Justice and the Marginalized

Deuteronomy 24:10-21

SS Lesson for 01/30/2022

 

Devotional Scripture: Lev 25:39-43

Lesson Background and Key Verse

Background from the NIV Standard Lesson Commentary

Previous lessons from this quarter focused on other aspects of God’s law: his covenant with Israel, which served as the foundation for the law, and those individuals tasked with ruling on God’s law. This lesson turns to the details of God’s law for Israel. These laws make up the bulk of Deuteronomy’s content and are a central theme of the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. The Hebrew word torah can mean “teaching” or “law,” specifically God’s laws for ancient Israel. These laws depicted how the Israelites were to live rightly with each other, with their neighboring peoples, and with their God. Today’s Scripture text comes from Moses’ second address in Deuteronomy to the people of Israel, with the detailed covenant stipulations that God required for his people (Deuteronomy 12:1–26:19). Moses’ address began with a detailed description of proper worship of God (12:1–16:17) and continued with descriptions of proper justice in law (16:18–20; 17:8–13), regulations regarding the handling of violent acts (19:1–21:23), and issues of marriage (22:13–30), among other things, as God provided an ordered description of a new society. For Israel, part of being God’s covenant people was the just and proper treatment of poor and otherwise marginalized individuals. Previously, Moses had reminded the Israelites that poor people would always be part of the population (Deuteronomy 15:11; compare John 12:18). As a result, Moses commanded an openhanded policy toward these individuals, requiring generous giving without resentment (Deuteronomy 15:10). Today’s Scripture expands on this theme.

 

Key Verse: Deut 24:18

But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this thing.

 

Commentary from the Bible Knowledge Commentary

24:1-4. Divorce was widespread in the ancient Near East. However, the Old Testament always regarded divorce as a tragedy (cf. Mal. 2:16). The commands in Deuteronomy 24:1-4, then, were given to regulate an already existing practice. The something indecent, which a husband might find in his wife, cannot refer to adultery for which the penalty was death (22:22). Nor can the indecency refer to the wife’s premarital intercourse with another man for which the penalty was also death (22:20-21). The precise meaning of the phrase is unknown. If a man found something indecent, the certificate of divorce he wrote was apparently given to the woman for her protection under the law. If after being divorced she remarried and then her second husband divorced her or died, her first husband was not permitted to remarry her since she had been defiled. The word translated “defiled” was also used to describe a man who had committed adultery (Lev. 18:20). So the use of this word to describe a woman who had been divorced and remarried to the same man suggests that divorce was viewed in a negative light even though Moses permitted it. A remarriage to her former husband would be tantamount to a legal adultery and therefore detestable to the Lord (see Deut. 23:18). The purpose of this law seems to be to prevent frivolous divorce, and to present divorce itself in a disparaging light. Jesus’ interpretation of this passage indicated that divorce (like polygamy) went against the divine ideal for marriage (see comments on Matt. 19:3-9).

24:5. Like the preceding law (vv. 1-4) this one also emphasized the importance of marriage and the family. It was considered rather heartless to send a recently married man to war (cf. 20:7). If he were killed in combat he would probably have no posterity to preserve his name in Israel (on the significance of this see 25:5-10). Also a newly married man was to be free of other responsibilities in order to have time to adjust to and bring happiness to his wife.

24:6. Millstones were used daily in homes to grind grain in preparing meals. To take both or one of these as collateral for a debt would in effect deprive a man of his daily bread (livelihood) and therefore contradict the spirit of generosity which should have motivated the lender in the first place.

24:7. Apparently the crime of kidnapping was common in the ancient Near East for it was also mentioned in the law codes of Mesopotamia and the Hittite Empire. Since the kidnapper was depriving his victim of his freedom (by taking him as a slave or selling him), the kidnapper was to be punished by death—as though he had taken the victim’s life. This was another of several crimes deserving capital punishment. On the purging of evil, see 13:5.

24:8-9. The Hebrew word translated leprous diseases referred to a broad range of skin diseases, not exclusively to leprosy (niv. marg.). Instead of repeating the legislation concerning these diseases Moses referred the people to his original instruction (what I have commanded the priests) in Leviticus 13-14. Motivation to obey this ceremonial legislation was furnished by Miriam who because she opposed Moses was struck with leprosy (Num. 12).

24:10-11. The dignity of the borrower was preserved by prohibiting the lender to enter his house and take anything he might want as a pledge.

24:12-13. If the borrower was so poor that all he could offer as a pledge was his cloak (which served as a blanket at night) then the lender was to return it before nightfall (cf. Ex. 22:26-27; Job 22:6). By acting in this manner the lender was loving his neighbor as himself.

24:14-15. A hired man who was poor needed to be paid his wages each day, not weekly or monthly. The clause, he is counting on it, seems to indicate that he needed to be paid each day in order to provide food for himself and his family. It would have been easy for a wealthy employer to withhold the poor man’s wages. But the employer was to remember that Israel was at one time oppressed by Pharaoh until she cried out to the Lord (cf. Ex. 2:23; 3:9). Likewise if the poor man should cry to the Lord the employer might find himself judged as Pharaoh was.

24:16. Though personal responsibility was the norm in the law codes of the ancient Near East, in some cases a son was permitted to be put to death in place of his father (e.g., Code of Hammurabi, Law 230), though again (cf. 22:22) no court records indicate that this was ever enforced. Moses forbade such a practice: each is to die for his own sin (cf. Num. 14:26-35). It was true, however, that a father who rebelled against the Lord might influence his descendants to do the same (see Deut. 5:9).

24:17-18. Aliens, the fatherless, and widows (cf. vv. 19-21) could easily be oppressed in the courts and by the wealthy. But needy people in Israel were to be treated with love and justice (cf. 10:18-19; 27:19) especially in light of Israel’s former oppression by Pharaoh and her deliverance from Egypt (15:15; 24:22). If the nation failed to act righteously in this regard God might judge them as He did Pharaoh. On taking a widow’s cloak... as a pledge see verses 12-13.

24:19-22. This law to leave some grain (barley and wheat), olives, and grapes made it possible for aliens, the fatherless, and widows to glean during harvesttime (cf. Lev. 23:22). In this way the needy were not reduced to the humiliation of begging or seeking welfare. They could still work for their food. Also farmers were given opportunity to express their gratitude to the Lord for His abundant provision and His love for poorer members in the covenant community.

 


Major Theme Analysis

(Scriptural Text from the New King James Version; cross-references from the NIV)

Justice in Lending (Deut 24:10-13)

 

10 "When you lend your brother anything, you shall not go into his house to get his pledge.

11 You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you lend shall bring the pledge out to you.

12 And if the man is poor, you shall not keep his pledge overnight.

13 You shall in any case return the pledge to him again when the sun goes down, that he may sleep in his own garment and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before the Lord your God.

 

Respecting the person (10-11)

Respect elders because they are the under-shepherds for God (1 Peter 5:1-4)

1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers — not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Respect those who work hard among Christians (1 Thess 5:12-13)

12 Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.

We owe respect to every one (Rom 13:7)

7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Show proper respect to everyone (1 Peter 2:17)

17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

Respect to the leaders of the family (1 Tim 3:4)

4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.

 

Respecting the pledge (12-13)

Pledges must be kept (Eccl 5:4)

4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.

Never be slow about fulfilling our pledges (Deut 23:21)

21 If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin.

Keep pledges even when it hurts (Ps 15:2-4)

2 He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart 3 and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, 4 who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts,

Never be hastily or rash in giving a pledge (Prov 20:25)

25 It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider his vows.

 

Justice in Labor (Deut 24:14-15)

 

14 "You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates.

15 Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to the Lord, and it be sin to you.

 

Oppression forbidden (14)

Oppression of the weak (Ps 12:5)

5 "Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise," says the Lord. "I will protect them from those who malign them."

Oppression that has no comfort (Eccl 4:1)

4 Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed —  and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors —  and they have no comforter.

Oppression that brings destruction upon the wicked (Isa 30:12-14)

12 Therefore, this is what the Holy One of Israel says: "Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, 13 this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. 14 It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern."

Oppression of the widows, fatherless and aliens (Zech 7:9-10)

9 "This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.'

Oppression brings the judgment of God (Mal 3:5)

5 "So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me," says the Lord Almighty.

 

Honest wages (15)

Honesty comes from God (Prov 16:11)

11 Honest scales and balances are from the Lord; all the weights in the bag are of his making.

God is pleased with honesty (1 Chron 29:17)

17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.

God rewards honesty (Luke 16:10-11)

10 "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?

It should be a goal to be honest before God and man (Acts 24:16)

16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.

Great pains should be taken to be honest (2 Cor 8:19-21)

19 What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. 20 We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. 21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.

