Deuteronomy 24:8
Take heed in the plague of leprosy, that you observe diligently, and do according to all that the priests the Levites shall teach you: as I commanded them, so you shall observe to do.
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24:5-13 It is of great consequence that love be kept up between husband and wife; that they carefully avoid every thing which might make them strange one to another. Man-stealing was a capital crime, which could not be settled, as other thefts, by restitution. The laws concerning leprosy must be carefully observed. Thus all who feel their consciences under guilt and wrath, must not cover it, or endeavour to shake off their convictions; but by repentance, and prayer, and humble confession, take the way to peace and pardon. Some orders are given about pledges for money lent. This teaches us to consult the comfort and subsistence of others, as much as our own advantage. Let the poor debtor sleep in his own raiment, and praise God for thy kindness to him. Poor debtors ought to feel more than commonly they do, the goodness of creditors who do not take all the advantage of the law against them, nor should this ever be looked upon as weakness.Compare Deuteronomy 21:14; and Exodus 21:16. 8, 9. Take heed in the plague of leprosy—(See Le 13:14). By which words he plainly intimates, that they were not only to have an eye to the Levites’ instructions, but also and especially unto the word and command of God, and that if the Levites’ sentence were manifestly contrary to the command of God, it were not to be obeyed. As now if a Levite or priest should, for fear, or favour, or gain, pronounce a person to be clean, who were really and manifestly unclean, and had the unquestionable marks of leprosy upon him, I suppose no man in his wits will question but every man that saw and knew this were bound to avoid the touching of him, and that if he did touch him he should be defiled by it. Take heed, in the plague of leprosy,.... Whether in the bodies of men, or in houses, or in garments, not to hide and conceal it; or, as Jarchi, weaken the signs of it, or cut out the bright spot; so the Targum of Jonathan:

that thou observe diligently, and do according to all the priests the Levites shall teach you: according to the laws and rules given in such cases, whether they order to shut up persons, houses, or clothes, or pronounce unclean or clean; in all things they were to do as they directed, which appeared to be agreeably to the said rules; for the judgment, management, and ordering of these things, belonged to the priests: of which see Leviticus 13:1,

as I commanded them, so shall ye observe to do: which shows the they were not to comply with their orders, and conform to them, any further than they agreed with the commands of God, and the instructions he had given them in the places referred to.

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.
8, 9. Precautions in Leprosy. Israel shall diligently observe these as taught by the priests under divine command, remembering how God treated the leprous Miriam on the way from Egypt.—Full of deuteronomic phrases; on take heed, see Deuteronomy 4:9; observe and do, Deuteronomy 4:6; observe to do, Deuteronomy 5:1; priests = Levites, Deuteronomy 18:1; as I have commanded, Deuteronomy 8:1; remember, Deuteronomy 7:18, Deuteronomy 25:17; in the way as ye came, etc., Deuteronomy 23:4 (5), Deuteronomy 25:17, etc. The accumulation of these formulas, as in several secondary passages, along with the changes between the Sg. and Pl. forms of address (confirmed by Sam., LXX), suggests that the passage has been expanded by editors. In 8 b read all the Torah (Sam., LXX) that the priests the Levites teach you. If 8 b is original to D this Torah need not be the detailed instructions on leprosy now found in P, Leviticus 13 f., but some earlier priestly Torah from which those have developed; but if 8 b is secondary its reference will be to Leviticus 13 f. Deuteronomy 24:9 refers to Miriam’s seclusion from the camp, Numbers 12:14 f. (So even Calvin.)

Steuern. holds as original only the first clause of 8 and 9a, and revives the opinion (as old as the Vulgate, and favoured by Michaelis, Knobel, etc.) that the law is a call, not to take such precautions in a plague of leprosy as are illustrated by Miriam’s seclusion, but (by general obedience) to guard against the leprosy which fell on Miriam as the punishment for disobedience. Against this is the Heb. construction, in the plague of leprosy; so Steuern. suggests that the original reading was from the plague, etc. But all this interpretation renders the appeal to Miriam’s case much less natural.Verses 8, 9. - The law concerning the leprosy is in Leviticus 13, 14. By this law the priests are directed how to proceed with those afflicted with leprosy; and here the people are counseled by Moses to follow the directions of the priests in this case, however painful it might be for them to submit to the restrictions that would be thereby imposed upon them, remembering what the Lord did to Miriam the sister of Moses, how even she was separated from the camp by the express command of God until she was healed (Numbers 12:14). Michaelis, Keil, and others, following the Vulgate ("Observa diligenter ne incurras plagam leprae sed facies quaecunque docuerint to sacerdotes"), understand this passage as inculcating obedience to the priests, lest leprosy should be incurred as a punishment for disobedience. But it is improbable that a general counsel to submit to the priests should be introduced among the special counsels here given; and besides, the formula הִשָּׁמֶר בְ means, "Take heed to yourself in respect of" (cf. 2 Samuel 20:10; Jeremiah 17:21), rather than "Beware of," or "Be on your guard against." Deuteronomy 24:1-5 contain two laws concerning the relation of a man to his wife. The first (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) has reference to divorce. In these verses, however, divorce is not established as a right; all that is done is, that in case of a divorce a reunion with the divorced wife is forbidden, if in the meantime she had married another man, even though the second husband had also put her away, or had died. The four verses form a period, in which Deuteronomy 24:1-3 are the clauses of the protasis, which describe the matter treated about; and Deuteronomy 24:4 contains the apodosis, with the law concerning the point in question. If a man married a wife, and he put her away with a letter of divorce, because she did not please him any longer, and the divorced woman married another man, and he either put her away in the same manner or died, the first husband could not take her as his wife again. The putting away (divorce) of a wife with a letter of divorce, which the husband gave to the wife whom he put away, is assumed as a custom founded upon tradition. This tradition left the question of divorce entirely at the will of the husband: "if the wife does not find favour in his eyes (i.e., does not please him), because he has found in her something shameful" (Deuteronomy 23:15). ערוה, nakedness, shame, disgrace (Isaiah 20:4; 1 Samuel 20:30); in connection with דּבר, the shame of a thing, i.e., a shameful thing (lxx ἄσχημον πρᾶγμα; Vulg. aliquam faetiditatem). The meaning of this expression as a ground of divorce was disputed even among the Rabbins. Hillel's school interpret it in the widest and most lax manner possible, according to the explanation of the Pharisees in Matthew 19:3, "for every cause." They no doubt followed the rendering of Onkelos, פתגם עבירת, the transgression of a thing; but this is contrary to the use of the word ערוה, to which the interpretation given by Shammai adhered more strictly. His explanation of דּבר ערות is "rem impudicam, libidinem, lasciviam, impudicitiam." Adultery, to which some of the Rabbins would restrict the expression, is certainly not to be thought of, because this was to be punished with death.

