|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
22; 1 - 31 Judicial laws. - The people of God should ever be ready to show mildness and mercy, according to the spirit of these laws. We must answer to God, not only for what we do maliciously, but for what we do heedlessly. Therefore, when we have done harm to our neighbour, we should make restitution, though not compelled by law. Let these scriptures lead our souls to remember, that if the grace of God has indeed appeared to us, then it has taught us, and enabled us so to conduct ourselves by its holy power, that denying ungodliness and wordly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, Titus 2:12. And the grace of God teaches us, that as the Lord is our portion, there is enough in him to satisfy all the desires of our souls.
Verses 22-24. - Law against oppressing widows and orphans. With the stranger are naturally placed the widow and orphan; like him, weak and defenceless; like him, special objects of God's care. The negative precept here given was followed up by numerous positive enactments in favour of the widow and the orphan, which much ameliorated their sad lot. (See Exodus 23:11; Leviticus 19:9, 10; Deuteronomy 14:29; Deuteronomy 16:11, 14; Deuteronomy 24:19-21; Deuteronomy 26:12, 13.) On the whole, these laws appear to have been fairly well observed by the Israelites; but there were times when, in spite of them, poor widows suffered much oppression. (See Psalm 94:6; Isaiah 1:23; Isaiah 10:2; Jeremiah 7:3-6; Jeremiah 22:3; Zechariah 7:10; Malachi 3:5; Matthew 23:14.) The prophets denounce this backsliding in the strongest terms. Verse 22. - Ye shall not afflict. The word translated "afflict" is of wide signification. including ill-usage of all kinds. "Oppress," and even "vex," are stronger terms.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Ye shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. Who have no friends, husband, or father to be on their side and protect them, and are weak and helpless to defend themselves, and therefore it must be barbarous to do them any injury, either to their persons or property; no one ought to be afflicted and distressed by another, either in body or mind, or substance, and especially such as have no helper, not any to assist them and sympathize with them; for this is a law for every man, as Jarchi observes, is binding upon all; only the Scripture speaks of these, because of their weakness, and because they are more frequently afflicted than others, cruel and unmerciful men taking the advantage of their inability to defend themselves.
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