You shall not have in your bag divers weights, a great and a small.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Deuteronomy 25:13-16. JUST WEIGHTS AND MEASURES.
So Leviticus 19:35-36. Among the laws of moral holiness comes the law of just weights and measures.
(16) An abomination unto the Lord.—So in Proverbs 11:1, “a false balance is abomination to the Lord.” (See also Amos 8:4-8.) The protection of the poor is the chief practical end in this; rich men can take care of themselves. Poor men are doubly robbed by short weight and measure, because they cannot protect themselves against it. The injustice tends to perpetuate their poverty.Deuteronomy 25:13. Divers weights, great and small — The great to buy with, the small for selling. This law taught them to be so far from practising deceit, that they were not even to have the instruments of it by them. Would to God that there was no need to enforce the same law in our days!Leviticus 19:35-36). It is noteworthy that John the Baptist puts the like duties in the forefront of his preaching (compare Luke 3:12 ff); and that "the prophets" (compare Ezekiel 45:10-12; Amos 8:5; Micah 6:10-11) and "the Psalms" Proverbs 16:11; Proverbs 20:10, Proverbs 20:23, not less than "the Law," especially insist on them.
Divers weights - i. e. stones of unequal weights, the lighter to sell with, the heavier to buy with. Stones were used by the Jews instead of brass or lead for their weights, as less liable to lose anything through rust or wear.
great, either to buy with, or openly to make show of; the
small, for their private use in selling.
a great and a small; great weights, to buy with them, and small weights, to sell with them, as the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it.Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)13. divers weights] Lit. stone and stone. Most ancient weights discovered in Palestine are of stone; for specimens see PEFQ, 1892, 114; 1894, 215 ff.
Royal standards were fixed for them as early as David’s time (2 Samuel 14:26). With this and the next v. cp. H, Leviticus 19:35 : Thou shalt do no wrong (‘awel) in judgement or with rule, stone, or measure.
13–16. Against Divers Weights and Measures
Israel shall not use these—greater (for purchases) and smaller (for sales)—for he who does so is an abomination to Jehovah (Deuteronomy 25:13 f., Deuteronomy 25:16). Interpolated (for it breaks the connection between Deuteronomy 25:13 f. and Deuteronomy 25:16) is a positive command to have a single normal set of weights and measures; that thy days may be long, etc.—Sg. address throughout. Parallel in H, Leviticus 19:35 f., also a negative command with a positive added; but a different expression of the religious motive. The laws may be quite independent; for the provocations for them were many in Israel.
Amos 8:5 describes among other commercial sins making the ephah small (for selling) and the shekel great (for weighing the purchasers’ money, etc.) and dealing falsely with false balances; Mi. Deuteronomy 6:10 declares the scant measure loathsome. To the popular piety weights and measures, like the husbandman’s methods (see on Deuteronomy 22:9-11), were of divine institution, they were Jehovah’s and his work (Proverbs 16:11).Verses 13-16. - Rectitude and integrity in trade are here anew inculcated (cf. Leviticus 19:35, etc.). Verse 13. - Diverse weights; literally, a stone and a stone - a large one for buying, and a small one for selling (cf. Amos 8:5). Both weights and measures were to be "perfect," i.e. exactly correct, and so just. (On the promise in ver. 15, see Deuteronomy 4:26; Deuteronomy 5:16.) Deuteronomy 25:5, Deuteronomy 25:6. If brothers lived together, and one of them died childless, the wife of the deceased was not to be married outside (i.e., away from the family) to a strange man (one not belonging to her kindred); her brother-in-law was to come to her and take her for his wife, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her. יבּם, denom. from יבם, a brother-in-law, husband's brother, lit., to act the brother-in-law, i.e., perform the duty of a brother-in-law, which consisted in his marrying his deceased brother's widow, and begetting a son of children with her, the first-born of whom was "to stand upon the name of his deceased brother," i.e., be placed in the family of the deceased, and be recognised as the heir of his property, that his name (the name of the man who had died childless) might not be wiped out or vanish out of Israel. The provision, "without having a son" (ben), has been correctly interpreted by the lxx, Vulg., Josephus (Ant. iv. 8, 23), and the Rabbins, as signifying childless (having no seed, Matthew 22:25); for if the deceased had simply a daughter, according to Numbers 27:4., the perpetuation of his house and name was to be ensured through her. The obligation of a brother-in-law's marriage only existed in cases where the brothers had lived together, i.e., in one and the same place, not necessarily in one house or with a common domestic establishment and home (vid., Genesis 13:6; Genesis 36:7). - This custom of a brother-in-law's (Levirate) marriage, which is met with in different nations, and as an old traditional custom among the Israelites (see at Genesis 38:8.), had its natural roots in the desire inherent in man, who is formed for immortality, and connected with the hitherto undeveloped belief in an eternal life, to secure a continued personal existence for himself and immorality for his name, through the perpetuation of his family and in the life of the son who took his place. This desire was not suppressed in Israel by divine revelation, but rather increased, inasmuch as the promises given to the patriarchs were bound up with the preservation and propagation of their seed and name. The promise given to Abraham for his seed would of necessity not only raise the begetting of children in the religious views of the Israelites into the work desired by God and well-pleasing to Him, but would also give this significance to the traditional custom of preserving the name and family by the substitution of a marriage of duty, that they would thereby secure to themselves and their family a share in the blessing of promise. Moses therefore recognised this custom as perfectly justifiable; but he sought to restrain it within such limits, that it should not present any impediment to the sanctification of marriage aimed at by the law. He took away the compulsory character, which it hitherto possessed, by prescribing in Deuteronomy 25:7., that if the surviving brother refused to marry his widowed sister-in-law, she was to bring the matter into the gate before the elders of the town (vid., Deuteronomy 21:19), i.e., before the magistrates; and if the brother-in-law still persisted in his refusal, she was to take his shoe from off his foot and spit in his face, with these words: "So let it be done to the man who does not build up his brother's house."
The taking off of the shoe was an ancient custom in Israel, adopted, according to Ruth 4:7, in cases of redemption and exchange, for the purpose of confirming commercial transactions. The usage arose from the fact, that when any one took possession of landed property he did so by treading upon the soil, and asserting his right of possession by standing upon it in his shoes. In this way the taking off of the shoe and handing it to another became a symbol of the renunciation of a man's position and property, - a symbol which was also common among the Indians and the ancient Germans (see my Archologie, ii. p. 66). But the custom was an ignominious one in such a case as this, when the shoe was publicly taken off the foot of the brother-in-law by the widow whom he refused to marry. He was thus deprived of the position which he ought to have occupied in relation to her and to his deceased brother, or to his paternal house; and the disgrace involved in this was still further heightened by the fact that his sister-in-law spat in his face. This is the meaning of the words (cf. Numbers 12:14), and not merely spit on the ground before his eyes, as Saalschtz and others as well as the Talmudists (tr. Jebam. xii. 6) render it, for the purpose of diminishing the disgrace. "Build up his brother's house," i.e., lay the foundation of a family or posterity for him (cf. Genesis 16:2). - In addition to this, the unwilling brother-in-law was to receive a name of ridicule in Israel: "House of the shoe taken off" (הנּעל חלוּץ, taken off as to his shoe; cf. Ewald, 288, b.), i.e., of the barefooted man, equivalent to "the miserable fellow;" for it was only in miserable circumstances that the Hebrews went barefoot (vid., Isaiah 20:2-3;
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