(Note: For the different views of the Rabbins upon this subject, see Mishnah tract. Gittin ix. 10; Buxtorf, de sponsal. et divort. pp. 88ff.; Selden, uxor ebr. l. iii. c. 18 and 20; and Lightfoot, horae ebr. et talm. ad Matth. v. 31f.)

כּריתת ספר, βιβλίον ἀποστασίου, a letter of divorce; כּריתת, hewing off, cutting off, sc., from the man, with whom the wife was to be one flesh (Genesis 2:24). The custom of giving letters of divorce was probably adopted by the Israelites in Egypt, where the practice of writing had already found its way into all the relations of life.

(Note: The rabbinical rules on the grounds of divorce and the letter of divorce, according to Maimonides, have been collected by Surenhusius, ad Mishn. tr. Gittin, c. 1((T. iii. pp. 322f. of the Mishnah of Sur.), where different specimens of letters of divorce are given; the latter also in Lightfoot, l.c.)

The law that the first husband could not take his divorced wife back again, if she had married another husband in the meantime, even supposing that the second husband was dead, would necessarily put a check upon frivolous divorces. Moses could not entirely abolish the traditional custom, if only "because of the hardness of the people's hearts" (Matthew 19:8). The thought, therefore, of the impossibility of reunion with the first husband, after the wife had contracted a second marriage, would put some restraint upon a frivolous rupture of the marriage tie: it would have this effect, that whilst, on the one hand, the man would reflect when inducements to divorce his wife presented themselves, and would recall a rash act if it had been performed, before the wife he had put away had married another husband; on the other hand, the wife would yield more readily to the will of her husband, and seek to avoid furnishing him with an inducement for divorce. But this effect would be still more readily produced by the reason assigned by Moses, namely, that the divorced woman was defiled (הטּמּאה, Hothpael, as in Numbers 1:47) by her marriage with a second husband. The second marriage of a woman who had been divorced is designated by Moses a defilement of the woman, primarily no doubt with reference to the fact that the emissio seminis in sexual intercourse rendered unclean, though not merely in the sense of such a defilement as was removed in the evening by simple washing, but as a moral defilement, i.e., blemishing, desecration of the sexual communion with was sanctified by marriage, in the same sense in which adultery is called a defilement in Leviticus 18:20 and Numbers 5:13-14. Thus the second marriage of a divorced woman was placed implicite upon a par with adultery, and some approach made towards the teaching of Christ concerning marriage: "Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced, committeth adultery" (Matthew 5:32). - But if the second marriage of a divorced woman was a moral defilement, of course the wife could not marry the first again even after the death of her second husband, not only because such a reunion would lower the dignity of the woman, and the woman would appear too much like property, which could be disposed of at one time and reclaimed at another (Schultz), but because the defilement of the wife would be thereby repeated, and even increased, as the moral defilement which the divorced wife acquired through the second marriage was not removed by a divorce from the second husband, nor yet by his death. Such defilement was an abomination before Jehovah, by which they would cause the land to sin, i.e., stain it with sin, as much as by the sins of incest and unnatural licentiousness (Leviticus 18:25).

Attached to this law, which is intended to prevent a frivolous severance of the marriage tie, there is another in Deuteronomy 24:5, which was of a more positive character, and adapted to fortify the marriage bond. The newly married man was not required to perform military service for a whole year; "and there shall not come (anything) upon him with regard to any matter." The meaning of this last clause is to be found in what follows: "Free shall he be for his house for a year," i.e., they shall put no public burdens upon him, that he may devote himself entirely to his newly established domestic relations, and be able to gladden his wife (compare Deuteronomy 20:7).

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