Exodus 21:10
If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.
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(10) If he take him another wife.—Polygamy is viewed as lawful in this passage, as elsewhere generally in the Mosaic Law, which did not venture to forbid, though to some extent discouraging it. The legislator was forced to allow many things to the Hebrews, “for the hardness of their hearts” (Matthew 19:8).

Her duty of marriage.—Rather, her right of cohabitation.

21:1-11 The laws in this chapter relate to the fifth and sixth commandments; and though they differ from our times and customs, nor are they binding on us, yet they explain the moral law, and the rules of natural justice. The servant, in the state of servitude, was an emblem of that state of bondage to sin, Satan, and the law, which man is brought into by robbing God of his glory, by the transgression of his precepts. Likewise in being made free, he was an emblem of that liberty wherewith Christ, the Son of God, makes free from bondage his people, who are free indeed; and made so freely, without money and without price, of free grace.A man might, in accordance with existing custom, sell his daughter to another man with a view to her becoming an inferior wife, or concubine. In this case, she was not "to go out," like the bondman; that is, she was not to be dismissed at the end of the sixth year. But women who were bound in any other way, would appear to have been under the same conditions as bondmen. See Deuteronomy 15:17. Ex 21:7-36. Laws for Maidservants.

7-11. if a man sell his daughter—Hebrew girls might be redeemed for a reasonable sum. But in the event of her parents or friends being unable to pay the redemption money, her owner was not at liberty to sell her elsewhere. Should she have been betrothed to him or his son, and either change their minds, a maintenance must be provided for her suitable to her condition as his intended wife, or her freedom instantly granted.

Her duty of marriage is called due benevolence, 1 Corinthians 7:3. Or, her dwelling, as the word is oft used. So here are the three great conveniences of life, food, and raiment, and habitation, all which he is to provide for her. Or, her cohabitation, or, her time, the convenient and appointed times for conjugal converse with her; for some times were disallowed for it, Le 15, and when there were plurality of wives, they had their vicissitudes, Genesis 30:15,16.

Shall he not diminish, or rather, not withdraw, or deny it, as the word signifies, and as the LXX., Chaldee, Samaritan, Vulgate, and others render it, If he take him another wife,.... The father takes another wife for his son, or the son takes another wife to himself after he has betrothed and married his father's maidservant:

her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish; neither deny it her in whole, nor lessen it in part, but give her her full due of each. What is meant by the two former words is easy, and admits of no difficulty, the latter is differently interpreted. Some take it to signify no other than an "habitation" (u), that as he was to provide food and raiment for her, so an house to dwell, in; but the generality of interpreters, Jewish and Christian, understand it as we do, of the conjugal duty, the use of the marriage bed, or what the apostle calls due benevolence, 1 Corinthians 7:3. The word is thought to have the signification of a fixed time for it; and the Misnic doctors (w) are very particular in assigning the set times of it for different persons; and in those countries where there were, and where there still are, plurality of wives, each had, and have their turns, see Genesis 30:15.

(u) "habitationem ejus", Montanus, Junius & Tremellius; so some in Aben Ezra. Vid. Pfeiffer. "dubia vexata", cent. 1. loc. 97. (w) Misn. Cetubot, c. 5. sect. 6.

If he take {i} him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.

(i) For his son.

10. her flesh] The case contemplated is that of a well-to-do Israelite, who could have several concubines, and enjoy animal food every day: Israelites of the poorer class ate animal food seldom or never. ‘Flesh’ (Psalm 78:20; Psalm 78:27) should not be weakened to ‘food’: a diminution of ordinary food, such as bread and vegetables, is not contemplated.

her rights of marriage] i.e. her conjugal rights. The Heb. word occurs only here; and its etymological meaning is uncertain.

10, 11. Third special case: if after having taken the woman as a concubine he takes another concubine as well: in that case, he must still allow his first concubine her full rights; if he does not do this, he must give her her freedom.Verse 10. - If he take him another wife - i.e., If he marry her himself, and then take another, even a legitimate, wife - her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage shall he not diminish - she shall retain during her life all the privileges of a married woman - he shall not diminish aught from them. The word translated "duty of marriage" seems to mean "right of cohabitation." There were three different circumstances possible, under which emancipation might take place. The servant might have been unmarried and continued so (בּגפּו: with his body, i.e., alone, single): in that case, of course, there was no one else to set at liberty. Or he might have brought a wife with him; and in that case his wife was to be set at liberty as well. Or his master might have given him a wife in his bondage, and she might have borne him children: in that case the wife and children were to continue the property of the master. This may appear oppressive, but it was an equitable consequence of the possession of property in slaves at all. At the same time, in order to modify the harshness of such a separation of husband and wife, the option was given to the servant to remain in his master's service, provided he was willing to renounce his liberty for ever (Exodus 21:5, Exodus 21:6). This would very likely be the case as a general rule; for there were various legal arrangements, which are mentioned in other places, by which the lot of Hebrew slaves was greatly softened and placed almost on an equality with that of hired labourers (cf. Exodus 23:12; Leviticus 25:6, Leviticus 25:39, Leviticus 25:43, Leviticus 25:53; Deuteronomy 12:18; Deuteronomy 16:11). In this case the master was to take his servant האלהים אל, lit., to God, i.e., according to the correct rendering of the lxx, πρὸς τὸ κριτήριον, to the place where judgment was given in the name of God (Deuteronomy 1:17; cf. Exodus 22:7-8, and Deuteronomy 19:17), in order that he might make a declaration there that he gave up his liberty. His ear was then to be bored with an awl against the door or lintel of the house, and by this sign, which was customary in many of the nations of antiquity, to be fastened as it were to the house for ever. That this was the meaning of the piercing of the ear against the door of the house, is evident from the unusual expression in Deuteronomy 15:17, "and put (the awl) into his ear and into the door, that he may be thy servant for ever," where the ear and the door are co-ordinates. "For ever," i.e., as long as he lives. Josephus and the Rabbins would restrict the service to the time ending with the year of jubilee, but without sufficient reason, and contrary to the usage of the language, as לעלם is used in Leviticus 25:46 to denote service which did not terminate with the year of jubilee. (See the remarks on Leviticus 25:10; also my Archologie.)
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