Sanhedrin, c. 6. sect. 5. ; and even the instruments of their death were to be buried also, as MaimonidesF16Ut supra, (Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 15.) sect. 9. relates, the tree on which he is hanged is buried with him, that there may be no remembrance of the evil, and they say, this is the tree on which such an one was hanged; and so the stone with which he is stoned, and the sword with which he is killed, and the napkin with which he is strangled, all are buried in the place where he is put to death, but not in the grave itself:

for he that is hanged is accursed of God: plainly appears to be so, having committed some foul sin which has brought the curse of God upon him, and which being hanged on a tree was a plain proof and declaration of; and therefore having hereby suffered the rigour of the law, the curse of it, his body was ordered to be taken down; for the words are not a reason of his being hanged, but a reason why being hanged, and so openly accursed, he should not remain hanging, but be taken down and buried: the meaning is not, as Onkelos gives it, that"because he sinned before the Lord he is hanged,'and particularly was guilty of blasphemy; which is given as the reason of his being hanged, and as the sense of this passage; on the mention of which it is saidF17Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 6. sect. 4. ,"it is as if he should say, wherefore is he hanged? because he cursed God, and the name of God was found profaned:'but though this, or any other capital crime, may be allowed to be the reason of the man's being hanged, and so apparently accursed; yet this is not the reason of his being loosed from thence, but his having bore the curse and satisfied the law: and hence this is applied to Christ by the apostle, in Galatians 3:13 showing, that his hanging on the tree was an indication and proof of his being made sin and a curse for his people, or that he bore the curse of the law for their sins, and that the taking of him down from the tree, and burying him, signified the removing the curse from him and his people for whom he suffered; or that thereby he redeemed them from the curse of the law, as the apostle expresses it:

that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance: which is another reason for taking down the body from the tree and burying it, lest the land of Canaan, which the Lord had given them for an inheritance, and which was typical of the undefiled inheritance, 1 Peter 1:4 should be polluted, both in a natural sense, through the putrefaction and corruption, and the disagreeable smell of a dead body, and in a ceremonial sense, as every carcass was defiling, if a person but entered where it was; and therefore a dead body was not to be left hanging openly in the air, and rotting there.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:23". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/deuteronomy-21.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

His body shall not remain m all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged [is] accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee [for] an inheritance.

(m) For God's law is satisfied by his death, and nature abhors cruelty.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:23". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/deuteronomy-21.html. 1599-1645.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

REFLECTIONS

READER! may it be your happiness and mine, while perusing this chapter, to remark the superiority of the gospel to the law. Evidently we here see by the provision made for certain cases to which no outward restraints could reach, how infinitely transcending that spiritual worship is, to which believers in JESUS are called, who are not without law to GOD, but under the law to CHRIST. The law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in a better hope did, by which we draw nigh to GOD.

But chiefly, Reader, in the perusal of this Chapter, may you and I derive grace from the great glorifier of JESUS, to behold him shadowed forth in those services of the law. Blessed spirit of truth! do thou guide our souls into all truth. Say, Holy LORD! is it not JESUS whose blood shed in the valley of this world, opens a source for the discovery of all our soul murdering transgressions, by which we destroy ourselves?

And is he not our peace in making peace, for us with our GOD, with our consciences, with our neighbours, with the world, with all things? Is he not the holy Warrior which hath conquered sin and death, and brought home our souls as captives to his salvation? Is it not he, who, for the love he hath to our persons, hath betrothed us to himself forever and ever? And was he not content to be made a curse for us when he hung on the tree and sustained the whole pressure of our sins, that in his righteousness we might be blessed! Hail, holy, blessed, dearest JESUS! be thou my strength and song, for thou art become my salvation; my soul doth magnify the LORD, and my spirit hath rejoiced in GOD my Saviour!


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Bibliography
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:23". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/deuteronomy-21.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

He is accursed of God — He is in a singular manner cursed and punished by God's appointment with a most shameful kind of punishment, as this was held among the Jews and all nations; and therefore this punishment may suffice for him, and there shall not be added to it that of lying unburied. And this curse is here appropriated to those that are hanged, to so signify that Christ should undergo this execrable punishment, and be made a curse for us, Galatians 3:13, which though it was to come in respect to men, yet was present unto God.

Defiled — Either by inhumanity towards the dead: or by suffering the monument of the man's wickedness, and of God's curse, to remain publick a longer time than God would have it, whereas it should he put out of sight, and buried in oblivion.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:23". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/deuteronomy-21.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Deuteronomy 21:23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged [is] accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee [for] an inheritance.

Ver. 23. For he that is hanged.] {See Trapp on "Galatians 3:13"}


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:23". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/deuteronomy-21.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Is accursed of God, i.e. he is in a singular manner cursed and punished by God’s appointment with a most shameful kind of punishment, as this was held among the Jews and all nations; and therefore this punishment may suffice for him, and there shall not be added to it that of lying unburied, which was another great calamity, Jeremiah 16:4. And this curse is here appropriated to those that are hanged, partly because this punishment was inflicted only upon the most notorious and public offenders, and such as brought the curse of God upon the community, as Numbers 25:4 2 Samuel 21:6; and principally to foresignify that Christ should undergo this execrable punishment, and be made a curse for us, Galatians 3:13, which though it was yet to come in respect to men, yet was present unto God, and in his eye at this time. And so this is delivered with respect unto Christ, as many other passages of Scripture manifestly are.

