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Laws Concerning Divorce

1“When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, 2and if she goes and becomes another man's wife, 3and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, 4then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.

Miscellaneous Laws

5“When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken.

6“No one shall take a mill or an upper millstone in pledge, for that would be taking a life in pledge.

7“If a man is found stealing one of his brothers of the people of Israel, and if he treats him as a slave or sells him, then that thief shall die. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

8“Take care, in a case of leprous11Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 disease, to be very careful to do according to all that the Levitical priests shall direct you. As I commanded them, so you shall be careful to do. 9Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam on the way as you came out of Egypt.

10“When you make your neighbor a loan of any sort, you shall not go into his house to collect his pledge. 11You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you make the loan shall bring the pledge out to you. 12And if he is a poor man, you shall not sleep in his pledge. 13You shall restore to him the pledge as the sun sets, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you. And it shall be righteousness for you before the Lord your God.

14“You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. 15You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the Lord, and you be guilty of sin.

16“Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.

17“You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow's garment in pledge, 18but 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.

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 sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. 21When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. 22You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.


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De 24:1-22. Of Divorces.

1-4. When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes—It appears that the practice of divorces was at this early period very prevalent amongst the Israelites, who had in all probability become familiar with it in Egypt [Lane]. The usage, being too deep-rooted to be soon or easily abolished, was tolerated by Moses (Mt 19:8). But it was accompanied under the law with two conditions, which were calculated greatly to prevent the evils incident to the permitted system; namely: (1) The act of divorcement was to be certified on a written document, the preparation of which, with legal formality, would afford time for reflection and repentance; and (2) In the event of the divorced wife being married to another husband, she could not, on the termination of that second marriage, be restored to her first husband, however desirous he might be to receive her.

5. When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war—This law of exemption was founded on good policy and was favorable to matrimony, as it afforded a full opportunity for the affections of the newly married pair being more firmly rooted, and it diminished or removed occasions for the divorces just mentioned.

6. No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge—The "upper" stone being concave, covers the "nether" like a lid; and it has a small aperture, through which the corn is poured, as well as a handle by which it is turned. The propriety of the law was founded on the custom of grinding corn every morning for daily consumption. If either of the stones, therefore, which composed the handmill was wanting, a person would be deprived of his necessary provision.

7. If a man be found stealing any of his brethren—(See Ex 21:16).

8, 9. Take heed in the plague of leprosy—(See Le 13:14).

10-13. When thou dost lend thy brother anything, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge—The course recommended was, in kind and considerate regard, to spare the borrower's feelings. In the case of a poor man who had pledged his cloak, it was to be restored before night, as the poor in Eastern countries have commonly no other covering for wrapping themselves in when they go to sleep than the garment they have worn during the day.

14, 15. Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy—Hired servants in the East are paid at the close of the day; and for a master to defraud the laborer of his hire, or to withhold it wrongfully for a night, might have subjected a poor man with his family to suffering and was therefore an injustice to be avoided (Le 19:13).

16-18. The fathers shall not be put to death for the children—The rule was addressed for the guidance of magistrates, and it established the equitable principle that none should be responsible for the crimes of others.

19-22. When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field—The grain, pulled up by the roots or cut down with a sickle, was laid in loose sheaves; the fruit of the olive was obtained by striking the branches with long poles; and the grape clusters, severed by a hook, were gathered in the hands of the vintager. Here is a beneficent provision for the poor. Every forgotten sheaf in the harvest-field was to lie; the olive tree was not to be beaten a second time; nor were grapes to be gathered, in order that, in collecting what remained, the hearts of the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow might be gladdened by the bounty of Providence.




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