Laws Concerning Preservation of Life
1 When you seetn Heb “you must not see,” but, if translated literally into English, the statement is misleading. your neighbor’stn Heb “brother’s” (also later in this verse). In this context it is not limited to one’s siblings, however; cf. NAB “your kinsman’s.” ox or sheep going astray, do not ignore it;tn Heb “hide yourself.” you must return it without failtn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute for emphasis, which the translation indicates with the words “without fail.” to your neighbor.
2 If the ownertn Heb “your brother” (also later in this verse). does not livetn Heb “is not.” The idea of “residing” is implied. near you or you do not know who the owner is,tn Heb “and you do not know him.” then you must corral the animaltn Heb “it”; the referent (the ox or sheep mentioned in v. 1) has been specified in the translation for clarity. at your house and let it stay with you until the owner looks for it; then you must return it to him.
3 You shall do the same to his donkey, his clothes, or anything else your neighbortn Heb “your brother” (also in v. 4). has lost and you have found; you must not refuse to get involved.tn Heb “you must not hide yourself.”
4 When you seetn Heb “you must not see.” See note at 22:1. your neighbor’s donkey or ox fallen along the road, do not ignore it;tn Heb “and (must not) hide yourself from them.” instead, you must be suretn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute for emphasis, which the translation indicates with “be sure.” to help him get the animal on its feet again.tn Heb “help him to lift them up.” In keeping with English style the singular is used in the translation, and the referent (“the animal”) has been specified for clarity.
5 A woman must not wear men’s clothing,tn Heb “a man’s clothing.” nor should a man dress up in women’s clothing, for anyone who does this is offensivetn The Hebrew term תּוֹעֵבָה (to’evah, “offense”) speaks of anything that runs counter to ritual or moral order, especially (in the OT) to divine standards. Cross-dressing in this covenant context may suggest homosexuality, fertility cult ritual, or some other forbidden practice. to the Lord your God.
6 If you happen to notice a bird’s nest along the road, whether in a tree or on the ground, and there are chicks or eggs with the mother bird sitting on them,tn Heb “and the mother sitting upon the chicks or the eggs.” you must not take the mother from the young.tn Heb “sons,” used here in a generic sense for offspring.
7 You must be suretn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute for emphasis, which the translation seeks to reflect with “be sure.” to let the mother go, but you may take the young for yourself. Do this so that it may go well with you and you may have a long life.
8 If you build a new house, you must construct a guard railtn Or “a parapet” (so NAB, NIV, NRSV); KJV “a battlement”; NLT “a barrier.” around your roof to avoid being culpabletn Heb “that you not place bloodshed in your house.” in the event someone should fall from it.
Illustrations of the Principle of Purity
9 You must not plant your vineyard with two kinds of seed; otherwise the entire yield, both of the seed you plant and the produce of the vineyard, will be defiled.tn Heb “set apart.” The verb קָדַשׁ (qadash) in the Qal verbal stem (as here) has the idea of being holy or being treated with special care. Some take the meaning as “be off-limits, forfeited,” i.e., the total produce of the vineyard, both crops and grapes, have to be forfeited to the sanctuary (cf. Exod 29:37; 30:29; Lev 6:18, 27; Num 16:37-38; Hag 2:12).
10 You must not plow with an ox and a donkey harnessed together.
11 You must not wear clothing made with wool and linen meshed together.tn The Hebrew term שַׁעַטְנֵז (sha’atnez) occurs only here and in Lev 19:19. HALOT 1610-11 s.v. takes it to be a contraction of words (שַׁשׁ [shash, “headdress”] + עַטְנַז [’atnaz, “strong”]). BDB 1043 s.v. שַׁעַטְנֵז offers the translation “mixed stuff” (cf. NEB “woven with two kinds of yarn”; NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT “woven together”). The general meaning is clear even if the etymology is not.
12 You shall make yourselves tasselstn Heb “twisted threads” (גְּדִלִים, gÿdilim) appears to be synonymous with צִיצִת (tsitsit) which, in Num 15:38, occurs in a passage instructing Israel to remember the covenant. Perhaps that is the purpose of the tassels here as well. Cf. KJV, ASV “fringes”; NAB “twisted cords.” for the four corners of the clothing you wear.
Purity in the Marriage Relationship
13 Suppose a man marries a woman, has sexual relations with her,tn Heb “goes to her,” a Hebrew euphemistic idiom for sexual relations. and then rejectstn Heb “hate.” See note on the word “other” in Deut 21:15. Cf. NAB “comes to dislike”; NASB “turns against”; TEV “decides he doesn’t want.” her,
14 accusing her of improprietytn Heb “deeds of things”; NRSV “makes up charges against her”; NIV “slanders her.” and defaming her reputationtn Heb “brings against her a bad name”; NIV “gives her a bad name.” by saying, “I married this woman but when I had sexual relationstn Heb “drew near to her.” This is another Hebrew euphemism for having sexual relations. with her I discovered she was not a virgin!”
