Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity to the elders of the city in the gate:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Numbers 15:38 and its note. Deu 22:17, which in the first congress was infected with blood, as is natural and usual. But because this is not now constant, the enemies of Scripture take occasion to quarrel with this law, as unreasonable and unjust, and such as might oppress the innocent, and hence take occasion to reject the Holy Scriptures. It were much more reasonable for these men either to expound this place metaphorically, of producing those proofs and testimonies of her virginity which should be as satisfactory as if that cloth were produced, as some of the Jews understand it; or modestly to acknowledge their own ignorance in this, as they are forced to do in many other things, and not impudently to conclude it is insoluble, because they cannot resolve it. But there is no need of such general answers, many things may be particularly said for the vindication of this law.
1. That it was necessary for that people, because of their hard-heartedness towards their wives, and their levity and desire of change of wives.
2. That either this trial, or at least the proof of her virginity, was to be taken presently after the day of marriage, and that proof was to be admitted afterwards upon occasion.
3. That this law was seldom or never put in execution, as the Jews note, and seems to be made for terror and caution to husbands and wives, as really other laws have been in like cases.
4. That that God who gave this law did by his providence govern all affairs, and rule the tongues and hearts of men, and therefore would doubtless take care so to order matters that the innocent should not suffer by this means, which he could prevent many ways.
5. That there is a great difference in times and climates. Who knows not that there are many things now by our moderns thought uncertain or false, by which by the ancient physicians were thought and affirmed to be true, and certain in their times and countries, and that many signs of diseases and other things do generally hold true in those more southerly and warmer parts of the world, which are many times deceitful in our northern and colder climates?
6. That this very way of trial of virginity hath been used not only by the Jews, but also by the Arabians and Egyptians, as is affirmed by divers learned writers, among whom yet it was more doubtful and hazardous than among the Jews, who might promise to themselves that God would guide the execution of his own law to a just and good issue.
7. That this sign, if it were uncertain in persons of riper years, yet it may be reasonably thought certain and constant in virgins of young and tender age, and that the Jews did ordinarily marry their daughters when they were about twelve or thirteen years old, as is confessed; as making haste to roll away that reproach which they thought to be in an unmarried state.
and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity; the sheet she lay in when she first bedded with her husband, in her parents' possession, and kept by them as a witness of her purity, should there ever be any occasion for it: and which were to be brought
unto the elders of the city in the gate; which sat in the gate of the city to try causes: the Targum of Jonathan calls it the gate of the sanhedrim, or court of judicature; and, according to Maimonides (q), this court was the court of twenty three judges; for this was a capital crime accused of, a cause relating to life and death, which could not be heard and tried in a lesser court.Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15. father of the damsel, and her mother] Together as in Deuteronomy 21:18 ff. Damsel, Heb. na‘ar, the masc. form used in the Pent, for the fem. 21 times, 13 of which are here (but fem. form in Deuteronomy 22:19) and the rest in Genesis 24, 34; cp. Ruth 2:6; Ruth 4:12.
elders of the city in the gate] Deuteronomy 21:19.Joshua 2:6; 2 Samuel 11:2; Matthew 10:27). - In Deuteronomy 22:9-11, there follow several prohibitions against mixing together the things which are separated in God's creation, consisting partly of a verbal repetition of Leviticus 19:19 (see the explanation of this passage). - To this there is appended in Deuteronomy 22:12 the law concerning the tassels upon the hem of the upper garment (Numbers 15:37.), which were to remind the Israelites of their calling, to walk before the Lord in faithful fulfilment of the commandments of God (see the commentary upon this passage).
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