|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
23:1-8 We ought to value the privileges of God's people, both for ourselves and for our children, above all other advantages. No personal blemishes, no crimes of our forefathers, no difference of nation, shuts us out under the Christian dispensation. But an unsound heart will deprive us of blessings; and a bad example, or an unsuitable marriage, may shut our children from them.
Verse 2. - A bastard; one born of a harlot; so the Hebrew word (מָמְזֶר), which occurs only here and in Zechariah 9:6, is said to mean; LXX., ἐκ πόρνης: Vulgate, de scorto natus; the Talmud and the rabbins represent the word as denoting one begotten in adultery or incest (Maimon., 'Issure Biah.,' c. 15. §§ 1, 2, 7, 9); so also the Syriac bar game, "son of adultery." To his tenth generation; i.e. forever, ten being the number of indefiniteness (cf. Genesis 31:7; Numbers 14:22; Job 19:3; Psalm 3:6, etc.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire 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 Maimonides (h), 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 chapter (i); and it is a rule with them (k), 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 man (l).
(h) Targum Jon. in loc. Misn. Yebamot, c. 8. sect. 2, 4, 5, 6. Maimon. Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 49. (i) Bartenora in Misn. Kiddushin, c. 3. sect. 12. (k) Misn. Kiddushin, c. 3. sect. 12. & Misn. Yebamot, c. 4. sect. 13. Jarchi & Aben Ezra in loc. (l) Misn. Kiddushin, c. 3. sect. 13.
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