15 Then the father and mother of the young woman must produce the evidence of virginitysn In light of v. 17 this would evidently be blood-stained sheets indicative of the first instance of intercourse. See E. H. Merrill, Deuteronomy (NAC), 302-3. for the elders of the city at the gate.
16 The young woman’s father must say to the elders, “I gave my daughter to this man and he has rejectedtn Heb “hated.” See note on the word “other” in Deut 21:15. her.
17 Moreover, he has raised accusations of impropriety by saying, ‘I discovered your daughter was not a virgin,’ but this is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity!” The cloth must then be spread outtn Heb “they will spread the garment.” before the city’s elders.
18 The elders of that city must then seize the man and punishtn Heb “discipline.” him.
19 They will fine him one hundred shekels of silver and give them to the young woman’s father, for the man who made the accusationtn Heb “for he”; the referent (the man who made the accusation) has been specified in the translation to avoid confusion with the young woman’s father, the last-mentioned male. ruined the reputationtn Heb “brought forth a bad name.” of an Israelite virgin. She will then become his wife and he may never divorce her as long as he lives.
20 But if the accusation is true and the young woman was not a virgin,
21 the men of her city must bring the young woman to the door of her father’s house and stone her to death, for she has done a disgraceful thingtn The Hebrew term נְבָלָה (nÿvalah) means more than just something stupid. It refers to a moral lapse so serious as to jeopardize the whole covenant community (cf. Gen 34:7; Judg 19:23; 20:6, 10; Jer 29:23). See C. Pan, NIDOTTE 3:11-13. Cf. NAB “she committed a crime against Israel.” in Israel by behaving like a prostitute while living in her father’s house. In this way you will purgetn Heb “burn.” See note on Deut 21:21. evil from among you.
22 If a man is caught having sexual relations withtn Heb “lying with” (so KJV, NASB), a Hebrew idiom for sexual relations. a married womantn Heb “a woman married to a husband.” both the man who had relations with the woman and the woman herself must die; in this way you will purgetn Heb “burn.” See note on the phrase “purge out” in Deut 21:21. evil from Israel.
23 If a virgin is engaged to a man and another man meetstn Heb “finds.” her in the city and has sexual relations withtn Heb “lies with.” her,
24 you must bring the two of them to the gate of that city and stone them to death, the young woman because she did not cry out though in the city and the man because he violatedtn Heb “humbled.” his neighbor’s fiancee;tn Heb “wife.” in this way you will purgetn Heb “burn.” See note on the phrase “purge out” in Deut 21:21. evil from among you.
25 But if the man came acrosstn Heb “found,” also in vv. 27, 28. the engaged woman in the field and overpowered her and rapedtn Heb “lay with” here refers to a forced sexual relationship, as the accompanying verb “seized” (חָזַק, khazaq) makes clear. her, then only the rapisttn Heb “the man who lay with her, only him.” must die.
26 You must not do anything to the young woman – she has done nothing deserving of death. This case is the same as when someone attacks another persontn Heb “his neighbor.” and murders him,
27 for the mantn Heb “he”; the referent (the man who attacked the woman) has been specified in the translation for clarity. met her in the field and the engaged woman cried out, but there was no one to rescue her.
28 Suppose a man comes across a virgin who is not engaged and overpowers and rapestn Heb “lies with.” her and they are discovered.
29 The man who has raped her must pay her father fifty shekels of silver and she must become his wife because he has violated her; he may never divorce her as long as he lives.
30 (23:1)sn Beginning with 22:30, the verse numbers through 23:25 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 22:30 ET = 23:1 HT, 23:1 ET = 23:2 HT, 23:2 ET = 23:3 HT, etc., through 23:25 ET = 23:26 HT. With 24:1 the verse numbers in the ET and HT are again the same. A man may not marrytn Heb “take.” In context this refers to marriage, as in the older English expression “take a wife.” his father’s formersn This presupposes either the death of the father or their divorce since it would be impossible for one to marry his stepmother while his father was still married to her. wife and in this way dishonor his father.tn Heb “uncover his father’s skirt” (so ASV, NASB). This appears to be a circumlocution for describing the dishonor that would come to a father by having his own son share his wife’s sexuality (cf. NAB, NIV “dishonor his father’s bed”).