Deuteronomy 21:11
And see among the captives a beautiful woman, and have a desire to her, that you would have her to your wife;
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Deuteronomy 21:11. And hast a desire unto her — Moses here returning to the case of war with the neighbouring nations, directs that, if a Hebrew soldier conceived a peculiar regard for a captive woman, and desired to marry her, he must not do it immediately after she became his prisoner, it being of dangerous consequence for the Israelites to marry Gentile wives. He was first to keep the woman in his house for a month, at least, where she was to live in the retirement and habit of a mourner, for the loss of her parents and her country; as also to give her time to be instructed in the knowledge of the true God and his will, and renounce her idolatrous worship, and to allow him sufficient space to try whether his affection for her was calm and steady, or might cool and wear off. If this interval caused no abatement of his love, but, upon her turning proselyte, he still desired to make her his wife, he might then lawfully do it.21:10-14 By this law a soldier was allowed to marry his captive, if he pleased. This might take place upon some occasions; but the law does not show any approval of it. It also intimates how binding the laws of justice and honour are in marriage; which is a sacred engagement.The regulations which now follow in the rest of this and throughout the next chapter bring out the sanctity of various personal rights and relations fundamental to human life and society.

Deuteronomy 21:10-14. The war supposed here is one against the neighboring nations after Israel had utterly destroyed the Canaanites (compare Deuteronomy 7:3), and taken possession of their land.

De 21:10-23. The Treatment of a Captive Taken to Wife.

10-14. When thou goest to war … and seest among the captives a beautiful woman … that thou wouldest have her to thy wife—According to the war customs of all ancient nations, a female captive became the slave of the victor, who had the sole and unchallengeable control of right to her person. Moses improved this existing usage by special regulations on the subject. He enacted that, in the event that her master was captivated by her beauty and contemplated a marriage with her, a month should be allowed to elapse, during which her perturbed feelings might be calmed, her mind reconciled to her altered condition, and she might bewail the loss of her parents, now to her the same as dead. A month was the usual period of mourning with the Jews, and the circumstances mentioned here were the signs of grief—the shaving of the head, the allowing the nails to grow uncut, the putting off her gorgeous dress in which ladies, on the eve of being captured, arrayed themselves to be the more attractive to their captors. The delay was full of humanity and kindness to the female slave, as well as a prudential measure to try the strength of her master's affections. If his love should afterwards cool and he become indifferent to her person, he was not to lord it over her, neither to sell her in the slave market, nor retain her in a subordinate condition in his house; but she was to be free to go where her inclinations led her.

Hast a desire unto her; or, hast cleaved to her, to wit, in love; or, hast taken delight in her; which may be a modest expression for lying with her, and seems probable, because it is said, Deu 21:14, that he had humbled her, to wit, by military insolence, when he took her captive, not after he had married her, for then he would have expressed it thus, because thou hast married her, which had been more emphatical than to say, because thou hast humbled her. And here seem to be two cases supposed, and direction given what to do in both of them:

1. That he did desire to marry her, of which he speaks Deu 21:11-13.

2. That he did not desire this, or not delight in her, of which he speaks Deu 21:14. And seest among the captives a beautiful woman,.... Whether a virgin, wife, or widow, according to the Jewish writers, even though another man's wife; so Jarchi (c), and Maimonides (d); the marriages of Gentiles being reckoned by the Jews no marriages:

and hast a desire unto her; being captivated with her beauty; some understand this of the strength and rage of lust, but it rather signifies a passionate desire of enjoying her in a lawful way, as follows:

that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; to be married to her in a legal manner; for though it was not allowed the Israelites to marry any of the seven nations of Canaan, nor indeed with any of other nations continuing in their idolatry; yet they might marry such as became their captives and servants, and were wholly in their own power; and especially if proselytes to their religion, and which this fair captive was to become before marriage, as is by some gathered from the following things to be done by her; though after all, this was only a permission, because of the hardness of their hearts, as is said of divorce; and that such marriages were not very grateful to God appears, as some have observed, from the ceremonies used before marriage, to render her contemptible; and the easy dismission of her afterwards, according to the sense of some interpreters.

(c) Vid. T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 21. 2.((d) Hilchot Melachim, c. 8. sect. 3.

And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;
11. the captives] Sam. his.

hast a desire unto her] Heb. ḥashaḳ, see on Deuteronomy 7:7.

and wouldest take her] So Sam. LXX. Heb. omits her.The priests were to come near during this transaction; i.e., some priests from the nearest Levitical town were to be present at it, not to conduct the affair, but as those whom Jehovah had chosen to serve Him and to bless in His name (cf. Deuteronomy 13:5), and according to whose mouth (words) every dispute and every stroke happened (cf. Deuteronomy 17:8), i.e., simply as those who were authorized by the Lord, and as the representatives of the divine right, to receive the explanation and petition of the elders, and acknowledge the legal validity of the act.
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