When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.Deuteronomy 24:1. Some uncleanness — Some hateful thing, some distemper of body, or quality of mind, not observed before marriage: or some light carriage, as this phrase commonly signifies, but not amounting to adultery. Let him write — This is not a command, as some of the Jews understood it, nor an allowance and approbation, but merely a permission of that practice for prevention of greater mischiefs, and this only until the time of reformation, till the coming of the Messiah, when things were to return to their first institution and purest condition.
And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.
And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;
Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.Deuteronomy 24:4. Her former husband may not take her again — This is the punishment of his levity and injustice in putting her away without sufficient cause, which, by this offer, he now acknowledgeth. Defiled — Not absolutely, as if her second marriage were a sin, but with respect to her first husband, to whom she is as a defiled or unclean woman; that is, forbidden; for things forbidden are accounted and called unclean, (Jdg 13:7,) because they may no more be touched or used than an unclean thing. Thou shalt not cause the land to sin — Thou shalt not suffer such lightness to be practised, lest the people be polluted, and the land defiled and accursed by that means.
When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.Deuteronomy 24:5. Business — Any public office or employment, which may cause an absence from or neglect of his wife. One year — That their affections may be firmly settled, so as there may be no occasion for the divorces last mentioned.
No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man's life to pledge.Deuteronomy 24:6. Millstone — Used in their hand-mills. Under this he understands all other things necessary to get a livelihood, the taking away whereof is against the laws both of charity and prudence, seeing by those things alone he can be enabled both to subsist and to pay his debts. Life — His livelihood, the necessary support of his life.
If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you.Deuteronomy 24:7. That thief shall die — Thus the crime of man-stealing was to be punished with death, though stealing of beasts, or other things, was not.
Take heed in the plague of leprosy, that thou observe diligently, and do according to all that the priests the Levites shall teach you: as I commanded them, so ye shall observe to do.
Remember what the LORD thy God did unto Miriam by the way, after that ye were come forth out of Egypt.Deuteronomy 24:9. Remember what the Lord did unto Miriam — This seems to have been intended as an admonition, to take care lest they spoke evil of dignities, or disobeyed the commands of the priest, which might bring such a stroke upon them as God inflicted upon Miriam.
When thou dost lend thy brother any thing, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge.Deuteronomy 24:10-13. Thou shalt not go in — To prevent both the poor man’s reproach, by having his wants exposed, and the creditor’s greediness, which might be occasioned by the sight of something which he desired, and the debtor could not spare. The pledge — He shall choose what pledge he pleases, provided it be sufficient for the purpose. Thou shalt not sleep — But restore it before night, which intimates that he should take no such thing for pledge without which a man could not sleep. Bless thee — Bring down the blessing of God upon thee by his prayers: for though his prayers, if he be not a good man, shall not avail for his own behalf, yet they shall avail for thy benefit. It shall be righteousness unto thee — Esteemed and accepted by God as a work of righteousness, or mercy.
Thou shalt stand abroad, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee.
And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge:
In any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment, and bless thee: and it shall be righteousness unto thee before the LORD thy God.
Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates:Deuteronomy 24:14-15. Not oppress a hired servant — By detaining his wages from him when due, which is the meaning of oppression here, as appears from the next verse. At his day thou shalt give him his hire — That is, at the time appointed, weekly or daily. He speaks of a hireling who was so poor as not to be able to provide himself and family with necessaries without his wages, and who therefore eagerly expected them as the support of their lives.
At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee.
The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.Deuteronomy 24:16. Not be put to death — If the one be free from the guilt of the other’s sin, except in those cases where the sovereign Lord of life and death, before whom none is innocent, hath commanded it, as Deuteronomy 13:15; Joshua 7:24. For though God do visit the father’s sins upon the children, (Exodus 20.,) yet he will not suffer men to do so.
Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow's raiment to pledge:Deuteronomy 24:17. Raiment — Not such as he hath daily and necessary use of, as being poor. But this concerns not rich persons, nor superfluous raiment.
But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing.
When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.Deuteronomy 24:19-22. It shall be for the stranger — Moses here exhorts them to be mindful of those provisions made for the poor by this law, (Leviticus 19:9-10; Leviticus 23:22,) wherein they are ordered not to be over exact in reaping the fruits of their fields and vineyards, but to leave something to be gathered by their poor neighbours. When thou beatest thine olive-tree — As they were wont to do, with sticks, to bring down the olives. It shall be for the fatherless, &c. — Surely nothing can be more just, humane, or merciful, than all these laws here recited.
When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.