Deuteronomy 25

 

 

LAWS RELATING TO CORPORAL PUNISHMENT (vs. 1-3)

 

The first and second verses should be read as one sentence, of which the protasis

is in v.1 and the apodosis in v. 2.

 

1 “If there be a controversy between men, and they (i.e. the judges)  come unto

judgment, that  the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous,

and condemn  the wicked.  2  And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be

beaten - (literally, be the son of blows), that  the judge shall cause him to lie down,

and to be beaten before his face,” – It is assumed that the judges shall pronounce

just judgment, and apportion to the guilty party his due punishment; and then it is

prescribed how that is to be inflicted. In the presence of the judge the man was to be

cast down, and the adjudged number of blows were to be given him, not, however,

exceeding forty, lest the man should be rendered contemptible in the eyes of the

people, as if he were a mere slave or brute. This punishment was usually inflicted with

a stick (Exodus 21:20; II Samuel 7:14), as is still the case among the Arabs and

Egyptians (not so long ago, we heard of a caning in China and a lot of the liberals

In the USA were upset – it is as if the only way to pacify progressivism in America

is to let the guilty go unpunished.  This will change when we all face God in the

Judgment!!!!!!!!!! – CY – 2012); sometimes they were punished with thorns

(Judges 8:7, 16); sometimes with whips and scorpions, i.e. scourges of cord or

leather armed with sharp points or hard knots (I Kings 12:11,14). Though the

culprit was laid on the ground, it does not appear that the bastinado was used

among the Jews as it is now among the Arabs; the back and shoulders were the

parts of the body on which the blows fell (Proverbs 10:13; 19:29; 26:3; Isaiah 50:6) -

according to his fault, by a certain number.” - literally, according to the

 requirement of his crime in number; i.e. according as his crime deserved. The

number was fixed at forty, probably because of the symbolical significance of that

number as a measure of completeness. The rabbins fixed the number at thirty-nine,

apparently in order that the danger of exceeding the number prescribed by

the Law should be diminished (compare II Corinthians 11:24); but another

reason is assigned by Maimonides, viz. that, as the instrument of punishment was

a scourge with three tails, each stroke counted for three, and thus they could not

give forty, but only thirty-nine, unless they exceeded the forty (Maimon., ‘In

Sanhedrin,’ 17:2).

 

3 “Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should

exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother

should seem vile unto thee.”

 

 

 

 

Corporal Punishment (vs. 1-3)

 

We have here directions given for the punishment of criminals. As the Hebrews had no

gaol system, a properly graduated corporal punishment supplied most effectively its

place. Moses here directs the judges to look carefully into the case, and to assign a

certain number of stripes, which are never to exceed forty, the chastisement being

given in the presence of the judge. Thus the largest measure of equity was introduced

into their penal system.

 

  • RETRIBUTION OF SOME KIND IS CONSONANT WITH OUR

IDEAS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. To be allowed to sin with impunity

would be, we all feel, an immoral regulation under any government, and

especially immoral under a theocracy. Punishment for sin is demanded by

the human conscience. All quarrel with retribution as such argues

 A WANT OF CONSCIOUSNESS!

 

  • BUT RETRIBUTION SHOULD BE PROPORTIONAL TO SIN.

This is what the law before us secured. The stripes were to be few or many,

according to the crime, but never to exceed forty. The judgment was to be

righteous and equitable all through.

 

  • INSTEAD OF BANDYING ABOUT ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF

RELIEF UNDER PUNISHMENT, IT WOULD BE KINDER FOR

CONTROVERSIALISTS TO INDUCE MEN THROUGH FAITH IN

JESUS CHRIST TO ACCEPT OF PARDON AND SO ESCAPE

PENALTY.   The spectacle at present is A SAD ONE!  Liberal journalists

are pursuing the phantom of  leniency for sins and punishment in this life,

instead of urging their fellows TO FLEE AT ONCE  TO JESUS CHRIST

AS THE ONLY REFUGE!   This much is certain, “Him that cometh unto

 me,” says Christ, “I will in no wise cast out.”  Let men come to Jesus, and

the question of punishment, so far as they are concerned, is settled forever.

Punishment gives way to pardon; while at the same time, it is felt that the sin has

not gone unpunished since Christ died for you and it.  He was made “to be

sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness

of God in Him.”  (II Corinthians 5:21)

 

 

4 “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.”

The leaving the ox unmuzzled when treading out the corn was in order that the

animal might be free to eat of the grains which its labor severed from the husks.

