And it shall be, if you have no delight in her, then you shall let her go where she will; but you shall not sell her at all for money, you shall not make merchandise of her, because you have humbled her.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Deuteronomy 21:14. If thou have no delight in her — The sense may either be, 1st, If, after he had afflicted her, by making her shave her head, change her garments, &c., and keeping her a full month in hope of marriage, he should change his mind and refuse to marry her: or, 2d, If, after he had married her, and she had been his wife some time, he should conceive a dislike to her, and resolve to part with her; in either of these cases it was not to be in his power to use her as a prisoner of war, by either selling her for money, or making her a slave, but he was to give her her liberty, and let her dispose or herself as she pleased. “The wisdom and humanity of Moses,” says Philo, “are very remarkable in this law, whereby the soldiers are forbidden to indulge a hasty and brutal passion, are kept a whole month in abstinence, and thereby have an opportunity given them of knowing the temper and disposition of the woman, for whose misfortune in captivity a compassionate provision is made, by allowing her so long a time of separation and mourning.”
10-14. When thou goest to war … and seest among the captives a beautiful woman … that thou wouldest have her to thy wife—According to the war customs of all ancient nations, a female captive became the slave of the victor, who had the sole and unchallengeable control of right to her person. Moses improved this existing usage by special regulations on the subject. He enacted that, in the event that her master was captivated by her beauty and contemplated a marriage with her, a month should be allowed to elapse, during which her perturbed feelings might be calmed, her mind reconciled to her altered condition, and she might bewail the loss of her parents, now to her the same as dead. A month was the usual period of mourning with the Jews, and the circumstances mentioned here were the signs of grief—the shaving of the head, the allowing the nails to grow uncut, the putting off her gorgeous dress in which ladies, on the eve of being captured, arrayed themselves to be the more attractive to their captors. The delay was full of humanity and kindness to the female slave, as well as a prudential measure to try the strength of her master's affections. If his love should afterwards cool and he become indifferent to her person, he was not to lord it over her, neither to sell her in the slave market, nor retain her in a subordinate condition in his house; but she was to be free to go where her inclinations led her.If thou have no delight in her; either,
1. After thou hast married her; and so this is a permission of a divorce, which being indulged towards an Israelitish woman, was not likely to be denied towards a stranger. Or rather,
2. Before thy marriage; for it is not probable, that God having given him competent time for the trial of his affections to her before he was permitted to marry her, would suffer him upon so slight an occasion, within a day or two after so solemn a contract, to send her away; nor is there a word spoken here of any divorce.
Thou shalt not make merchandise of her, i.e. make gain of her, either by using her to thy own servile works, or by prostituting her to the lusts or to the service of others.
Humbled her, i.e. lain with her, as this phrase is oft used, as Genesis 34:2 Deu 22:24,29 Jud 19:24 Ezekiel 23:10,11.
then thou shalt let her go whither she will; by a bill of divorce, as the Targum of Jonathan, who understands it in this sense, and as the connection of the words seems to require; or else before marriage, at the month's end, or any time before, that if his affections cooled towards her, and all the above methods tended to abate his love of her, then he was obliged to dismiss her, or to grant her her freedom, and let her go wherever she pleased; she was no longer his captive, nor his servant:
but thou shalt not sell her at all for money; as he might have done if he had not made such a proposal to her, and obliged her to the observance of such rites and ceremonies as he did, in order to make her his wife:
thou shalt not make merchandise of her; which seems to express the same thing, and therefore something else is rather intended; as that he should neither make any gain of her by selling her to another, nor retain her in his own service, nor make use of her as a slave; so Jarchi says, that in the Persian language they call service by this word, and which also he says he learnt from an eminent writer of theirs, R. Moses Hadarsan; with which Maimonides (s) agrees, who explains it, shall make no use of her service, or serve himself by her; he should have no profit by her, either by sale, or servitude:
because thou hast humbled her; which phrase it must be owned is often, used of unlawful commerce with a woman, of defiling her, or violating her chastity; and so may seem to confirm the notion of those who think that he lay with her before he took her to his house, and therefore, upon a refusal to marry her afterwards, was obliged to this loss; though the word signifies any kind of affliction, as this was a very great one, a great mortification to her, to be taken into his house, to have her head shaved, and her nails pared, or suffered to grow, and her fine clothes changed for sordid ones; and all this with a profession of a design to marry her, and yet after all is deceived and disappointed by him; wherefore for such a conduct toward her he was obliged to give her her freedom.And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)14. let her go] Lit. dismiss, the term for divorce, the right of which was the husband’s alone, but in this case is qualified by the following.
whither she will] Lit. according to her desire; therefore rather as she will, as full mistress of herself; cp. Jeremiah 34:16 of freed slaves.
thou shalt not sell her, etc.] So in E, Exodus 21:8, of the married slave whom her husband wishes to divorce.
deal with her as a slave] Only here and Deuteronomy 24:7. Although the Ar. forms of the root imply rancour or malice, the Heb. vb seems only to mean deal with her as her owner (Driver, ‘play the master over her’).
because, etc.] Cp Deuteronomy 22:24; Deuteronomy 22:29.Verse 14. - Should the man afterwards come no longer to have pleasure in her, he was to let her go whither she would, but he was not to sell her for money or use any violence to her. Thou shalt not make merchandise of her. The verb in the form here used occurs only here and in Deuteronomy 24:7; derived from a root which signifies to gather or press, it properly means to press for one's self, to lay hands on one, to use violence to one. Psalm 26:6; Psalm 73:13; Matthew 27:24), and then answer (to the charge involved in what had taken place), and say, "Our hands have not shed this blood (on the singular שׁפכה, see Ewald, 317, a.), and our eyes have not seen" (sc., the shedding of blood), i.e., we have neither any part in the crime nor any knowledge of it: "grant forgiveness (lit., 'cover up,' viz., the blood-guiltiness) to Thy people...and give not innocent blood in the midst of Thy people Israel," i.e., lay not upon us the innocent blood that has been shed by imputation and punishment. "And the blood shall be forgiven them," i.e., the bloodshed or murder shall not be imputed to them. On נכּפּר, a mixed form from the Niphal and Hithpael, see Ges. 55, and Ewald, 132, c.
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