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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Deuteronomy 23:15

 

 

"You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you.

Adam Clarke Commentary

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 runaway.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/deuteronomy-23.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Thou shall not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee. That is, one that has been used ill by a cruel and tyrannical master, and was in danger of his life with him, or of being lamed by him, and therefore obliged to make his escape from him on that account; such an one, when he fell into the hands of an Israelite, was not to be taken and bound, and sent back to his master again, but was to be retained till his master's anger subsided; or however until inquiry could be made into the cause of the difference between him and his master, and matters be made up between them to mutual satisfaction; or if it appeared that the flight of the servant was just, and it was not safe for him to return to his master, then he was to be used as hereafter directed; for it cannot be thought that this law was made to encourage and protect every idle, disobedient, and fugitive servant, which would be very sinful and unjust: the Jewish writers generally understand it of the servants of idolaters fleeing for the sake of religion; Onkelos renders it,"a servant of the people,'of Heathen people; the Targum of Jonathan is,"thou shalt not deliver a stranger (i.e. a proselyte of righteousness, as MaimonidesF23Hilchot Abadim, c. 8. sect. 11. calls this servant) into the hands of those that worship idols, but he shall be delivered by you, that he may be under the shadow of my Shechinah, because that he fled from the worship of his idol.'Jarchi makes mention of another sense; that it may be understood of"a Canaanitish servant of an Israelite that flees (from his master) without the land, where he was not obliged to go with him, and serve him against his will; but I suppose a proselyte is meant;'and much more then will this hold good of an Hebrew servant in such circumstances. Aben Ezra interprets this of a servant not an Israelite, who, in time of war, flees from his master, not an Israelite also, unto the camp of Israel, and that for the glory of the divine name which is called upon Israel; such an one, though a servant, might not be delivered to his master.


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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.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/deuteronomy-23.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Thou shalt not h deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee:

(h) This is meant of the heathen, who fled because of their masters' cruelty, and embrace the true religion.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:15". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/deuteronomy-23.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee:

The servant — Of such as belonged to the Canaanites, or other neighbouring nations, because if he had lived in remote countries, it is not probable that he would flee so far to avoid his master, or that his master would follow him so far to recover him. For the Canaanites this sentence was most just, because both they and theirs were all forfeited to God and Israel, and whatsoever they enjoyed was by special indulgence. And for the other neighbours it may seem just also, because both masters and servants of these and other nations are unquestionably at the disposal of the Lord their maker and sovereign ruler. Understand it likewise of such as upon enquiry appear to have been unjustly oppressed by their masters. Now it is not strange if the great God, who hates all tyranny, and styles himself the refuge of the oppressed doth interpose his authority to rescue such persons from their cruel masters.


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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 23:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/deuteronomy-23.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Although this Law has a tendency to humanity and kindness, it still does not appear to be altogether just. Since many masters oppressed their slaves with tyrannical arrogance, their wickedness rendered it necessary to afford some alleviation to the poor creatures. Thus slaves were permitted to take refuge in temples, and at Rome at the statues of the Caesars, so that if they proved themselves to have been treated with injustice and inhumanity, they might, when their case was proved, be transferred by sale to merciful masters. This, indeed, was endurable, but the refuge which is here granted to slaves defrauds their masters of their just right; since, without their case being heard, they have liberty given them to reside in the land of Canaan; thus, too, the law of nations is violated, since the land is opened to every fugitive. Besides, since runaway slaves are generally wicked and criminal, whatever place may be their asylum, it will be filled with many sources of infection. I know not whether there is sufficient foundation for the opinion of some who think that the slaves were exempted by privilege from their former servitude, (49) in order that they might give themselves up to God’s service, and that thus true religion might be propagated. It certainly does not seem consistent that filth and refuse of every sort should be received into the Church, because, in the end, it would have been filled with all kinds of corruptions; and besides, it was by no means decorous that whatever crime had been elsewhere committed should be sheltered under God’s name. For, suppose a thief, or an adulterer, or a murderer, should leave his master, and seek for an asylum in the Holy Land, what else would it have been to receive and protect such guests, but to overthrow law and justice, and to set up a state of foul barbarism? I think, therefore, that more is to be understood than the words express, viz., that, if it should be found that the slaves had not fled in consequence of their own evil doings, but on account of the excessive cruelty of their masters, the people should not drive them away, which would have been tantamount to giving them up to butchery. And, in fact, it may be inferred that judicial proceedings were to be instituted, because a choice is given as to the city in which they prefer to dwell.