This prohibition, therefore, was dictated by a regard to the rights and claims of

animals employed in labor; but there is involved in it the general principle that all

labor is to be duly requited, (I remember in my early days on the farm, that

work hands who helped were always fed a good meal at midday – “The

laborer is worthy of his hire.”  - I Timothy 5:18) - CY – 2012) and hence

it seems to have passed into a proverb,  and was applied to men as  well as

the lower animals (I Corinthians 9:9; I Timothy 5:18).

 

 

LEVIRATE MARRIAGES (vs. 5-10)

 

If a man who was married died without issue, his surviving brother was required

to marry the widow, so as to raise up a successor to the deceased, who should

be his heir. The brother who refused this duty must be publicly disgraced. The

design of this institution — which was not originated by Moses, but came down

from early times (Genesis 38:7-10), and is to be found amongst ether nations than

the Jews, and that even in the present day — was to preserve a family from

becoming extinct and to secure the property of a family from passing into

the hands of a stranger.

 

5 “If brethren dwell together,” -  i.e. not necessarily in the same house, but in

the same community or place (compare Genesis 13:6; 26:7) - “and one of them die,

and have no child,” - literally, have no son; but this is rightly interpreted as meaning

child (so the LXX.; Vulgate; Josephus, ‘Antiq.,’ 4:8, 23; Matthew 22:23-32); for, if

the deceased left a daughter, the perpetuation of the family and the retention of the

property might be secured through her (compare Numbers 27:1-11) -“the wife of

the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall

go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an

husband’s brother unto her.”

 

6 “And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed

in the name of his brother which is dead,” - literally, shall rise up on the

 name of his deceased brother; i.e. shall be enrolled in the family register as

heir of the deceased, and shall perpetuate his name -“that his name be not

put out of Israel.”

 

7 “And if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s

wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother

refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform

the duty of my husband’s brother.  8 Then the elders of his city shall call him,

and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her;

9  Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders,

and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and

say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house.

10  And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe

loosed.”  If the man refused to marry the widow of his deceased brother, he was free

to do so; but the woman had her redress. She was to bring the matter before the

elders of the town, sitting as magistrates at the gate, and they were to summon the

man and speak to him, and if he persisted in his refusal, the woman was to take his

shoe from off his foot, and spit before his face, and say, So shall it be done unto

 that man that will not build up his brother’s house. The taking off of the

shoe of the man by the woman was an act of indignity to him; it amounted to a

declaration that he was not worthy to stand in his brother’s place, and was

scornfully rejected by the woman herself. As the planting of the shod foot

on a piece of property, or the casting of the shoe over a field, was emblematical

of taking possession of it with satisfaction (Psalm 108:9); and as the voluntary

handing of one’s shoe to another betokened the giving up to that other of some

property or right; so, contrariwise, the forcible removal from one of his shoe and

the casting of it aside indicated contemptuous rejection of the owner, and repudiation

of all his rights and claims in the matter. To walk barefooted was regarded by the

Jews as ignominious and miserable (compare Isaiah 20:2, 4; II Samuel 15:30). The

spitting before the face of the man (wyn"p;B] in front of him) is by the Jewish

interpreters understood of spitting on the ground in his presence (Talmud,

Jebam.,’ 106; Madmen., ‘In Jibbum.,’ 4:6-8). This seems to be what the

words express (see ch. 7:24; 11:25; Joshua 10:8; Ezekiel 10:8, for the

rendering of ynpb); and this, according to Oriental notions, would be insult

enough (Numbers 12:14; Isaiah 50:6; ).

 

11 “When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the

one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him

that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the

secrets:  12 Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her.”

But though the childless widow might thus approach and lay hold on the man,

no license was thus granted to women to pass beyond the bounds of decency

in their approaches to the other sex. Hence the prohibition in these verses.

The severe sentence here prescribed was by the rabbins commuted into a fine

of the value of the hand.

 

 

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES (vs. 13-16)

 

Rectitude and integrity in trade are here anew inculcated (compare Leviticus 19:35-37).

 

13 “Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small.

14 Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small.

15 But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure

shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the

LORD thy God giveth thee.”  - Diverse weights; literally, a stone and a stone –

 a large one for buying, and a small one for selling (compare Amos 8:5). Both

weights and measures were to be “perfect,” i.e. exactly correct, and so just.

(On the promise in  v. 15, see ch. 4:26; 5:16.)

 

16 “For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously,” – (equivalent

to all that transgress any law) - “are an abomination unto the LORD thy God.”