 

Justice in Relationships (Deut 24:16-18)

 

16 "Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin.

17 "You shall not pervert justice due the stranger or the fatherless, nor take a widow's garment as a pledge.

18 But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this thing.

 

Relationships within family (16)

The family should be committed to becoming mature in Christ (Deut 4:9)

9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

The family should praise and be committed to each other (Prov 31:27-28)

27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

The family should seek and be committed to unity (Ps 133:1)

1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

The family should be committed to God (Acts 10:1-2)

1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.

God sees the family as one flesh (Gen 2:23-24)

23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man." 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

 

Relationships with helpless (17)

Be kind to the helpless and poor (Prov 19:17)

17 He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.

Share resources with the helpless (Isa 58:6-7)

6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter —  when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Supplying needs out of our abundance (2 Cor 8:14-15)

14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, 15 as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.

Not forgetting to do good to the helpless (Heb 13:16)

16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Always supporting the helpless (James 1:27)

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

 

 

Relationships with mercy (18)

Not being merciful is sin (Prov 14:21)

21 He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.

God desires for us to be merciful to others (Isa 58:6-8)

6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter —  when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

We must be merciful or we will not receive mercy from God (Matt 6:14-15)

14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Mercy is commanded for Christians (Eph 4:32)

32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13)

13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

 

Justice with Resources (Deut 24:19-21)

 

19 "When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

20 When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.

21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.

 

Be generous (19)

Generous by having regard for the weak (Ps 41:1)

1 Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble.

Generous by giving beyond our ability (2 Cor 8:1-3)

1 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,

Generous by supplying the needs of God's people (2 Cor 9:12)

12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

Generous by doing good as the opportunity presents itself (Gal 6:10)

10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Generosity brings God’s blessings (Prov 22:9)

9 A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.

 

Don’t be greedy (20)

Greed through using unrighteousness and injustice (Jer 22:13-14)

13 "Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his countrymen work for nothing, not paying them for their labor. 14 He says, 'I will build myself a great palace with spacious upper rooms.' So he makes large windows in it, panels it with cedar and decorates it in red.

Greed through property gained using fraud (Mic 2:2)

2 They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them. They defraud a man of his home, a fellowman of his inheritance.

Greed through gaining illegal possessions (1 Kings 21:16-19)

16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth's vineyard. 17 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 18 "Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth's vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. 19 Say to him, 'This is what the Lord says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?' Then say to him, 'This is what the Lord says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth's blood, dogs will lick up your blood — yes, yours!'"

Greed brings trouble to the family (Prov 15:27)

27 A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live.

Greed through discontent with current possessions (Eccl 4:8)

8 There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. "For whom am I toiling," he asked, "and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?" This too is meaningless —  a miserable business!

 

Share with others (21)

Sharing with those in need (Rom 12:13)

13 Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Work to be able to share with others (Eph 4:28)

28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

Share our riches with others (1 Tim 6:17-19)

17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

God is pleased with His people who share (Heb 13:16)

16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Share with cheerfulness (2 Cor 9:7)

7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Share to support the weak (Acts 20:35)

35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

 

Conclusion and Other Thoughts

Commentary Thoughts from John Gill

INTRODUCTION TO DEUTERONOMY 24

This chapter contains various laws concerning divorces, Deuteronomy 24:1; the discharge of a newly married man from war and business, Deuteronomy 24:5; about taking pledges, Deuteronomy 24:6; man stealing, Deuteronomy 24:7; the plague of leprosy, Deuteronomy 24:8; and giving servants their hire in due time, Deuteronomy 24:14; concerning doing justice in capital cases, and towards the stranger, fatherless, and widow, Deuteronomy 24:16; and of charity to the poor, in allowing them the forgotten sheaf, and the gleanings of their oliveyards and vineyards, Deuteronomy 24:19.

Verse 10

When thou dost lend thy brother anything,.... Any sum of money he stands in need of, or demanded a debt of him, as Jarchi; money he is indebted to thee, which is the sense of the Septuagint version; and he is not able to pay it, but offers something: in pawn till he can pay it:

thou shall not go into his house to fetch his pledge; which would be an exercise of too much power and authority, to go into a neighbour's house, and take what was liked; and besides, as no doubt he would take the best, so he might take that which the poor man could not spare: and indeed, according to the Jewish canons k, he could not take any pledge at all, but with the knowledge, and by the leave, of the sanhedrim, or court of judicature.

