Deuteronomy Chapter 23


Who are shut out from the congregation. (Verse 1-8.)

Cleanliness enjoined. (Verse 15-25.)

Of fugitive servants, Usury, and other precepts. (Verse 9-14.)

1 He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.

2 A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.

3 An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:

[Matt 5:43]

4 Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.

5 Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.

6 Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.

[Matt 5:43]

7 Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land.

[abhor – to shrink from with dread; lothe; detest]

8 The children that are begotten of them shall enter into the congregation of the LORD in their third generation.

[Gen 36:6]

That which God abhors cannot remain in His camp. The persons here designated should not be incorporated with the Jews as to partake of their civil privileges

9 When the host goeth forth against thine enemies, then keep thee from every wicked thing.

10 If there be among you any man, that is not clean by reason of uncleanness that chanceth him by night, then shall he go abroad out of the camp, he shall not come within the camp:

[abroad – outdoors; away from home; scattered about]

11 But it shall be, when evening cometh on, he shall wash himself with water: and when the sun is down, he shall come into the camp again.

12 Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad:

[abroad – outdoors; away from home; scattered about]

13 And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:

God was even careful to discuss to his people the need for proper toilet facilities and sanitation practices; in a day and age of open sewers and frequent disease, God’s people avoided much of this filth because of God’s commands

14 For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.

They were cautioned against wickedness when they went forth against their enemies in order that the camp might be kept free from every defilement. All this was necessary because God was in the midst.

15 Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee:

16 He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.

This probably refers to a servant who had left an idolatrous master that he might join himself to God and His people. In any other case it would have been injustice to have harbored the runaway slave.

17 There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.

18 Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

compare the verses 17 & 18 and note how God refers to “sodomites” (homosexuals) as “dogs”; the only other humans compared to dogs in scripture are false prophets in II Peter 2:22 and Gentiles in a rather broad manner – see Matt. 15:26. Whether we agree with such a title is immaterial – it merely serves to show God’s disgust at this sin.

Many public prostitutes dedicated to their gods a part of their impure earnings. These were an abomination to the Lord. Probably Micah referred to this in Micah 1:7

19 Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:

[Ex 22:25, Lev 25:36, Neh 5:7, Ps 15:5, Prov 28:8, Jer 15:10, Eze 18:13, Eze 22:12, Matt 25:27, Luke 19:23]

20 Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

Love and mercy were to govern them not the desire for gain (Leviticus 25:35-38)

21 When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.

[Ex 20:7, Num 30:2, Lev 19:12, Matt 5:33]

22 But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee.

23 That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.

Vows must be diligently paid (Numbers 30; Ecclesiastes 5:4,5).

24 When thou comest into thy neighbour’s vineyard, then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill at thine own pleasure; but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel.

25 When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour’s stand corm.

[Matt 12:1, Mark 2:23]

In passing through a vineyard or a field a man might eat of the grain or corn but could not carry any away with him. It was on the permission granted by this law that the disciples plucked the ears of corn as related in Matthew 12:1. This was a considerate and humane law made for the traveler (Deuteronomy 24:19-22). Jewish commentaries limit this law to harvest laborers.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Verse 1-8 – We ought to value the privileges of God’s people, both for ourselves and for our children, above all other advantages. No personal blemishes, no crimes of our forefathers, no difference of nation, shuts us out under the Christian dispensation. But an unsound heart will deprive us of blessings; and a bad example, or an unsuitable marriage, may shut our children from them.

Verse 9-14 – The camp of the Lord must have nothing offensive in it. If there must be this care taken to preserve the body clean, much more should we be careful to keep the mind pure.

Verse 15-25 – It is honourable to shelter and protect the weak, provided they are not wicked. Proselytes and converts to the truth, should be treated with particular tenderness, that they may have no temptation to return to the world. We cannot honour God with our substance, unless it be honestly and honourably come by. It must not only be considered what we give, but how we got it. Where the borrower gets, or hopes to get, it is just that the lender should share the gain; but to him that borrows for necessary food, pity must be showed. That which is gone out of thy lips, as a solemn and deliberate vow, must not be recalled, but thou shalt keep and perform it punctually and fully. They were allowed to pluck and eat of the corn or grapes that grew by the road side; only they must not carry any away. This law intimated what great plenty of corn and wine they should have in Canaan. It provided for the support of poor travellers, and teaches us to be kind to such, teaches us to be ready to distribute, and not to think every thing lost that is given away. Yet it forbids us to abuse the kindness of friends, or to take advantage of what is allowed. Faithfulness to their engagements should mark the people of God; and they should never encroach upon others.