 (Compare ch. 22:5)   (There is no telling to how much men have lost or suffered

because of tricky and unjust dealings when trading with men.  God has gotten

involved in their wicked lives.  The Bible teaches “the way of the transgressors

is hard” – Proverbs 13:15 – CY – 2012)

 

 

Righteousness in Trade Imperative (vs. 13-16)

 

These four verses give us one of the most important in the range of human ethics. It

furnishes six lines of thought:

 

  • In the providence of God men are thrown together for the purposes of trade.

 

  • Opportunity is thus furnished for the exercise of right principles of mutual

justice and equity.

 

  • There is often given an opportunity also of taking advantage of others by

unequal weights and measures.

 

  • God requires of us absolute justice to others, always and everywhere.

 

  • No false maxims of men, such as “business is business,” can ever

exonerate us from obligations to justice.

 

  • Our duty to man in this respect is enforced by a double argument.

 

Ø      The neglect of it is an abomination to God (v. 16).

 

Ø      The observance of it will tend to long life, prosperity,

and peace (v.15).

 

 

Religion Inspires Commercial Life (vs. 13-16)

 

It is certain that God displays the liveliest interest in every department of human life.

He is not only the God of the hills; He is God of the valleys also. He takes cognizance,

not only of great things, but also of small. Can any man tell us what are small things?

Not only on the portal of every church, but on the forefront of every shop — ay, on

the beam of every balance, we ought to see the inscription, “TO THE GLORY

OF GOD ALONE!”

 

  • RELIGION CLAIMS A THRONE IN EVERY SHOP. True religion is

the sunny smile from God’s eye, and, as the common light of day

penetrates into every nook and cranny of nature, so the light of God’s love

pierces into every interest of human life. It is not a romantic something

which has merely to do with the region of existence beyond the grave; it is

the life of cur present life — the secret spring of every duty. Ordinary

trade is a splendid field for the practical exercise of religious virtues, because

the commercial activities of the age afford large facilities either for fidelity or

for fraud. In every office and warehouse religion claims to set up her

throne. In the smallest act of buying and selling she insists on having a

voice.

 

  • RELIGION GOES TO THE ROOT OF THINGS — DETERMINES

THE STANDARDS OF HUMAN ACTION. If the weight or measure be

false, then every transaction will be false. Ingenious wickedness had

invented two sets of standards — an over-large one for the man as buyer,

an under-size for the same man as seller. This course of vile procedure

carried the villainy into every item of the man’s mercantile life. It is of the

first importance that we set up right standards. The Pharisee in the temple

was a perfect man, according to his standard. The rich young man who

came to Jesus Christ for counsel was blameless, according to his standard.

Men are prone to set up conventional standards, and measure themselves

and every one else according to their rule. Take heed that your standard is

Gods standard, “A PERFECT AND JUST MEASURE!”

 

  • RELIGION IS BOTH DESTRUCTIVE AND CONSTRUCTIVE.

Thou shalt not have this; thou shalt have that.” It first pulls down, then

builds up. It first uproots, then plants. “Mortify your members, then add to

your virtues.” The old must be destroyed; the new must be sown and

nursed. In our self-culture and in our training of others, it is not enough

that we are repressive and prohibitive; the new growths will often cast off

effete and injurious matter. Prune away barren boughs; encourage the

development of the fruitful wood.

 

  • RELIGION BRINGS COLLATERAL GAINS IN THIS LIFE. Her

main reward is in the future, viz. possession of the Divine image;

nevertheless, she confers many solid favors here and now. (godliness is

profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is,

and of that which is to come” (I Timothy 4:8).  Real pleasure is

her daily gift, and length of days” is her special prize. “Deceitful

men shall not live out half their days” ( Psalm 55:23), they die

prematurely. Nor is long life on earth to be despised. There are, doubtless,

 moral advantages and gains obtainable in this life, which are not obtainable

in the life to come. Many of the means of discipline and pruning and

reformation will end with this life.  We are placed here for probation; and

(if well-used) long school-life is an advantage unspeakable. To be esteemed

by God as “the apple of His eye” (I have heard this explained as the

upside down image one sees as a reflection in the eye!  - CY – 2012) is

better than an earthly coronet. To be regarded by Him as “abomination”

is concentrated curse.”

 

 

Honesty the Best Policy (vs. 13-16)

 

No blessing from God can rest upon dishonest trading. If His blessing is to be

experienced, it must be by a policy of honesty all round.

 

  • IT IS APPARENTLY EASY TO MAKE MONEY BY LIGHT

WEIGHTS AND SHORT MEASURES. It is not only securing the

ordinary profits, but gaining by the deficiency palmed off for the perfect

measure. It is a gain by quantity as well as by price. And plenty of people

who look only at the surface imagine that they can easily enrich themselves

by a little dishonesty, which will never be detected. Inspectors of weights

and measures are the embodiment of the suspicions of society.

