|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
23:1-9 In the law of Moses are very plain marks of sound moral feeling, and of true political wisdom. Every thing in it is suited to the desired and avowed object, the worship of one only God, and the separation of Israel from the pagan world. Neither parties, friends, witnesses, nor common opinions, must move us to lessen great faults, to aggravate small ones, excuse offenders, accuse the innocent, or misrepresent any thing.
Verse 5. - If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee, etc. The general meaning of the passage is clear - assistance is to be given to the fallen ass of an enemy - but the exact sense of both the second and third clauses is doubtful. Many renderings have been suggested; but it is not clear that any one of them is an improvement on the Authorised Version. Thou shalt surely help with him. The joint participation in an act of mercy towards a fallen beast would bring the enemies into friendly contact, and soften their feelings towards each other.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden,.... Fallen down, and such a burden upon him that he cannot rise up again, but lies under it, and the owner of it is not able of himself to raise it up again:
and wouldst forbear to help him; show an inclination to pass on without giving him any assistance to get up his beast again; or "wouldst thou forbear to help him?" (w) as Jarchi, and others, read with an interrogation, could it be in thine heart to forbear helping him? couldest thou go on, and take no notice of him and his case, and not join him in endeavouring to get up his beast again, that he may proceed its his journey? canst thou be so cruel and hardhearted, though he is thine enemy? but if thou art, know this:
thou shalt surely help with him; to get up his ass again: hence the Jewish canon runs thus (x),"if an ass is unloaded and loaded four or five times, a man is bound, i.e. to help, as it is said, "in helping thou shalt help"; if he (the owner) goes away, and sets himself down, seeing the command is upon thee, if it is thy will and pleasure to unload, unload, he is free; for it is said, with him; if he is an old man, or sick, he is bound, the command of the law is to unload, but not to load.''The words may be rendered, "in leaving thou shalt leave with him" (y); either leave or forsake thine enmity to help him, as Onkelos; or leave thy business, thou art about, to lend him an hand to raise up his beast again.
(w) "num desines sublevare eum?" some in Vatablus; "cessabis auxitiari ei?" Drusius; "desines auxiliari ei?" Pagninus. (x) Misn. Bava Metzia, c. 2. sect. 10. (y) "Deserendo deseres cum eo", Montanus; so Ainsworth.
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