Verse 11

Thou shall stand abroad,.... Without doors, in the street, as the Targum of Jonathan, while the borrower or debtor looks out, and brings forth what he can best spare as a pledge:

and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee; now as, on the one hand, if the lender or creditor had been allowed to go in and take what he pleased for a pledge, he would choose the best; so, on the other hand, the borrower or debtor would be apt to bring the worst, what was of the least value and use; wherefore the Jews made it a rule that it should be of a middling sort, between both, lest it should be a discouragement and hinderance to lend upon pledges l.

Verse 12

And if the man [be] poor,.... Which may be thought to be the case of everyone that gives pledges for a debt he owes, or a sum of money he borrows; yet there might be a difference: some might be so very destitute of goods and raiment in their houses, that whatever they parted with was distressing to them, and they could not well do without it:

thou shalt not sleep with his pledge; nor keep it a night; but deliver it to him, before he went to bed, and laid himself down to sleep.

Verse 13

In any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again, when the sun goeth down,.... If it was a night covering, as Jarchi remarks; but if it was his day clothes, he was to return it in the morning, when the sun arose; and this was to be done every day, which resist occasion a great deal of trouble, and the pledge of little use; so that it seems as though they might as well be without it as have it, and lend freely; but the Jews say, that there was an advantage by it; for it is said in answer to such a question,

"of what profit is the pledge? by this means the debt is not released on the seventh year, (when all other debts were released, Deuteronomy 15:1) nor could the borrower dispose of his goods to his children, but payment was made from the pledge after his death m:''

now this delivery of the pledge at sun setting was ordered,

that he may sleep in his own raiment; have his night covering to sleep in, his pillow, and bolster, and bedding to lie on, and bed clothes to cover him; and indeed the clothes they wore were made in such form, as would serve for covering to sleep in at night, as well as to wear in the day; and such is the clothing of the Arabs now, which they call "hykes".

"The usual size of them (Dr. Shaw says n), is six yards long, and five or six feet broad, serving the Arab for a complete dress in the day; and as they "sleep in their raiment", it serves likewise for his bed and covering by night:''

and bless thee: for using him so mercifully and kindly, as to return him his pledge, which is so necessary to his comfortable repose in the night; and not only will he praise him, and speak well of him for it, and give him thanks; but will pray to God to bless him in soul, body, and estate, for such kindness shown him:

and it shall be righteousness unto thee before the Lord thy God; not his justifying righteousness before God, for by the deeds of the law shall no flesh living be justified in his sight; but it shall be owned and approved of as a good and righteous action, and answerable to the intention of this law, which is, that mercy should be shown to persons in distress; in which sense the word "righteousness" is sometimes used, even for a merciful action, Psalms 112:9; so alms is called

Verse 14

Thou shall not oppress an hired servant,.... That is hired by the day, as appears by Deuteronomy 24:15; though the law may include such as are hired by the week, or month, or year; neither of whom are to be oppressed by any means, and chiefly by detaining their wages; so the Jerusalem Targum explains the phrase,

"ye shall not detain by force the hire of the hired servant;''

nor by fraud, as in James 5:4;

[that is] poor and needy; and so cannot bear the lest oppression of this kind, nor to have his wages detained from him any time, and much less wholly to be defrauded of them:

[whether he be] of thy brethren; an Israelite, and so a brother both by nation and religion:

or of thy strangers that [are] in thy land, within thy gates; Jarchi interprets this, both of proselytes of righteousness, and of proselytes of the gate; which latter are plainly described by this clause, and the former must be included; for, if proselytes of the gate are not to be oppressed, much less proselytes of righteousness, who were in all respects as Israelites, the same law was to them both. Jarchi says, the phrase "in thy land" is intended to comprehend the hire of beasts, and of vessels; and these in the Misnah o are said to be comprehended in this precept, as well as the hire of man.

Verse 15

At his day thou shalt give [him] his hire,.... At the close of the day, when his work is done, the hire agreed for must be paid him; and, by the same rule, all such that were hired by the week, month, or year, were to have their wages paid them at the day their time was up:

neither shall the sun go down upon it; it was to be paid before sun setting, or at it; see Leviticus 19:13;

for he [is] poor, and setteth his heart upon it; being poor, he cannot wait any longer for the payment of it; his personal and family wants are such as require immediate payment; and besides, he has been eagerly expecting it, and earnestly desiring it, that he may satisfy the craving necessities of himself and family; and therefore it would be a great balk and disappointment to him to have his wages detained:

lest he cry against thee to the Lord; having none to apply unto but him, who is the patron of the poor and needy, not being able to help himself, nor having interest in any to interpose on his behalf; and his cry, and the cry of his hire too, enter into the ears of the Lord of hosts, and is regarded by him, James 5:4;

and it be sin unto thee: be imputed to him, the guilt charged on him, and punishment inflicted for it.

