DEUTERONOMY CHAPTER 24.
Precepts Concerning Home Life.
CHIEFLY OF DIVORCE, PLEDGES, AND LEPROSY. ó V.1. When a man hath taken a wife, by the contract which constituted a valid betrothal, and married her, as her husband assumed the position of headship in the house, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her, some shameful, loathsome, lascivious thing, probably in the form of self-pollution, then let him write her a bill of divorcement, a letter severing the marriage-tie, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. V.2. And when she is departed out of his house, after such summary dismissal, she may go and be another manís wife, she had her freedom to act thus. V.3. And if the latter husband, the second husband, hate her, also finding something objectionable in her person or in her deportment, and write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house, or if the latter husband die which took her to be his wife, v.4. her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife after that she is defiled, for that is what her second marriage amounted to, so far as her first husband was concerned; it was implicitly equal to adultery; for that is abomination before the Lord; and thou shalt not cause the land to sin which the Lord, thy God, giveth thee for an inheritance, since such frivolous disregard of the sanctity of the marriage-tie was equivalent to unnatural sins of immorality and to incest, Lev. 18, 25. While divorce was thus permitted to the Jews, as the Lord says, on account of the hardness of their hearts, Matt. 19, 8. 9, yet remarriage, in the circumstances as noted, brought defilement upon the woman, and a remarriage of the first husband to the divorced woman was not permitted. V.5. When a man hath taken a new wife, when he has but recently been married, he shall not go out to war, not even be mustered, as one who was merely engaged to be married, chap. 20, 7, neither shall he be charged with any business, with any public burden or political business; but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken, Prov. 5, 18, instead of burdening her with care and anxiety through the exposure of his life or through his continual absence from home on civil business. V.6. No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge, neither the entire hand mill, with its lower, stationary stone, nor the upper, movable stone, the grinder alone; for he taketh a manís life to pledge, since the daily grinding of the grain and therefore the preparation of the bread for daily consumption depended upon this mill. Such an act would have been an inexcusable harshness. V.7. If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him, namely, into slavery, then that thief shall die, and thou shalt put evil away from among you. V.8. Take need in the plague of leprosy, Lev. 13 and 14, that thou observe diligently and do according to all that the priests, the Levites, the sons of Levi, shall teach you; as I commanded them, so ye shall observe to do. V.9. Remember what the Lord, thy God, did unto Miriam by the way, after that ye were come forth out of Egypt. The point of the warning is that the children of Israel were carefully to guard against such sins as would bring the plague of leprosy upon them, for that this sickness was sometimes inflicted by the Lord as a direct punishment they had seen in the case of Miriam, Num. 12, 10. Deliberate disobedience of the Lord, also in disregarding the laws of sane living which nature teaches. may to this day result in bad diseases and bitter self-accusations.
KINDNESS TOWARD THE POOR AND NEEDY. ó V.10. When thou dost lend thy brother anything, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge. The choice of the pledge was to be left to the borrower, and the lender was to respect the sanctity of his fellow-manís home. V.11. Thou shalt stand abroad, outside the house, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee, something which he could spare for the time being. V.12. And if the man, the borrower, be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge, since this consisted, as a rule, of the upper garment or mantle, which was, at the same time, the poor manís covering; v.13. in any case, by all means, thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment, which served for his bed, and bless thee; and it shall be righteousness unto thee before the Lord, thy God. Cp. Ex. 22, 26. 27. V.14. Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, the laborer working for wages, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates, Lev. 19, 13; v.15. at his day, that is, day by day, thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it, Jer. 22, 13; Jas. 5, 4; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it, he desires to have his wages regularly, because his life depends upon this money; lest he cry against thee unto the Lord and it be sin unto thee. V.16. The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers, neither the one nor the other should suffer the punishment of death for crimes in which they took no part, which they did not countenance; every man shall be put to death for his own sin. In other words, the children of Israel were not to confound the justice of God, Ex. 20, 5, with that of man; they n-ere not to presume upon Godís methods of punishment. V.17. Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger nor of the fatherless, Ex. 22, 20. 21; 23, 9; nor take a widowís raiment to pledge. Cp. Lev. 19, 33. 34. V.18. But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, oppressed on every hand with great severity, and the Lord, thy God, redeemed thee thence; therefore I command thee to do this thing. V.19. When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it; it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow; that the Lord, thy God, may bless thee in all the work of thine hands, as a reward of humanity and brotherly love. Cp. Lev. 19, 9. 10; 23, 22. V.20. When thou beatest thine olive-tree, as was done before they were fully ripe, in order to insure a finer grade of oil, thou shalt not go over the boughs again, in the effort to obtain every last bit of fruit; it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. V.21. When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward, go over the vines a second time; it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. V.22. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt; therefore I command thee to do this thing, chap. 15, 15. All believers will remember the obligations laid upon them in the matter of brotherly love and charity and take care to discharge these obligations whenever they have an opportunity to do so.