Be not defiled, to wit, morally; either by inhumanity towards the dead; or rather by suffering the monument or memorial of the man’s great wickedness, and of God’s curse, to remain public and visible a longer time than God would have it, whereas it should be put out of sight, and buried in oblivion.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:23". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/deuteronomy-21.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

23. His body shall not remain all night upon the tree — The exposed dead body defiled the land. Comp. Joshua 8:29; Joshua 10:26.

For he that is hanged is accursed of God — The translation given in the version is the one most generally accepted. The Jewish commentators have rendered it: “He that is hanged is a curse to God — that is, an insult or mockery.” We prefer the former. The whole passage would be equivalent to this: “Let not the body hang on the tree after sunset, for the hanging body of a malefactor defiles the land, since the curse of God rests upon it.” For the application of the passage, “He that is hanged is accursed of God,” to Jesus Christ, see Galatians 3:13.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:23". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/deuteronomy-21.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Deuteronomy 21:23. He is accursed of God — He is in a singular manner cursed and punished by God’s appointment with a most shameful kind of punishment, as this was held among the Jews and all nations; and therefore this punishment may suffice for him, and there shall not be added to it that of lying unburied. And this curse is here appropriated to those that are hanged, to signify beforehand that Christ should undergo this execrable punishment, and be made a curse for us, (Galatians 3:13,) which, though it was future in respect to men, yet was present unto God. Defiled — Either by inhumanity toward the dead, or by suffering the monument of the man’s wickedness, and of God’s curse, to remain public a longer time than God would have it; whereas, it ought to be put out of sight, and buried in oblivion.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:23". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/deuteronomy-21.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Of God. Chaldean, "he has been fixed on the gibbet for sinning against God." Symmachus and Arabic, "he has blasphemed the Lord." Syriac, "the man who has blasphemed shall be hung." Only people accused of great crimes such as blasphemy and idolatry, were condemned to this reproachful death, and prayers were not said for them in the synagogue, as they were for other persons, during the 11 months following their decease. (Calmet) --- They are not to be remembered before God. Their dead bodies are to be buried before sun-set, that the country may not be defiled. The punishment itself is extremely infamous, and the name of God is often used by the Jews, to express something in the highest degree, as the cedars of God, &c. (Haydock) --- Some understand this passage, as if the body were not to be left on the gibbet, because man, being created to the likeness of God, he will not allow the body to be insulted. Homer (Iliad xxiv.) says that Achilles offered an insult to the earth, when he dragged the dead body of Hector round the walls of Troy. Others think, that the criminal having been treated with due severity, as accursed of God, his corpse must not be deprived of decent burial. Res sacra miser. The Jews refused this privilege to none but suicides, (Josephus, Jewish Wars iii. 25,) while the Egyptians and Phœnicians suffered the bodies to rot upon the gibbet, whose inhumanity God here reproves. St. Paul reads this verse in a different manner both from the Hebrew and Septuagint, leaving out of God, and substituting, with the Septuagint, the words every one, and on a tree. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree, Galatians iii. 13. St. Jerome remarks, that on this, as well as on other occasions, he adheres to the sense, without following the express words of Scripture. He also observes, with Tertullian, that only those are declared accursed by the law, who are hung for their crimes; and as Jesus Christ suffered not for any fault of his own, but being willing to appear in the character of one accursed, he has procured for us all blessings. (Calmet) --- In a mystical sense, that man is accursed who is obstinate in sin, hanging as it were on the tree, which was the occasion of our first parents' transgression. (Worthington) --- St. Jerome seems to think that the Jews have inserted of God, to intimate that Christ was accursed of him. (Haydock)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:23". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/deuteronomy-21.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

accursed = a curse. Compare Numbers 25:4. 2 Samuel 21:6.

land = soil. Hebrew. "adamah.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:23". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/deuteronomy-21.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

(For he that is hanged is accursed of God) , [ taaluwy (Hebrew #8518)] - suspended; the suspension refers to the carcass. A dead body being deemed an unclean thing which defiled the person who came into contact with it, it follows that the corpse of a criminal who has suffered an ignominious death by execution was, in Jewish phraseology, an abomination and a curse; and accordingly this term is actually applied to all violators of the divine law (Deuteronomy 27:15 to the end). [The Septuagint has: pas kekramenos epi xulou-everyone who hangeth on a tree (cf. Galatians 3:13).]


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:23". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/deuteronomy-21.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.
he that is hanged is accursed of God
Heb. the curse of God. That is, it is the highest degree of reproach that can attach to a man, and proclaims him under the curse of God as much as any external punishment can. They that see him thus hanging between heaven and earth, will conclude him abandoned of both, and unworthy of either. Bp. Patrick observes, that this passage is applied to the death of Christ; not only because he bare our sins and was exposed to shame, as these malefactors were that were accursed of God, but because he was in the evening taken down from the cursed tree and buried, (and that by the particular care of the Jews, with an eye to this law, Joh 19:31,) in token, that now the guilt being removed, the law was satisfied, as it was when the malefactors had hanged till sun-set: it demanded no more. Then he, and those that are his, ceased to be a curse. And as the land of Israel was pure and clean when the body was buried, so the church is washed and cleansed by the complete satisfaction which Christ thus made.
7:26; Numbers 25:4; Joshua 7:12; 2 Samuel 21:6; Romans 9:3; Galatians 3:13; 1 Corinthians 16:22; 2 Corinthians 5:21
thy land
Leviticus 18:25; Numbers 35:33,34

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:23". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/deuteronomy-21.html.

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