 

  • IT IS A SYSTEM OF BUSINESS UPON WHICH NO DIVINE

BLESSING CAN BE ASKED. No better test of the propriety of our

procedure can be found than this. Will it stand the test of prayer?

Can God, the All-Holy One, be expected to bless it? Now, His whole

Word shows that such practices are abominations to Him.

 

  • NO TEMPORARY SUCCESS CAN COMPENSATE FOR AN

UNEASY CONSCIENCE. Suppose that success waited on dishonesty

invariably and proved lasting, life would be made miserable by the uneasy

conscience. Stifled for a time, it rises like the furies at last, and makes life a

lasting misery. No man ever trifled with conscience and did not suffer

for it. Success becomes in such a case but a whited sepulcher; the experience

within is but the rottenness of the tomb.

 

  • HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY FOR PERSONAL PEACE AND

FOR DIVINE BLESSING. We say that no man should so far outrage his

conscience as to be dishonest. Honesty is a policy to be pursued for its own

sake, as the only condition of personal peace. Were there no Divine

blessing in question at all, conscientious men would be as honest as they

are now. At the same time, it makes the honesty all the happier that it lies

in the sunshine of the Infinite Presence, and that his radiant smile is

on it. There is no danger of a mercenary spirit entering into such a relation

with God. He so wraps us round that in His circle of love it would be most

ungrateful and most dissonant to practice dishonesty.  With people under a

theocracy, or reign of God, we should expect to find just weights and full

 measures. The visits of the inspectors should prove superfluous with all

those whose life lies open as the day to the inspection of their KING!

 

 

Whilst in their intercourse with each other the law of love and brotherly kindness

was to predominate, it was to be otherwise in regard to the enemies of God and

His people. Them they were to overcome by force; wickedness was to be removed

by the extinction of the wicked.  Moses has already repeatedly reminded the

Israelites that they had utterly to destroy the wicked nations of Canaan; and he here

closes this discourse by reminding them that there was a nation outside of Canaan

which was also doomed, and which they were to root out. This was Amalek, which

had attacked the Israelites in their journey at Rephidim, and had taken advantage

of their exhausted condition to harass their rear and destroy those who, faint and

weary, had lagged behind. For this they had been already punished by the Israelites,

who, led on by Joshua, had turned upon them and discomfited them with the edge

of the sword. This, however, was not enough; Amalek was to be utterly destroyed,

and this the Israelites were to effect as soon as the Lord had given them rest in the

Promised Land. It was not, however, till the time of David that this was done.

 

 

17 “Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come

forth out of Egypt;18  How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost

of thee,” - literally, and tailed thee; i.e. cut off thy tail, or rear. The verb (bNezi)

occurs only here and in Joshua 10:19. It is a denominative from bn;z;, a tail, and,

like many denominatives, both in the Hebrew and in other languages, it has the sense

of taking away or cutting off the thing expressed by the noun from which it

is formed, like the English verb to skin, for example - “even all that were feeble

behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God.

19 Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest

from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD

thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt

blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou

shalt not forget it.”

 

 

      Kindness to Enemies is not to Degenerate into Sympathy with

or Indifference to Ungodliness (vs. 17-19)

 

God is kind. God is terrible. When he riseth up against sin to punish it

openly, who — who can stand? The repeated injunctions in this book, of

kindness to enemies, the prohibitions against private revenge, etc., should

effectually guard any against attributing to Moses any incitement of the people

to revengeful retaliation. He utters a prophecy, as a prophet. In Exodus 17:16,

the LXX. read, ejn ceiri< krufai>a| - en cheiri kruphaia  “by an unseen hand

the Lord will war against Amalek.” In Numbers 24:20, Balaam foretells Amalek’s

doom. In 1 Samuel 15., the execution of judgment on Amalek is recorded; and

thus is the meaning of our present paragraph explained.

 

Note:

 

  • It is a very dangerous thing for a nation to harass or injure the people of

God.

 

  • Such a nation may seem to prosper a while, but judgment is “laid up in

store.”

 

  • The retribution will come sooner or later in God’s wonder-working

providence. “Their feet shall slide in due time.”  (ch. 32:35)

 

  • Whatever sympathy we may rightly feel for individual sufferers, the fact

that God will ultimately avenge His people’s wrongs may fill us with

grateful joy.

 

 

"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.

Materials are reproduced by permission."

 

This material can be found at:

http://www.adultbibleclass.com

 

If this exposition is helpful, please share with others.