Matthew Poole's Commentary
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.Of the woman that was dismissed by her husband with a bill of divorcement, Deu 24:1-4. The liberty of the new-married man, Deu 24:5. Pawns and pledges, Deu 24:6. Man-stealers, Deu 24:7. Leprosy, Deu 24:8. And again of pawns or pledges, Deu 24:10-13. Of day wages, Deu 24:14,15. Prone to be punished for another’s offence, Deu 24:16. Of justice and love towards widows, fatherless, and strangers, Deu 24:17-22.
That she find no favour in his eyes, i.e. he dislike and loathe her. It is a figure called meiosis, whereby more is understood than is expressed, as Proverbs 10:2 17:21 24:23.
Uncleanness; Heb. nakedness, or shamefulness, or filthiness of a thing, i.e. some filthy or hateful thing, some loathsome distemper of body or quality of mind, not observed before marriage; or some light and unchaste carriage, as this or the like phrase commonly signifies, but not amounting to adultery, which was not punished with divorce, but with death.
Send her out of his house; which is not a command to divorce them, as some of the Jews understood it, nor an allowance and approbation, as plainly appears, not only from the New Testament, Matthew 5:31,32 19:8,9, but also from the Old Testament, Genesis 2:24 Malachi 2:16; but merely a permission or toleration of that practice for prevention of greater mischiefs and cruelties of that hard-hearted people towards their wives, and this only for a season, even until the time of reformation, as it is called Hebrews 9:10, i.e. till the coming of the Messias, when things were to return to their first institution and purest condition. The husband is not here commanded to put her away, but if he do put her away, he is commanded
to write and give her a bill of divorcement, before he send her out of his house. And though it be true, as our Saviour observes, that Moses did suffer these divorces, to wit, without punishing them, which also is here implied, yet it must be acknowledged, that if we consult the Hebrew words, those three first verses may seem to be only a supposition, and the words rendered, then let him write her, in the Hebrew run thus, and hath written her, and so it follows, Deu 24:2. And she be departed out of his house, and be gone and become another man’s wife; then follows Deu 24:3, which even according to our translation carries on the supposition, And if the latter husband hate her, & c. Then follows the position or prohibition, Deu 24:4.
And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.For although he could not causelessly put her away without sin, yet she being put away, and forsaken by her husband, might marry another without sin, as is determined in the same or a like case, 1 Corinthians 7:15.
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;No text from Poole on this verse.
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.This is the punishment of his levity and injustice in putting her away without sufficient cause, which by this offer he now acknowledgeth.
After that she is defiled; not simply and absolutely, as if her second marriage were a sin, but respectively, or as 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, Judges 13:7, because they may no more be touched or used than an unclean thing.
Thou shalt not cause the land to sin, i.e. thou shalt not suffer such abominable lightness and lewdness 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.Any business, i.e. any public office or employment, which may cause an absence from or neglect of his wife.
He shall be free at home one year, that their affections newly engaged may be firmly settled, so as there may be no occasions 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.The nether or the upper millstone, used in their handmills; of which see Exodus 11:5 Numbers 11:8 Jeremiah 25:10. Under this one kind 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.
A man’s life, i.e. his livelihood, or the necessary supports 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.See Poole "Exodus 21:16".
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.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.
Remember what the LORD thy God did unto Miriam by the way, after that ye were come forth out of Egypt.God smote Miriam with leprosy for her contempt of Moses, and therefore thou mayst expect the same or like punishment, if thou dost despise the counsel and direction of the Levites, which I have set over thee, and commanded thee to observe in this and the like matters.
When thou dost lend thy brother any thing, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge.To prevent both the poor man’s reproach, by having his wants exposed to view, and the creditor’s insolence and greediness, which might be occasioned by the sight of something which he desired, and the debtor could not spare.
Thou shalt stand abroad, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee.He shall choose what pledge he please, provided only it be sufficient for the purpose.
And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge:But restore it before night, which intimates that he should take no such thing for pledge, without which a man cannot sleep, since it were an idle thing to fetch it and carry it every day. See Poole "Exodus 22:26,27".
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.Bless thee, instrumentally, as ministers are said to convert and save sinners, to wit, 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.
Righteousness unto thee before the Lord, i.e. esteemed and accepted by God as a work of righteousness, or holiness, or goodness and mercy, which oft is called righteousness, as Psalm 107:9 Proverbs 10:2 Daniel 4:27.
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:Either by laying too grievous burdens of work upon him, or by withholding his wages from him, as it follows.
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.At his day; at the time appointed, weekly or daily.
Neither shall the sun go down upon it, to wit, after the day upon which it is due, and desired or demanded by him; for justice must not be denied or delayed.
Setteth his heart upon it, Heb. lifteth up his soul to it, which notes his great desire and hope of it, and his dependence upon it: see Psalm 24:4 Jeremiah 22:27.
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.Understand it thus, if the one be free from the guilt of the other’s sin, and except in those cases where the sovereign Lord of life and death, before whom none is innocent, hath commanded it, as Deu 13 Jos 7:24. For this law is given to men, not to God; and though God do visit the father’s sins upon the children, Exo 20, yet he will not suffer men to do so.
For his own sin, understand only, and not for any other man’s sin.
Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow's raiment to pledge:Nor of the fatherless; nor of the widow, which is to be supplied out of the last member; nor indeed of any other person; but he particularly mentions these, partly because men are most apt to wrong such helpless persons, and partly because God is pleased especially to charge himself, and so to charge others, with the care of those who have no other refuge. See Isaiah 1:23 Jeremiah 5:28.
A widow’s raiment, to wit, such a one as she hath daily and necessary use of, as being poor, as may appear by comparing this with Deu 24:12,13, and with other places. 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.Thou shalt remember, to wit, affectionately and practically; and by the compassionate sense of others’ miseries, thou shalt make it evident that thou hast not forgotten thy own distresses and deliverances.
I command thee to do this thing; I having thereby authority to command thee, and thou having obligations on that account, both to obey me, and to pity others in the same calamities which thou hast felt.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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 beatest thine olive tree with staves, as they used to do to fetch down the olives.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.No text from Poole on this verse.