Of humanity towards brethren. (Verse 1-4.)
Various precepts. (Verse 5-12.)
Against impurity. (Verse 13-30.)
1 Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy brother.
2 And if thy brother be not nigh unto thee, or if thou know him not, then thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him again.
3 In like manner shalt thou do with his ass; and so shalt thou do with his raiment; and with all lost thing of thy brother’s, which he hath lost, and thou hast found, shalt thou do likewise: thou mayest not hide thyself.
4 Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again.
[Ex 23:4, Matt 12:11]
God looks upon life as a precious thing. These rules emphasize the fact that a man must love his neighbor as himself (Leviticus 19:18,34; Mark 12:28-31). “You shall not…ignore them” (verse 1). “You may not ignore it” (verse 3). A man cannot pretend that he does not see the occasion to give assistance to his neighbor. The priest and Levite, when they saw the wounded man, passed by on the other side (Luke 10:31,32). This was
an outstanding breach of the merciful law mentioned above.
5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.
though this was an OT command under the law, it was in principle reiterated in the NT (Rom. 1) and has a very timely application to today.
Natural distinctions God Himself has appointed ought to be respected. Here is a probably allusion to the unchaste practices connected with certain idolatrous rites in which the sexes exchanged clothing
6 If a bird’s nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young:
[dam – a mother animal]
7 But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.
Kindness extends to animals as well (Exodus 20:10; Leviticus 22:27,28; Deuteronomy 25:4).If they destroyed both young and old, the breed would soon fail. By cutting off the means of their continual support their days would be shortened on the land. The young never knew liberty, the older did. The young might be taken and used for any lawful purpose but the older was not to be brought into a state of captivity. All these creatures are objects of God’s particular care and provision and it cannot be well with us if we treat them without consideration and feeling. Everything contrary to the spirit of kindness and mercy God abhors. Note the reward – same as in Deuteronomy 5:16,33
8 When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence.
Houses in the east are in general built with flat roofs and on them men walk to enjoy the fresh air, to converse, and to sleep. The battlement or balustrade was to prevent person from falling off. The Lord expects His people to be thoughtful and considerate of others’ in building a house they were to think not only of themselves and their convenience but also of the safety of others. If a man neglected this law and the death of another was occasioned by it, the owner of the house was considered in the light of a murderer. These rules show us what man is capable of if left to himself (Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19). These rules also show us the way in which God provides and plans for everything connected with His people. Nothing is too trivial for His care and planning. The divine presence in their midst was to govern their private habits as well as their outward deeds (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19).
9 Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled.
[divers – different or separate types of seeds.]
10 Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.
11 Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.
[divers – different, diverse]
Some suppose that mixtures of different sorts in seed and breed, etc., were employed for superstitious purposes (Leviticus 19:19). Perhaps there was also a physical reason for these laws – two beasts of separate species cannot comfortably associate together and work together. However the general design of these laws was to prevent improper alliances in civil and religious life. To this Paul seems to refer in 2 Corinthians 6:14. This is simply to be understood as prohibiting all intercourse between Christians and idolaters in social, matrimonial, and religious life. To teach the Jews this important
lesson, a variety of precepts relative to mixtures were placed in the law so that they might ever have this truth before their eyes an in their thinking…. verse 9: “seed” – the Word of God – the only proper material for the spiritual workman to use (Luke 8:11).
12 Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself.
[Num 15:38, Matt 23:5]
these verses present prohibitions that are not moral in nature and are nowhere repeated or re-emphasised in the NT – thus we can find no basis for which to apply these types of verses to the NT Christian. This is not a matter of picking and choosing what we want to believe and apply to us and neglecting the rest; it is a matter of dividing the word of truth correctly (II Tim. 2:15), operating upon the principle that the commands that apply to the NT believer are those moral commands that transcend time or any other command specifically emphasised to the church in the NT.
13 If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,
14 And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid:
15 Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate:
16 And the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;
17 And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.
18 And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him;
19 And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.
[amerce = to inflict a monetary penalty]
20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:
21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.
22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.
23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;
[betrothed – contracted for future marriage; expoused]
24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.
25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die:
26 But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:
27 For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.
28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.
30 A man shall not take his father’s wife, nor discover his father’s skirt.
[Lev 18:8, Lev 20:11 Deut 27:20 1st Cor 5:1]
Punishment for unchastity.
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.
Verse 1-4 – If we duly regard the golden rule of “doing to others as we would they should do unto us,” many particular precepts might be omitted. We can have no property in any thing that we find. Religion teaches us to be neighbourly, and to be ready to do all good offices to all men. We know not how soon we may have occasion for help.
Verse 5-12 – God’s providence extends itself to the smallest affairs, and his precepts do so, that even in them we may be in the fear of the Lord, as we are under his eye and care. Yet the tendency of these laws, which seem little, is such, that being found among the things of God’s law, they are to be accounted great things. If we would prove ourselves to be God’s people, we must have respect to his will and to his glory, and not to the vain fashions of the world. Even in putting on our garments, as in eating or in drinking, all must be done with a serious regard to preserve our own and others’ purity in heart and actions. Our eye should be single, our heart simple, and our behaviour all of a piece.
Verse 13-30 – These and the like regulations might be needful then, and yet it is not necessary that we should curiously examine respecting them. The laws relate to the seventh commandment, laying a restraint upon fleshly lusts which war against the soul.