When the host goes forth against your enemies, then keep you from every wicked thing.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Deuteronomy 23:9-14. PURITY OF THE CAMP.
(9) When the host goeth forth against thine enemies . . . keep thee.—“Because Satan maketh his accusations in the hour of danger” (Rashi).
(10) Uncleanness that chanceth him by night. As in Leviticus 15:16.
(11) When the sun is down.—“No man is clean (after ceremonial uncleanness) except at the going down of the sun” (Rashi).
(12) Without the camp.—It must not be forgotten that this is the camp of the army, not the whole encampment of Israel in the wilderness. The entire passage is continuous from Deuteronomy 23:9. Hence the whole discussion raised, after the appearance of Dr. Colenso’s work, on the size of the camp of Israel and the possibility of obeying this rule, was simply waste of words, and arose out of a misunderstanding of the matter under consideration. The sanitary value of the rule has been abundantly demonstrated in our own day.
(13) A paddle—rather, a pin, or spike, like that with which Jael slew Sisera. The word for “weapon” does not occur elsewhere. The LXX. translates it “a pin or tent-peg at thy girdle;” the Hebrew word (âzên) being like the Greek (ζώνη). But both Targums interpret the word as “weapon,” connecting it with the Hebrew zayin, which has that meaning. The hinder end of the spear in Abner’s hand was sharp enough to strike Asahel a fatal blow when he followed him (2Samuel 2:23). Saul’s spear also was “stuck in the ground at his bolster” (1Samuel 26:7), probably with its point upwards, by the same spike.
(14) For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of . . . thee.—A most beautiful argument for purity in every sense. It was evidently present to St. Paul’s mind in 2Corinthians 6:16 to 2Corinthians 7:1, “God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them. . . . Having therefore these promises . . . let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”Deuteronomy 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.
then keep thee from every wicked thing; the Targum of Jonathan adds, by way of explanation,"from strange worship, uncovering of nakedness, and from shedding innocent blood;''that is, from idolatry, uncleanness of every sort, and murder; and all other wickednesses ought to be abstained from at all times by all persons, but especially by soldiers in such a circumstance, just going to battle; since sin committed weakens natural courage, as it loads the conscience with guilt; and since victory and success, which depend upon the blessing of God on arms, cannot be reasonably expected, where vices of all sorts are indulged and abound; and especially seeing such are about to expose their lives to the utmost danger, and know not but that in a few hours they must exchange this life for another, and appear before God, the Judge of all, against whom they sin; and yet how little are these things thought of by such in common! it was the wisdom of the Jewish legislature, which was of God, to inculcate such things into the minds of their soldiers.When the host goeth forth against thine enemies, then keep thee from every wicked thing.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Genesis 19:30.), as Knobel supposes, but on account of the hostility they had manifested to the establishment of the kingdom of God. Not only had they failed to give Israel a hospitable reception on its journey (see at Deuteronomy 2:29), but they (viz., the king of the Moabites) had even hired Balaam to curse Israel. In this way they had brought upon themselves the curse which falls upon all those who curse Israel, according to the infallible word of God (Genesis 12:3), the truth of which even Balaam was obliged to attest in the presence of Balak (Numbers 24:9); although out of love to Israel the Lord turned the curse of Balaam into a blessing (cf. Numbers 22-24). For this reason Israel was never to seek their welfare and prosperity, i.e., to make this an object of its care ("to seek," as in Jeremiah 29:7); not indeed from personal hatred, for the purpose of repaying evil with evil, since this neither induced Moses to publish the prohibition, nor instigated Ezra when he put the law in force, by compelling the separation of all Ammonitish, Moabitish, and Canaanitish wives from the newly established congregation in Jerusalem (Ezra 9:12). How far Moses was from being influenced by such motives of personal or national revenge is evident, apart from the prohibition in Deuteronomy 2:9 and Deuteronomy 2:19 against making war upon the Moabites and Ammonites, from the command which follows in Deuteronomy 23:8 and Deuteronomy 23:9 with reference to the Edomites and Egyptians. These nations had also manifested hostility to the Israelites. Edom had come against them when they desired to march peaceably through his land (Numbers 20:18.), and the Pharaohs of Egypt had heavily oppressed them. Nevertheless, Israel as to keep the bond of kindred sacred ("he is thy brother"), and not to forget in the case of the Egyptians the benefits derived from their sojourn in their land. Their children might come into the congregation of the Lord in the third generation, i.e., the great-grandchildren of Edomites of Egyptians, who had lived as strangers in Israel (see at Exodus 20:5). Such persons might be incorporated into the covenant nation by circumcision.
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