|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
20:1-9 In the wars wherein Israel engaged according to the will of God, they might expect the Divine assistance. The Lord was to be their only confidence. In these respects they were types of the Christian's warfare. Those unwilling to fight, must be sent away. The unwillingness might arise from a man's outward condition. God would not be served by men forced against their will. Thy people shall be willing, Ps 110:3. In running the Christian race, and fighting the good fight of faith, we must lay aside all that would make us unwilling. If a man's unwillingness rose from weakness and fear, he had leave to return from the war. The reason here given is, lest his brethren's heart fail as well as his heart. We must take heed that we fear not with the fear of them that are afraid, Isa 8:12.
Verse 2. - The priest. Not the high priest or any one of the priests, but the military priest, the priest appointed to accompany the army, "the anointed for the war;" משׁיח המלחמה, as the rabbins designate him (cf. Numbers 21:6; 1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Chronicles 13:12). His business was to exhort the people, and to encourage them by reminding them that the Lord was their Leader, and would help them in the conflict. The formula of his exhortation is given in vers. 3, 4.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
When all things are preparing for it, and it seems unavoidable:
that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people; not any priest, but one appointed for this service; who is called
the anointed of war, as Jarchi and Aben Ezra observe, and concerning whom Maimonides (d) is more particular; he says,"they appoint a priest to speak to the people at the time of war, and they anoint him with the anointing oil, and he is called the anointed of war; twice the anointed of war speaks unto the people, once in a book at the time they go forth, before they set in battle array, he says to the people, "what man is there", &c. and when he has caused his words to be heard, he returns; at another time, when they are set in array, he says, "fear not", &c.''this man seems to be an emblem of Gospel ministers, who are anointed with the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God, and whose business it is to encourage the people of God to fight the Lord's battles against sin, Satan, and the world, and not to be afraid of their spiritual enemies; directing them to take to them the whole armour of God, and to endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ, to follow him the captain of their salvation, assuring them of victory through him who makes them more than conquerors, and that their warfare is or shortly will be accomplished.
(d) Hilchot Melachim, c. 7. sect. 1, 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2-4. when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people—Jewish writers say that there was a war priest appointed by a special ceremonial to attend the army. It was natural that the solemn objects and motives of religion should have been applied to animate patriotism, and so give additional impulse to valor; other people have done this. But in the case of Israel, the regular attendance of a priest on the battlefield was in accordance with their theocratic government, in which everything was done directly by God through His delegated ministers. It was the province of this priest to sound the trumpets (Nu 10:9; 31:6), and he had others under him who repeated at the head of each battalion the exhortations which he addressed to the warriors in general. The speech (De 20:3, 4) is marked by a brevity and expressiveness admirably suited to the occasion, namely, when the men were drawn up in line.
Deuteronomy 20:2 Parallel Commentaries
Deuteronomy 20:2 NIV
Deuteronomy 20:2 NLT
Deuteronomy 20:2 ESV
Deuteronomy 20:2 NASB
Deuteronomy 20:2 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible