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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Deuteronomy 23:2

 

 

"No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD.

Adam Clarke Commentary

A bastard shall not enter - ממזר mamzer, which is here rendered bastard, should be understood as implying the offspring of an illegitimate or incestuous mixture.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/deuteronomy-23.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

A bastard - Probably, a child born of incest or adultery.

Even to his tenth generation - i. e. (see the next verse and Nehemiah 13:1), forever. Ten is the number of perfection and completeness.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/deuteronomy-23.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord,.... That is born of whoredom, as the Targum of Jonathan; and for the sake of avoiding whoredom and deterring from it was this law made, according to MaimonidesF8Targum Jon. in loc. Misn. Yebamot, c. 8. sect. 2, 4, 5, 6. Maimon. Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 49. , that adulterers might see, as he observes, that they affect their whole family with an irreparable stain, should they commit such an infamous action; though the Jews commonly interpret it of one that is born of any of those incestuous copulations forbidden in Leviticus 18:1 which they gather from this following upon, and being near unto one of those incests mentioned in the last verse of the preceding chapterF9Bartenora in Misn. Kiddushin, c. 3. sect. 12. ; and it is a rule with themF11Misn. Kiddushin, c. 3. sect. 12. & Misn. Yebamot, c. 4. sect. 13. Jarchi & Aben Ezra in loc. , that persons born of such copulations were reckoned bastards; now such an one, according to Jarchi, might not marry an Israelitish woman, or rather might not be admitted into the assembly of elders, or bear any public office. Jephthah may seem to be an objection to this, who was the son of an harlot, Judges 11:1 which might be owing to the badness of the times, the laws of God being neglected, or to the providence of God so ordering it, who is not bound by his own laws, though men are; nor was he the son of a common harlot, nor of an incestuous person, but of his father's concubine; besides some think such only are intended who were born of strangers and not Israelites:

even unto his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord; which seems as if he might at the eleventh; but it is generally interpreted never, as is gathered from the following verse, and from the tenth number being an absolute and perfect one; yet according to the Jewish writers there were ways and means by which their posterity became legitimate; so they say, bastards may be purified (or legitimated), how? if one marries a servant maid, the child is a servant, who if he becomes free, (his) son is a free manF12Misn. Kiddushin, c. 3. sect. 13. .


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/deuteronomy-23.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

b A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.

(b) This was to cause them to live chastely, that their posterity might not be rejected.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:2". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/deuteronomy-23.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.

The congregation — Taking the word as in the former verse.


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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 23:2". "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

2.A bastard shall not enter. All agree that by the word ממזר, mamzer, a bastard is signified, who is born of an uncertain father; but they take it in different ways, For some extend it to all bastards who spring from fornication, whilst others imagine that it refers to those only whose origin is doubtful, and who are called vulgo geniti; viz, whose mothers, in their base and common prostitution of themselves, have brought it about by their gross licentiousness, that their children should be born from this monstrous medley, as it were. This second opinion I approve of most. But, by this symbol God would admonish the seed of Abraham how exalted was its dignity, as being separate from the polluted heathen. Meanwhile, He would not altogether exclude these unhappy persons from the hope of salvation, although, by no fault of their own, they were unable to give the name of their father; but He only humbled them by a temporal punishment, and desired that their example should be profitable to others.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:2". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/deuteronomy-23.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Deuteronomy 23:2 A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.

Ver. 2. A bastard shall not enter.] Lest the reproach of his birth render him contemptible, or less courageous; (a) lest some son of Belial set upon him, as Saul did upon his son Jonathan, and say, "Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman." So of the base and beastly woman, "Do not I know that thou hast done this to the confusion of thy mother’s nakedness?" [1 Samuel 20:30] The mutinous Janizaries called their Emperor Bajizet II, drunkard, beast, rascal, bastard, bengi, that is, bachelor, or scholar; and told him, moreover, that they would teach him to use his great place and calling with more sobriety and discretion. (b) The English slighted and scorned their William the Conqueror, because a bastard; in spite also to whom, and disgrace to his mother Arlet, they called all whores harlots. The Jews at this day, amongst other opprobrious words, wherewith they spitefully load us, call all Christians Mamzer Gel, that is, heathen bastards. Our Saviour, upon better grounds, called them long since, a bastardly brood. [Matthew 12:39] And their own prophet Isaiah did the same thing long before, [Isaiah 57:3-4] and that, for their profane scoffing at the truth and the professors thereof. Yet who so forward as they, to say, "We are not born of fornication," no bastards? [John 8:41]