Verse 16

The fathers shall not be put to death for the children,.... By the civil magistrates, for sins committed by them of a capital nature, and which are worthy of death:

neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers; for sins committed by them that deserve it:

every man shall be put to death for his own sin: which is but just and reasonable; see Ezekiel 18:4; which is no contradiction to Exodus 20:5; that respects what God himself would do, this what Israel, or the civil magistrates in it, should do; this is a command on Israel, as Aben Ezra observes; that the declaration of the sovereign Being, who is not bound by any law. Jarchi interprets these words differently, as that the one should not be put to death by the testimony of the other; and it is a rule with the Jews,

"that an oath of witness is taken of men, and not of women; of those that are not akin, and not of those that are nearly related p:''

on which one of the commentators observes q that such that are near akin are not fit to bear testimony, because it is written, "the father shall not be put to death for the children"; that is, for the testimony of the children. Jarchi indeed mentions the other sense, for the sins of the children, which has been given, and is undoubtedly the true sense of the text. The Targum of Jonathan gives both;

"fathers should not be put to death, neither by the testimony, nor for the sins of the children; and children shall not be put to death, neither by the testimony, nor for the sins of fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin by proper witnesses.''

Verse 17

Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, [nor] of the fatherless,.... Who are unable to defend themselves, and have but few, if any, to take their part; and therefore particular care should be taken by judges and civil magistrates to do them justice, or God will require it of them:

nor take a widow's raiment to pledge; nor anything else, as her ox or cow, Job 24:3; according to the Jewish canons r, of a widow, whether she is poor or rich, a pledge is not taken; the reason given for which is, that it would raise an ill suspicion, and cause an evil report of her among her neighbours s; and which is suggested by the Targum of Jonathan

"neither shall any of you take for a pledge the raiment of a widow, lest wicked neighbours should arise, and bring an evil report upon her, when ye return the pledge unto her.''

But no doubt a poor widow is meant, and the design of the law is mercy to her, and that she might not be distressed by taking that from her she needed.

Verse 18

But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt,.... The remembrance of which may cause sympathy with persons in distress; particularly the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow:

and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence; the Targum of Jonathan,

"the Word of the Lord thy God;''

which, as it was an act of great kindness and mercy in God to them, taught them, and laid them under obligation to show favour to their fellow creatures in distress:

therefore I command thee to do this thing: not to pervert the judgment of the stranger and fatherless, nor take a widow's raiment for a pledge; and it may be carried further into the context, and respect the laws about the pledge of the poor man, and giving the hired servant his wages in due time.

Verse 19

When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field,.... Whether barley harvest or wheat harvest, when either of them are ripe for cutting, mowing, or reaping, and are cutting down:

and hast forgot a sheaf in the field; Jarchi says the phrase "in the field" is to include standing corn, some of which is forgotten in cutting down, and so is subject to this law as well as a sheaf; and a sheaf claimed by this name is one that is forgotten both by the workman and the owner; if by the one and not by the other, it could not be so called. The canon runs thus t,

"a sheaf which the workmen forget, and not the owner, or the owner forgets, and not the workman, before which the poor stand, or is covered with straw or stubble, is not a forgotten sheaf.''

And about this they have various other rules;

"a sheaf that is near the gate (of a field), or to an heap (of sheaves), or to oxen, or to instruments, and left, the house of Shammai say it is not to be reckoned a forgotten sheaf; but the house of Hillell say it is;--two sheaves are reckoned forgotten, three are not; a sheaf in which there are two seahs (about a peck and a half), and they leave it, it is not reckoned forgotten u:''

thou shall not go again to fetch it; which supposes a remembrance of it, or some intelligence about it when at home, and after the field has been cleared, and all carried in but this sheaf; then the owner might not go nor send to fetch it: the beginnings of the rows, they say, show when a sheaf is forgotten, or not; particularly the adverse sheaf, or that over against it, shows it w; so Jarchi:

it shall be for the stranger; or proselyte; the proselyte of righteousness; of this there is no doubt, but it seems to be for the proselyte of the gate also:

for the fatherless and for the widow; which of them soever should first find it:

that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands; in the culture of their ground the next year, and give them large and fruitful crops; they either purposely leaving the sheaf for the poor, or however suffer them to take it unmolested when found by them. The Targum of Jonathan is, "that the word of the Lord thy God may bless thee", &c.

