Deuteronomy Chapter 24


Of divorce. (Verse 1-4.)

Of new-married persons, Of man-stealers, Of pledges. (Verse 5-13.)

Of justice and generosity. (Verse 14-22.)

1 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.

[Matt 5:31, Jer 3:1, Matt 1:19, Matt 5:31, Matt 19:7 Mark 10:4]

2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.

3 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;

4 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.

Study Questions

1. What further information or revelation does Christ give concerning this passage in Matthew 5:31-32 & 19:4-9?

2. What is God’s attitude concerning divorce according to Malachi 2:15-16?

In this day and age of many failed marriages, the Biblical solution is not to soften our stand against divorce and remarriage; rather we need to take people as they are and begin from that point in teaching them to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

5 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.

Jesus referred to these laws in Matthew 5:31,32; 19:3-9. It appears that a Jew might put away his wife for any cause that seemed good to
himself and so hard were the hearts that Moses suffered this. We find they continued this practice even to the time of our Lord, who strongly reprehended them on the account and showed that such license was wholly inconsistent with the original design of marriage. Though God suffered them to put away their wives, yet He considered all after-marriages I that case to be pollution and defilement (verse 4). In the sight of God nothing can be a legal cause of separation and adultery on either side. In such a case, according to the law of God, a man may put away his wife and a wife may put away her husband for it appears that the wife had as much right to put away her husband as the husband had to put away his wife (Mark 10:12).

6 No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man’s life to pledge.

7 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.

8 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.

9 Remember what the LORD thy God did unto Miriam by the way, after that ye were come forth out of Egypt.

10 When thou dost lend thy brother any thing, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge.

[Duet 24:10]

don’t pledge (ie. use as collateral) things that are essential to one’s livelihood

11 Thou shalt stand abroad, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee.

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

Verses 6 through 22 focus on consideration for the poor. Small hand mills which can be worked by a single person were formerly in use among the Jews. As therefore the day’s meal was generally ground for each day, and there was no stock from beforehand, they were forbidden to take either of the stones to pledge because in such a case the family must be without bread. On this account the text terms the millstone the man’s life.

12 And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge:

13 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.

The man might resume his claim in the morning and have the pledge daily returned and thus keep up his property in it till the debt was discharged. The Jews in several cases did act contrary to this rule and we find them reproved for it by the prophet Amos (Amos 2:8).

14 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:

15 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.

If a servant’s pay was delayed, he would naturally be expected to cry unto God against him who withholds it.

16 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.

[2 Kings 14:6; Ezekiel 18:2-4,19-20]

17 Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow’s raiment to pledge:

[Ps 10:14,80; 146:9]

God gives special consideration to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow

18 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.

Forgetting the feelings, fears, and anxieties of the poor is the reason for pride and arrogance in the rich.

19 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.

20 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.

21 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.

the small amount of harvest left in the field for the poor of the land was called the “gleanings.”

22 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.

The corners of the field, the gleanings, and the forgotten sheaf were all the property of the poor. This the Hebrews extended to any part of the fruit or produce of the field which had been forgotten in the time of general ingathering as appears from the concluding verse of this chapter

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Verse 1-4 – Where the providence of God, or his own wrong choice in marriage, has allotted to a Christian a trial instead of a help meet; he will from his heart prefer bearing the cross, to such relief as tends to sin, confusion, and misery. Divine grace will sanctify this cross, support under it, and teach so to behave, as will gradually render it more tolerable.

Verse 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.

Verse 14-22 – It is not hard to prove that purity, piety, justice, mercy, fair conduct, kindness to the poor and destitute, consideration for them, and generosity of spirit, are pleasing to God, and becoming in his redeemed people. The difficulty is to attend to them in our daily walk and conversation.