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/deuteronomy-23.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 2. A bastard shall not enter, &c.— Some render these words, a foreigner or an alien. See Spenc. p. 105. But Mr. Locke observes, upon the original word ממזר mamzer, that it is his opinion, with Maimonides, that the mamzer here spoken of, is one who cometh of any of the nakedness, i.e. incestuous or unlawful intercourses, forbidden in Leviticus 18. See Zechariah 9:6. Houbigant is of the same opinion with Mr. Locke. "They who translate it, a stranger," says he, "when they add the condition; unless he become a proselyte, which Moses does not add, entirely change the sentence: for they assume, that if the stranger become a proselyte, he shall by this means enter into the congregation of the Lord; whereas Moses positively enjoins concerning ממזר mamzer, that he shall not be admitted into the congregation of the Lord, even to the tenth generation; which signifies the same as never, as is evident from the next verse: ten and tenth are taken for an indefinite number. So Jacob said to Laban, thou hast changed my hire these ten times, i.e. very frequently. Moreover, to enter into the congregation of the Lord, was the same as to be made citizens among the Romans, or to be esteemed in the same rank with the citizens themselves; i.e. in a civil, not religious capacity: for it is not forbidden that Ammonites or Moabites should be received, who turned to the religion of the Israelites; but a community of civil privileges is interdicted them, lest the twelve tribes should be mixed with them. The reason of this law was, evidently, to deter people from such unlawful commerce as would leave an indelible blot on their posterity."


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:2". 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

A bastard; so the word is commonly rendered, and so it notes a person base-born, or born in fornication or adultery, or by incestuous or any prohibited mixtures of man and woman.

Object.

1. This law seems harsh, and too severe for the innocent bastard.

Answ. 1. It was only an exclusion from government, which was a tolerable burden.

2. It was a necessary caution to prevent and brand the sin of uncleanness, to which the Jews were more than ordinarily prone.

Object. 2. Pharez and Jephthah were both bastards, yet advanced to great honour and authority.

Answ. God gives laws to us, and not to himself; and, therefore he might, when he saw fit, confer what favour or power he pleased upon any such person, as he did to these. But some add, that the Hebrew word mamzer signifies not every bastard, but a bastard born of any strange woman, as the word may seem to intimate, and as such persons generally seem to have been, because of that special provision, that there should be no whore of the daughters of Israel, as it is here below, Deuteronomy 23:17.

To his tenth generation; or, his tenth generation, as it is in the Hebrew, and so in the following verses.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/deuteronomy-23.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2. A bastard shall not enter — The Hebrew word which our translators have rendered bastard is of doubtful meaning. It occurs in only one other passage, Zechariah 9:6. The rabbins understand it to mean one born of incest or adultery.

Even to his tenth generation — This is equivalent to forever.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/deuteronomy-23.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Mamzer, &c. The author of the Vulgate adds the explication of mamzer, which only occurs again, Zacharias ix. 6. It may in both places denote a stranger, or one of a different religion from the Jews, as Jephte was the son of a prostitute, (Judges xi. 1,) and yet became a judge of Israel. But strangers, as long as they professed a false religion, could not be entitled to the privilege of Jewish citizens; and even after they had relinquished their false worship, they were bound to wait ten whole generations, or a long time, before they could fill the posts of honour and command. (Calmet) --- This, however, seems to be contrary to the disposition made in favour of the Idumeans and Egyptians, who were admitted in the third generation. A mamzer may, therefore, be (Haydock) a bastard of a different nation from the Jews, (Menochius) which was not the case of Jephte. (Haydock) --- The Rabbins specify three sorts of mamzers: 1. those born of parents who, by the law, are forbidden to marry, being to near akin; 2. those who are the fruit of adultery, or some criminal commerce, which is punished with death; and 3. those whose birth subjects the parents to be cut off or retrenched from the people. (Selden, Jur. v. 16.) --- the Septuagint, &c., exclude the children "of a harlot," which is the sense of mamzer in the canon law. The Christian Church rejects such from holy orders, and the Athenians would not suffer bastards to offer sacrifice in the city, but only in the cynosarge, dedicated to Hercules, whose birth any doubts might be entertained. (Calmet) --- It is observable, that such often imitate the wicked conduct of their parents; in which case, they are unfit for the magistracy; and though they may lead a very exemplary life, the law is intended to discourage such practices in parents, which may entail dishonour and loss upon their children; that, if they be not sufficiently restrained by their own personal disgrace, they may at least by the love for their innocent offspring. (Haydock) --- Tenth. In the 11th generation, when the stain was obliterated, the descendant might become a magistrate. (Menochius) --- Some understand that they were excluded for ever, as when the judges of the Areopagus ordered a man to appear again before them in 100 years' time, they meant that his cause was entirely rejected. (Vatable; Casaub. in Atheneus vi.)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:2". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/deuteronomy-23.html. 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.

Even to his tenth generation [ dowr (Hebrew #1755) `


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/deuteronomy-23.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(2) A bastard shall not enter.—Such a person would not, even now, be circumcised by the Jews, or permitted to marry an Israelitish woman, or be buried with his people; therefore he was excluded from the covenant. It is manifest how efficacious would be the enforcement of this law also in preserving the purity of family life.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:2". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/deuteronomy-23.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.
Isaiah 57:3; Zechariah 9:6; John 8:41; Hebrews 12:8

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/deuteronomy-23.html.

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