Verse 20

When thou beatest thine olive tree,.... With sticks and staves, to get off the olives when ripe:

thou shall not go over the boughs again; to beat off some few that may remain; they were not nicely to examine the boughs over again, whether there were any left or not:

it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow; who might come into their oliveyards after the trees had been beaten, and gather what were left.

Verse 21

When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard,.... Which was done much about the same time that the olives were gathered, and both after wheat harvest, about the latter end of June, or beginning of July; for they were more forward in those hot countries:

thou shall not glean [it] afterwards; go over the vines a second time, to pick off every berry or bunch that escaped them at first gathering:

it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow; as the forgotten sheaf, and the olive berries left; these are all supposed to be poor persons, otherwise no doubt there were strangers, and fatherless persons, and widows, in good circumstances; who, as they needed not, so neither would give themselves the trouble, but think it beneath them to go into fields, oliveyards, and vineyards, to gather what was left by the owners. These laws were made in favour of the poor, that mercy and kindness might be showed to them, and that they might have a taste of all the fruits of the earth.

Verse 22

And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt,.... When they would have been glad to have enjoyed the like favours, as small as they might seem to be, even to glean in their fields, vineyards, and oliveyards;

therefore I command thee to do this thing; to suffer the poor to take the forgotten sheaf, and to come into their oliveyards and vineyards, and gather what olives and grapes remained after the first beating of the one, and the ingathering of the other.

                         (Adapted from URL:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/geb/deuteronomy-24.html)

 

Concluding Thoughts from the NIV Standard Lesson Commentary

The physical needs of others confront us daily. Applying God’s principles for an ancient culture, where 98 percent of people lived on farms, to our modern culture, where only 2 percent do, is a challenge. But a common-ground starting point is that people of God in all times should live in such a way as to respect the dignity of those in need. Granted, it may take some challenging conversations and creative thinking on our part to apply these principles in specific and helpful ways. This lesson’s Scripture text provides principles of justice that each and every follower of God should model and help enact. Ignorance and want continue to manifest themselves today. Unlike Scrooge, we should not desire that injustice be hidden from our eyes. Our heavenly Father has made it clear that his heart and his compassion are with those in need. Are ours?

 

Concluding Thoughts from the Echoes Commentary

God's laws reveal His tenderness as a Father. He always looks out for, and continues to give special regard to, those coming from a foreign country, widows, and orphans.

 

Be Caring - One example, if a newcomer needed a loan, they could put up for collateral something ordinary such as clothing or a cooking stone. God forbade the person giving the loan to go inside their house, rummage around, and take something valuable. The lender treated the person in need with respect. They brought out the item of their choice and gave it to the lender. If the impoverished person's robe was put up for security, the lender had to return it at night. The poor person needed it to keep warm.

 

Be Fair - Traditionally in the Middle East during this time, a hired servant was paid by the day. The law insisted the laborer must be paid on time. Holding back a worker's wages might cause his entire family to suffer, possibly going without food for the day. This principle was to be followed for everyone—brother, fellow Israelite, or foreigner. God's laws warned, if the overseer withheld the payment and the needy person cried out to the Lord, God might punish the person who didn't pay at the end of the day. If a person commits a crime, that person is responsible. Sometimes in the Bible an entire family was disciplined for the offense of one (see Josh. 7). In each of these cases, God Himself judged and made that declaration.

 

Be Sensitive - Before entering the Promised Land, Moses repeated to this new generation the laws he had given in Exodus and Leviticus. He recalled how their parents suffered in Egypt under cruel, insensitive overseers and charged them to never repeat such an action toward foreigners, orphans, and widows.

 

Be Generous - Moses told the nation to look out for the poor. During harvest time, the harvesters were to leave some grain on the ground and allow the poor to come and pick it up. The Book of Ruth illustrates this principle beautifully. Ruth and Naomi had no property nor a field when they returned to Bethlehem. The two women might have starved to death, but the regulation saved their lives. Ruth gleaned in the field and provided for the two of them. Everyone is important to God—there is no second class in God's economy.