Religion, indeed, stood them in some stead, because those who sought a place and home in the land of Canaan, were obliged to dedicate themselves to God, and to be initiated in His worship; still, God would never have allowed His name to be profaned by the reception of wicked persons without discrimination. Wherefore, as I briefly slated before, God inculcates humanity upon His people, lest, by the extradition of fugitive slaves, they should be necessary to the cruelty of others; because their masters would have been their executioners; and, since lie forbids the people from ill-treating them, He implies, by these words, that He only so far provides for the safety of these wretched beings, as to allow them to defend their innocence in a court of justice; wherefore I have thought fit to place this law amongst the Supplements of the Sixth Commandment.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:15". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/deuteronomy-23.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Deuteronomy 23:15 Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee:

Ver. 15. The servant that is escaped.] A heathen servant that flees for religion, and desires to "join himself to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servant," such must have no cause given them to say, "The Lord hath utterly separated me from his people." [Isaiah 56:2; Isaiah 56:6]


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/deuteronomy-23.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 15. Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant, &c.— i.e. A foreign servant, says Houbigant, not one of the Jewish nation; for it is not added, the servant of thy brother, or of thy neighbour: besides, Moses addresses the whole nation, as appears from the words, in one of thy gates [or cities:] so that there is little doubt, that the meaning of the law is, to appoint an asylum for foreign servants; either because the neighbouring nations would not restore the Israelitish servants who should fly to them, or because it concerned not the Israelites to judge those who were without.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:15". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/deuteronomy-23.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

This is not to be understood universally, as if all servants that flee from their masters, though without any sufficient cause or colour of justice, might be detained from them by any person to whom they fled for refuge, for this is apparently contrary to all the laws of religion, and justice, and charity, and would open a door to infinite disorders and mischiefs; but it is to be understood,

1. Of the servants of strangers, because it follows, Deuteronomy 23:16, he shall dwell with thee, even among you, which shows that he had dwelt with and belonged to another people.

2. Of such as belonged to the Canaanites, or other neighbouring nations, because if he had lived in remote countries, it is not probable that he would flee so far to avoid his master, or that his master would follow him so far to recover him. And for the Canaanites this sentence was most just, because both they and theirs were all forfeited to God and to Israel, and whatsoever they enjoyed was by special indulgence. And for the other neighbours it may seem just also, partly, because some of them were within the larger limits of the land belonging to Israel by God’s grant or deed of gift, Genesis 15:18 Joshua 1:4; partly, because by their hostile carriages they had given Israel a right to much more of theirs than a few servants that might possibly run away from their masters; and especially, because both masters and servants of these and other nations are unquestionably at the dispose of the Lord their Maker and sovereign Ruler.

3. Of such as upon inquiry appear to have been unjustly oppressed by their masters, as is implied by that phrase of his, making an escape, which supposeth a deliverance from danger or vexation. Now it is not strange nor unjust, if the great God, who hates all tyranny, and styles himself the refuge of the oppressed, doth interpose his authority, and help to rescue such persons from their cruel masters, who otherwise would be too strong for them.

4. Of such as came to them out of a desire to embrace the true religion, which possibly his master perceiving endeavoured by force to restrain him from, as it may be probably thought from his choosing and liking to live among the Israelites, expressed Deuteronomy 23:16. Now if this great and supreme Master, to whom all other masters are but servants, and they and theirs are absolutely in his power, shall receive and protect one that gives up himself to his service against the will of the under-master, who in this case rebels against his sovereign Lord, what shadow is there of injustice in the case?


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/deuteronomy-23.html. 1685.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

To thee, from among the Gentiles. The promised land was thus declared a land of liberty, (Calmet) to encourage poor slaves to embrace the service of the true God, and to flee from the slavery of the devil, and from the society of those who adored him in their idols. The whole earth belongs to the Lord, and He was thus pleased to punish those who might claim a right to these slaves. (Haydock) --- Some believe that the price was given to the owner, at the public expense. The Rabbins allow this privilege of an asylum, only to those who fled from a foreign country, or from an infidel master, to embrace the true religion. Circumcision was given to them as an inviolable mark of liberty. (Chaldean) Those who had been sold for their crimes, or for debt, by the sentence of the judge, could not claim this exemption. (Grotius, Jur. iii. 7.) --- Philo (de humanit.) says, it would be unjust to give up a slave who has sought refuge with us. We ought either to reconcile him to his master, or sell him to another, and give the price to the former owner. Some translate the Hebrew in a contrary sense, "Thou shalt not shut up the slave who has fled to thee from his master," as if it were unjust to refuse to deliver him up. But the law points out some cases where it is lawful for a slave to flee away, and consequently people must be allowed to receive him. The following verse is decisive in favour this explanation.


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:15". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/deuteronomy-23.html. 1859.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee:
1 Samuel 30:15; Obadiah 1:14; Philemon 10:19

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/deuteronomy-23.html.

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