Wesley's Notes on the Bible
He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.
23:1 He that is wounded - A phrase denoting an eunuch. Shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord - Shall not be admitted to honours and offices either in the church or commonwealth of Israel; and so the congregation of the Lord doth not here signify, the body of the people, but the society of the elders or rulers of the people. Add to this, that the Hebrew word, Kahal, generally signifies a congregation or company of men met together; and therefore this cannot so conveniently be meant of all the body of the people, which could never meet in one place, but of the chief rulers, which frequently did so. Nor is it strange that eunuchs are excluded from government, both because such persons are commonly observed to want that courage which is necessary for a governor, because as such persons ordinarily were despicable, so the authority in their hands was likely to be exposed to the same contempt.
A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.
23:2 The congregation - Taking the word as in the former verse .
An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:
23:3 For ever - This seems to note the perpetuity of this law, that it should be inviolably observed in all succeeding ages.
Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.
23:4 They met you not with bread and water - As the manner of those times was to wait and provide for strangers and travellers, which was the more necessary, because in those times and countries, there were no public houses of entertainment. Their fault then was unmercifulness to strangers and afflicted persons, which was aggravated both by their relation to the Israelites, as being the children of Lot, and by the special kindness of God, and of the Israelites to them, in not fighting against them.
Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.
Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.
23:6 Thou shalt not seek their peace - That is, make no contracts either by marriages or leagues, or commerce with them, but rather constantly keep a jealous eye over them, as enemies who will watch every opportunity to ensnare or disturb thee. This counsel was now the more necessary, because a great part of the Israelites lived beyond Jordan in the borders of those people, and therefore God sets up this wall of partition betwixt them, as well knowing the mischief of bad neighbours, and Israel's proneness to receive infection from them. Each particular Israelite is not hereby forbidden to perform any office of humanity to them, but the body of the nation are forbidden all familiar conversation with them.
Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land.
23:7 Thou wast a stranger - And didst receive habitation, protection and provision from them a long time, which kindness thou must not forget for their following persecution. It is ordinary with men, that one injury blots out the remembrance of twenty courtesies; but God doth not deal so with us, nor will he have us to deal so with others, but commands us to forget injuries, and to remember kindnesses.
The children that are begotten of them shall enter into the congregation of the LORD in their third generation.
23:8 In their third generation - Supposing their grandfather, or great - grandfather turned proselyte, and the children continue in that faith received by such ancestors.
When the host goeth forth against thine enemies, then keep thee from every wicked thing.
23:9 Keep from every wicked thing - Then especially take heed, because that is a time of confusion and licentiousness; when the laws of God and man cannot be heard for the noise of arms; because the success of thy arms depends upon God's blessing, which wicked men have no reason to expect; and because thou dost carry thy life in thy hand, and therefore hast need to be well prepared for death and judgment.
If there be among you any man, that is not clean by reason of uncleanness that chanceth him by night, then shall he go abroad out of the camp, he shall not come within the camp:
But it shall be, when evening cometh on, he shall wash himself with water: and when the sun is down, he shall come into the camp again.
Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad:
And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:
23:13 Cover - To prevent the annoyance of ourselves or others; to preserve and exercise modesty and natural honesty; and principally that by such outward rites they might be innured to the greater reverence of the Divine Majesty, and the greater caution to avoid all real and moral uncleanness.
For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.
Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee:
23:15 The servant - Of such as belonged to the Canaanites, or other neighbouring nations, because if he had lived in remote countries, it is not probable that he would flee so far to avoid his master, or that his master would follow him so far to recover him. For the Canaanites this sentence was most just, because both they and theirs were all forfeited to God and Israel, and whatsoever they enjoyed was by special indulgence. And for the other neighbours it may seem just also, because both masters and servants of these and other nations are unquestionably at the disposal of the Lord their maker and sovereign ruler. Understand it likewise of such as upon enquiry appear to have been unjustly oppressed by their masters. Now it is not strange if the great God, who hates all tyranny, and styles himself the refuge of the oppressed doth interpose his authority to rescue such persons from their cruel masters.
He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.
There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.
23:17 No whore - No common prostitute, such as were tolerated and encouraged by the Gentiles, and used even in their religious worship. Not that such practices were allowed to the strangers among them, as is evident from many scriptures and reasons, but that it was in a peculiar manner, and upon special reasons, forbidden to them, as being much more odious in them than in strangers.
Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God.
23:18 The hire of a whore - This is opposed to the practice of the Gentiles, who allowed both such persons and the oblations they made out of their infamous gains; and some of them kept lewd women, who prostituted themselves in the temples, to the honour of their false Gods, and offered part of their profit to them. Or the price of a dog - It seems to mean, of a whoremonger or sodomite. Such are called dogs, Rev 22:15. And it is not improbable they are called so here. From these God would not accept of any offering.
Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:
23:19 Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother - To an Israelite. They held their estates immediately from God, who while he distinguished them from all other people, might have ordered, had he pleased, that they should have all things in common. But instead of that, and in token of their joint interest in the good land he had given them, he only appointed them, as there was occasion, to lend to one another without interest. This among them would be little or no loss to the lender, because their land was so divided, their estates so settled, and there was so little a merchandise among them, that it was seldom or never they had occasion to borrow any great sums, but only for the subsistence of their family, or some uncommon emergence. But they might lend to a stranger upon usury, who was supposed to live by trade, and therefore got by what he borrowed: in which case 'tis just, the lender should share in the gain. This usury therefore is not oppressive: for they might not oppress a stranger.
Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.
23:21 Not slack - Not delay: because delays may make them both unable to pay it, and unwilling too.
But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee.
That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.
23:23 A free - will - offering - Which though thou didst really make, yet being made, thou art no longer free, but obliged to perform it.
When thou comest into thy neighbour's vineyard, then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill at thine own pleasure; but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel.
23:24 At thy pleasure - Which was allowed in those parts, because of the great plenty and fruitfulness of vines there.
When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour's standing corn.