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." Exodus 21:10The daughter of an Israelite, who had been sold by her father as a maid-servant (לאמה), i.e., as the sequel shows, as a housekeeper and concubine, stood in a different relation to her master's house. She was not to go out like the men-servants, i.e., not to be sent away as free at the end of six years of service; but the three following regulations, which are introduced by אם (Exodus 21:8), ואם (Exodus 21:9), and ואם (Exodus 21:11), were to be observed with regard to her. In the first place (Exodus 21:8), "if she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed." The לא before יעדהּ is one of the fifteen cases in which לא has been marked in the Masoretic text as standing for לו; and it cannot possibly signify not in the passage before us. For if it were to be taken as a negative, "that he do not appoint her," sc., as a concubine for himself, the pronoun לו would certainly not be omitted. הפדּהּ (for הפדּהּ, see Ges. 53, Note 6), to let her be redeemed, i.e., to allow another Israelite to buy her as a concubine; for there can hardly have been any thought of redemption on the part of the father, as it would no doubt be poverty alone that caused him to sell his daughter (Leviticus 25:39). But "to sell her unto a strange nation (i.e., to any one but a Hebrew), he shall have no power, if he acts unfaithfully towards her," i.e., if he do not grant her the promised marriage. In the second place (Exodus 21:9, Exodus 21:10), "if he appoint her as his son's wife, he shall act towards her according to the rights of daughters," i.e., treat her as a daughter; "and if he take him (the son) another (wife), - whether because the son was no longer satisfied, or because the father gave the son another wife in addition to her - "her food (שׁאר flesh as the chief article of food, instead of לחם, bread, because the lawgiver had persons of property in his mind, who were in a position to keep concubines), her raiment, and her duty of marriage he shall not diminish," i.e., the claims which she had as a daughter for support, and as his son's wife for conjugal rights, were not to be neglected; he was not to allow his son, therefore, to put her away or treat her badly. With this explanation the difficulties connected with every other are avoided. For instance, if we refer the words of Exodus 21:9 to the son, and understand them as meaning, "if the son should take another wife," we introduce a change of subject without anything to indicate it. If, on the other hand, we regard them as meaning, "if the father (the purchaser) should take to himself another wife," this ought to have come before Exodus 21:9. In the third place (Exodus 21:11), "if he do not (do not grant) these three unto her, she shall go out for nothing, without money." "These three" are food, clothing, and conjugal rights, which are mentioned just before; not "si eam non desponderit sibi nec filio, nec redimi sit passus" (Rabbins and others), nor "if he did not give her to his son as a concubine, but diminished her," as Knobel explains it.
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