There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.…
We have in these verses an excellent lesson upon mercantile morality. There are too many people in this world who are not at all particular how money is made, if only it be made. "The wages of iniquity" are as welcome to them as to Balaam. But it is plain from these verses that the Lord does regard the way money is won, and will not handle what has come licentiously himself, nor give any countenance to his people in doing so.
I. MONEY MADE BY WICKEDNESS IS ABHORRED OF GOD. The wretched woman who lives by her own dishonor, the wretched man who lends himself to licentiousness, are both intolerable to the Divine King. The idols of the heathen may receive the wages of licentiousness, and be served by lewd women, as the history of heathenism shows, but God will have no such dedications polluting his house. As the Holy One, he will not be served by the deliberately unholy and profane.
II. MONEY MADE OUT OF THE NEEDS OF THE POOR SAINTS IS ALSO AS ABOMINATION TO GOD. It was a noble law that Jew was not to play the money-lender to few. To extort from a brother what his needs can ill afford to pay, is forbidden. The Jews were to be brothers indeed, in readiness to lend without hope of recompense. And although this arrangement may not be literally binding under this dispensation, there is a general idea abroad of the undesirableness of making money out of God's poor people. There is to be special consideration shown surely to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). We should suspect a man of worldliness who extorted big interest from a struggling Church, when well able to advance the desperately needed loan.
III. A SPHERE FOR USURY IS RECOGNIZED BY THE LORD. The stranger may borrow under an engagement to pay interest. This is only right. If usury were universally forbidden, the world of commerce would come to a standstill. Capital would not accumulate if it had no reward awaiting it. The stranger, consequently, comes and asks the favor of a loan. He has no claim on you for it, but he is willing to pay a fair price for the obligation. The whole edifice of commerce rests upon the legality of such a transaction, it is a mutual benefit. At the same time, there may be extortion and speculation in usury, just as in other lines of business; and God shows that "extortioners" (1 Corinthians 6:10) have no part in his kingdom. It is selfishness pure and simple, and in its most tyrannical and despicable form.
IV. ALL VOWS REGISTERED IN CONNECTION WITH OUR MONEY-MAKING MUST BE FAITHFULLY PERFORMED. It is almost a natural instinct that vows should be made unto the Lord in connection with our prosperity. Often a person struggling to realize an "honest profit," while the transaction is only in progress, and the issue is still uncertain, dedicates a proportion, if the Lord send him success; or a proportion of a new crop, if it be a good one. Such vows must never be recalled, but always honor-ably met. "Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay" (Ecclesiastes 5:5).
V. THE RIGHTS OF THE HUNGRY SHOULD ALSO BE RESPECTED IF A LAND IS TO ENJOY SUCCESS. The vines are so productive in Palestine, when properly cultivated, and the vineyards so unprotected, that a hungry passenger may fill himself and no one be a bit the poorer. Or he may enter the field of standing corn and make what use he can of his hands. In other words, the hungry was regarded as having a right to satisfy the cravings of nature and to pass on. And when it was placed on the statute-book as a right, it saved the poor man's self-respect and never interfered with his personal freedom. This "poor-law" gives man his need without asking him to surrender his liberty. This is its beauty, it meets the pressing necessity without destroying the person's legitimate self-respect. Liberty is more precious to any upright soul than bread; and it is a wholesome instinct which, as far as possible, should be respected in any beneficent national arrangement. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.