Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Thou shalt not see thy brother's ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy brother.XXII.
Deuteronomy 22:1-4. LOST PROPERTY.
(1) Go astray.—Literally, being driven away, as by wild beasts (Jeremiah 1:17), or by robbers. It is not simply straying. “I will seek that which was lost and bring again that which was driven away” (Ezekiel 34:16), and so in many other passages.
Thou shalt not . . . hide thyself from them.—Comp. Proverbs 24:12. “If thou sayest, Behold we knew it not . . . doth not He know it?” And Isaiah 58:7, “that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh.”
(3) In like manner . . . with all lost thing of thy brother’s.—This is only a particular case of the second great commandment. “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
(4) Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ass or his ox fall down . . . and hide thyself.—In Exodus 23:4-5, this is put even more strongly. “If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden . . . thou shalt surely help with him.”
The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.(5) The woman shall not wear . . .—One of the things of which we may well say with St. Paul, “Doth not nature itself teach you?”
If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young:(6) If a bird’s nest.—On this precept there is a remarkable comment in the Talmud (Kiddushin, p. 39, b). “Rabbi Akiba says, You will not find a single duty prescribed in the Law with a promise of reward attached to it, which has not also the resurrection of the dead hanging thereby. In the command to honour thy father and mother, it is written (Deuteronomy 5) ‘that thy days may be prolonged and that it may go well with thee.’ In the liberty of the nest it is written (here), ‘that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.’ Suppose a man’s father says to him, Climb up the tower and bring me the young birds. He ascends the tower, lets the dam go, and takes the young. But on his way back, he falls and is killed. Where is the ‘going well ‘in his case, and where is the prolonging of his days? Aye, but that it may go well with thee in the world where all goes well, and that thy days may be prolonged in that world where all is abiding.”
When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence.(8) When thou buildest a new house.—Obviously the Law refers to houses with flat roofs, upon which it was customary to walk (1Samuel 9:25-26; 2Samuel 11:2).
Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled.(9-11) These precepts appear also in Leviticus 19:19, more briefly.
(9) Defiled—or sanctified. Different crops become “common” at different times. The year’s corn was freed by the wave-sheaf and wave-loaves. The trees not for five years. The rule about the ox and the ass may rest partly on the ground of humanity, the step and the pull of the two creatures being so very unlike. St. Paul gives a spiritual sense to the precept in 2Corinthians 6:14. “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” The ox was a clean animal and fit for sacrifice. The ass was unclean, and must be redeemed with a lamb. The clean and unclean must not till the holy land of Jehovah together.
All these precepts are part of the laws of holiness in Leviticus—rules of behaviour arising from the fact that Israel is the special people of a holy God.
Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.(11) A garment . . . of woollen and linen together.—In Ezekiel 44:17-18, the priests are altogether forbidden the use of woollen garments during their ministry. “The fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Revelation 19:8), literally, their requirements. That is what they need. But it is said of the priests in Ezekiel, “They shall not gird themselves with anything that causeth sweat: That which cometh out of the man defileth him.” Again, in God’s dwelling-place, the interior or mishkân, the tabernacle where He abode, was of fine linen. The outer tent and coverings were of hair and skin and wool. The tabernacle where He dwells, and the earthly house of the tabernacle, must be kept distinct, while His tabernacle “remaineth among us in the midst of our uncleanness.” (See Leviticus 16:16).
Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself.(12) Thou shalt make thee fringes.—See Numbers 16:32-41 for the origin of this requirement. We may call this fringe (or κράςπεδον, Greek) on the four sides of the square shawl or mantle, a mourning for the one man who was executed for sabbath breaking in the wilderness, as well as a reminder to Israel to do all the commandments and be holy unto their God. Of this κράςπεδον, when worn by our Lord on earth, the sick laid hold and were healed. His obedience and His suffering for the transgressions of God’s people are perfect and without flaw.
The principle of these precepts is evident. Even the dress of God’s people must be distinctive. And whether they eat or drink, or whatsoever they do, they must do all to the glory of God. These laws have a symbolical and a sanitary side; being made for the physical well-being as well as for the spiritual teaching of God’s people.
If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,Deuteronomy 22:13-30. LAWS OF CONJUGAL FIDELITY.
(13-21) Virginity.—The law in these verses will be best appreciated by considering its effects. The maidens in Israel would be compelled to guard their maidenliness and innocence, as they valued their lives. Jealousy and caprice on the part of the husbands, in view of this law, would be avoided as likely to incur discredit and serious penalties. A fine of 100 shekels (as in Deuteronomy 22:19), or 50 (as in Deuteronomy 22:29), was no light matter for a nation who found a quarter shekel sufficient for a present to a great man (1Samuel 9:8), and half a shekel too much for a poll-tax on the men of military age (1Chronicles 21:3, and Exodus 30:15; Nehemiah 10:32). The law of the jealousy offering in Numbers 5:12-31, must also be taken into consideration, as guarding the fidelity of the wife. It would be most unadvisable for either man or woman so to act as to bring themselves under the penalties here described. The tendency of these laws would be to make all men watchful and careful for the honour of their families.
(21) She hath wrought folly in Israel.—This expression should be noticed. It appears for the first time in Genesis 34:7, very shortly after the bestowal of the name Israel (Genesis 32). It would almost appear that the name entailed a higher standard of behaviour upon Jacob’s family, after the hand of the Holy One had been laid upon their father. A separate code of rules were binding upon the chosen people from the very beginning of their history. Hardly any point is made of more importance, from the birth of Isaac downwards, than the purity of the chosen seed.
If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;Deuteronomy 22:23-27. PURITY OF THE BETROTHED.
(24) His neighbour’s wife.—It is evident from the language of this precept that a betrothed virgin in Israel is regarded as a wife. The man who humbles her “hath humbled his neighbour’s wife.” This illustrates the language of Matthew 1 Joseph, when Mary was found with child, sought to put her away (as though she were already his wife). The angel said to him, “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife.” He “took unto him his wife.” From the construction of this law it follows that Jesus was the son of Joseph, according to the Scripture. The Evangelists do not seem to think it worth while to prove that He was the son of David except through his father (in law).
If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;Deuteronomy 22:28-29.—SEDUCTION.
See Exodus 22:16-17. The sin of seduction before marriage is punished by a heavy fine. We have recently amended our own laws in the direction of this very precept. But the fact that marriage was made compulsory in these cases makes the Law stricter still. It seems, however, from Exodus 22:17, that the girl’s father might forbid the marriage, though the seducer could not escape from it in any other way.
(30) See Leviticus 18:7. A principle, not merely a precept, is implied here, as appears by the details of Leviticus 18