Deuteronomy 17:17
Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Deuteronomy 17:17. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself — As the manner of other kings was, contrary to the design of God from the beginning. That his heart turn not away — From God and his law, as Solomon’s did. Neither silver nor gold — Lest this should lift up his heart in confidence and pride, which God abhors, and beget in him a contempt of his people.

They are not simply forbidden to be rich, if God made them so, which was the case of David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, and some others; but they are forbidden, either inordinately to desire, or irregularly to procure great riches, by grinding the faces of their own subjects, or possessing themselves, contrary to justice, of the property of others.17:14-20 God himself was in a particular manner Israel's King; and if they set another over them, it was necessary that he should choose the person. Accordingly, when the people desired a king, they applied to Samuel, a prophet of the Lord. In all cases, God's choice, if we can but know it, should direct, determine, and overrule ours. Laws are given for the prince that should be elected. He must carefully avoid every thing that would turn him from God and religion. Riches, honours, and pleasures, are three great hinderances of godliness, (the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life,) especially to those in high stations; against these the king is here warned. The king must carefully study the law of God, and make that his rule; and having a copy of the Scriptures of his own writing, must read therein all the days of his life. It is not enough to have Bibles, but we must use them, use them daily, as long as we live. Christ's scholars never learn above their Bibles, but will have constant occasion for them, till they come to that world where knowledge and love will be made perfect. The king's writing and reading were as nothing, if he did not practise what he wrote and read. And those who fear God and keep his commandments, will fare the better for it even in this world.Multiplication of wives would lead to sensuality, and so to an apostasy no less fatal in effect than downright idolatry (compare Exodus 34:16). This rule, like the others, abridges to the ruler of Israel liberties usually enjoyed without stint by the kings of the East. The restriction was in the days of Moses unprecedented; and demanded a higher standard in the king of Israel than was looked for among his equals in other nations.

Neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold - In this third prohibition, as in the other two, excess is forbidden. Vast accumulation of treasure could hardly be effected without oppression; nor when effected fail to produce pride and a "trust in uncertain riches" 1 Timothy 6:17.

17. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away—There were the strongest reasons for recording an express prohibition on this point, founded on the practice of neighboring countries in which polygamy prevailed, and whose kings had numerous harems; besides, the monarch of Israel was to be absolutely independent of the people and had nothing but the divine law to restrain his passions. The mischievous effects resulting from the breach of this condition were exemplified in the history of Solomon and other princes, who, by trampling on the restrictive law, corrupted themselves as well as the nation.

neither shall he greatly multiply … silver and gold—that is, the kings were forbidden to accumulate money for private purposes.

Neither shall he multiply wives, as the manner of other kings was.

That his heart turn not away, to wit, from God and his law; either,

1. To idolatry and superstition, to which women are ofttimes prone, and especially such women as he was likely to choose, even the daughters of neighbouring and idolatrous kings and princes, as Solomon did; or,

2. To other manifold sins and violations of his duty to his people, either by neglect and contempt of his business, through effeminacy and sloth, or by oppressing his people, and perverting justice, to comply with the vast and exorbitant desires of his wives.

Neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold, lest this should lift up his heart in confidence and pride, which God abhors, and beget in him a contempt of his people; and lest it should incline, or engage, or enable him to burden his people with immoderate exactions. They are not simply forbidden to be rich, if God made them so either by the voluntary gifts of their subjects, or by the spoils of their enemies, which was the case of David, and Solomon, and Jehoshaphat, &c.; but they are forbidden either inordinately to desire, or irregularly to procure, great riches by grinding the faces of their poor people, or by other wicked arts and courses, as the manner of their neighbouring kings was. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away,.... From attending to the duty of his office, the care and government of his people, and from serious religion; and particularly from the worship of the true God, as the heart of Solomon was turned away from it by his numerous idolatrous wives, 1 Kings 11:3, it is a common notion of the Jews that a king might have eighteen wives, and no more (k): neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold; he might increase his wealth, but not greatly, lest his heart should be lifted up with pride by it, and lest his subjects should be oppressed and burdened with taxes for that purpose; or he, being possessed of so much, should make use of it to enslave them, and especially should be so elated with it as to deny God, and despise his providence, and disobey his laws; see Proverbs 30:9. The Jews generally say (l), that he ought not to multiply more than what will pay the stipends or wages of his servants, and only for the treasury of the house of the Lord, and for the necessity of the congregation (or commonwealth), and for their wars; but not for himself, and his own treasury.

(k) Maimon. Issure Biah, c. 1. sect. 2. Misn. ut supra. (Sanhedrin, c. 10. sect. 4.). T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 21. 1. Targum Jon. & Jarchi in loc. (l) Maimon. ib. sect. 4. Misn. ut supra.

Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart {l} turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.

(l) From the Law of God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. multiply wives … silver and gold] Solomon notoriously did so. His marriages with foreign princesses were for political ends, but introduced heathen cults into Israel (1 Kings 11:1, cp. 1 Kings 16:31).They shall do "according to the sound of the word which they utter" (follow their decision exactly), and that "according to the sound of the law which they teach," and "according to the right which they shall speak." The sentence was to be founded upon the Thorah, upon the law which the priests had to teach.
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