Deuteronomy 25 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Deuteronomy 25)

Verse 1

[1] If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.

Justify — Acquit him from guilt and false accusations, and free him from punishment.

Verse 2

[2] And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number.

Beaten — Which the Jews say was the case of all those crimes which the law commands to be punished, without expressing the kind or degree of punishment.

Before his face — That the punishment may be duly inflicted, without excess or defect. And from this no person's rank or quality exempted him, if he was a delinquent.

Verse 3

[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.

Forty stripes — It seems not superstition, but prudent caution, when the Jews would not exceed thirty-nine stripes, lest through mistake or forgetfulness they should go beyond their bounds, which they were commanded to keep.

Should seem vile — Should be made contemptible to his brethren, either by this cruel usage of him, as if he were a brute beast: or by the deformity or infirmity of body which excessive beating might produce.

Verse 4

[4] Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.

He treadeth out the corn — Which they did in those parts, either immediately by their hoofs on by drawing carts or other instruments over the corn. Hereby God taught them humanity, even to their beasts that served them, and much more to their servants or other men who laboured for them, especially to their ministers, 1 Corinthians 9:9.

Verse 5

[5] If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, 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.

Together — In the same town, or at least country. For if the next brother had removed his habitation into remote parts, on were carried thither into captivity, then the wife of the dead had her liberty to marry the next kinsman that lived in the same place with her.

One — Any of them, for the words are general, and the reason of the law was to keep up the distinction of tribes and families, that so the Messiah might be discovered by the family from which he was appointed to proceed; and also of inheritances, which were divided among all the brethren, the first-born having only a double portion.

A stranger — To one of another family.

Verse 6

[6] And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.

That his name be not put out — That a family be not lost. So this was a provision that the number of their families might not be diminished.

Verse 9

[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.

Loose his shoe — As a sign of his resignation of all his right to the woman, and to her husband's inheritance: for as the shoe was a sign of one's power and right, Psalms 60:8; 108:9, so the parting with the shoe was a token of the alienation of such right; and as a note of infamy, to signify that by this disingenuous action he was unworthy to be amongst free-men, and fit to be reduced to the condition of the meanest servants, who used to go barefoot, Isaiah 20:2,4.

Verse 10

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

His name — That is, his person, and his posterity also. So it was a lasting blot.

Verse 13

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

A great and a small — The great to buy with, the small for selling.

Verse 17

[17] Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt;

Out of Egypt — Which circumstance greatly aggravates their sin, that they should do thus to a people, who had been long exercised with sore afflictions, to whom pity was due by the laws of nature and humanity, and for whose rescue God had in so glorious a manner appeared, which they could not be ignorant of. So this was barbarousness to Israel, and setting the great Jehovah at defiance.