Bible Commentary

Deuteronomy 24

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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Verse 1

[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.

Some uncleanness — Some hateful thing, some distemper of body or quality of mind not observed before marriage: or some light carriage, as this phrase commonly signifies, but not amounting to adultery.

Let him write — This is not a command as some of the Jews understood it, nor an allowance and approbation, but merely a permission of that practice for prevention of greater mischiefs, and this only until the time of reformation, till the coming of the Messiah when things were to return to their first institution and purest condition.

Verse 4

[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.

May not — This is the punishment of his levity and injustice in putting her away without sufficient cause, which by this offer he now acknowledgeth.

Defiled — Not absolutely, as if her second marriage were a sin, but with respect to her first husband, to whom she is as a defiled or unclean woman, that is, forbidden 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 — Thou shalt not suffer such lightness to be practised, lest the people be polluted, and the land defiled and accursed by that means.

Verse 5

[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.

Business — Any publick office or employment, which may cause an absence from or neglect of his wife.

One year — That their affections may be firmly settled, so as there may be no occasions for the divorces last mentioned.

Verse 6

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

Mill-stone — Used in their hand-mills. Under this, 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.

Life — His livelihood, the necessary support of his life.

Verse 10

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

Thou shalt not go in — To prevent both the poor man's reproach by having his wants exposed, and the creditor's greediness which might be occasioned by the sight of something which he desired, and the debtor could not spare.

Verse 11

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

The pledge — He shall chuse what pledge he pleases, provided it be sufficient for the purpose.

Verse 12

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

Thou shalt not sleep — But restore it before night, which intimates that he should take no such thing for pledge, without which a man cannot sleep.

Verse 13

[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.

Bless thee — 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.

It shall be right — Esteemed and accepted by God as a work of righteousness, or mercy.

Verse 15

[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.

At this day — At the time appointed, weekly or daily.

Verse 16

[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.

Not put to death — If the one be free from the guilt of the others sin, except in those cases where the sovereign Lord of life and death, before whom none is innocent, hath commanded it, as Deuteronomy 13:1-18; Joshua 7:24. For though God do visit the father's sins upon the children, Exodus 20:5, yet he will not suffer men to do so.

Verse 17

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

Raiment — Not such as she hath daily and necessary use of, as being poor. But this concerns not rich persons, nor superfluous raiment.

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