1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.
2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.
3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand and sendeth her out of his house: or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;
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.
5 ¶ When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shalt 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.
ALL the privileges accorded man alone, are based on the principle that women have no causes for divorce. If they had equal rights in law and public sentiment, a large number of cruel, whiskey drinking and profane husbands, would be sued for divorce before wives endured one year of such gross companionship.
There is a good suggestion in the text, that when a man takes a new wife he shall stay at home at least one year to cheer and comfort her. If they propose to have children, the responsible duties of parents should be equally shared as far as possible. In a busy commercial life, fathers have but little time to guard their children against the temptations of life, or to prepare them for its struggles, and the mother educated to believe that she has no rights or duties in public affairs, can give no lessons on political morality from her standpoint. Hence the home is in a condition of half orphanage for the want of fathers, and the State suffers for need of wise mothers.
It was customary among the Jews to dedicate a new house, a vineyard just planted, or a betrothed wife to the Lord with prayer and thanksgiving, before going forth to public duties. This idea is enforced in several different chapters, impressing on men with families that there are periods in their lives when
"their sphere is home" their primal duty to look after the wife, the house and the vineyard.
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 take her to wire.
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.
7 And if the man like not to take his brother's wife, then let his brother's wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, my husband's brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband's brother.
8 Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if she stand to it, and say, I like not to take her:
9 Then shall his brother's wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot.
I would recommend these texts to the consideration of the Bishops in the English House of Lords. If a man may marry a deceased brother's wife, why not a deceased wife's sister? English statesmanship has struggled with this problem for generations, and the same old platitudes against the deceased wife's sister's bill are made to do duty annually in Parliament.
56 The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward her husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter, and toward her children which she shall bear; for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.
64 Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
68 And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.
This is addressed to men as most of the injunctions are, as to their treatment of woman in general. In enumerating the good things that would come to Israel if the commandments were obeyed, nothing is promised to women, but when the curses are distributed, woman comes in for her share. Similar treatment is accorded the daughters of Eve in modern days. She is given equal privileges with man, in being imprisoned and hung, but unlike him she has no voice in the laws, the judge, the jury, nor the manner of exit to the unknown land. She is denied the right of trial by her own peers; the laws are made by men, the courts are filled with men; the judge, the advocates, the jurors, all men!
Moses follows the usual ancient idea that in the creation of
human life, man is the important factor. The child is his fruit, he is the soul. The spirit the vital spark. The woman merely the earth that warms and nourishes the seed, the earthly environment. This unscientific idea still holds among people ignorant of physiology and psychology. This notion chimes in with the popular view of woman's secondary place in the world, and so is accepted as law and gospel. The word "beget" applied only to men in Scripture is additional enforcement of the idea that the creative act belongs to him alone. This is flattering to male egoism and is readily accepted.
E. C. S.
In the early chapters of this book Moses' praises of Hebrew valor in marching into a land already occupied and utterly destroying men, women and children, seems much like the rejoicing of those who believe in exterminating the aboriginees in America. Evidently Moses believed in the survival of the fittest and that his own people were the fittest. He teaches the necessity of exclusiveness, that the hereditary traits of the people may not be lost by intermarriage. Though the Israelites, like the Puritans, had notable foremothers as well as forefathers, yet it was not the custom to mention them. Perhaps the word fathers meant both, as the word man in Scripture often includes woman. In the preface by Lord Bishop Ely, to what is popularly known as the Speaker's Bible, the remark is made that "whilst the Word of God is one, and does not change, it must touch at new points the changing phases of physical, philological and historical knowledge, and so the comments that suit one generation are felt by another to be obsolete." So, also, it is that with the higher education of women, their wider opportunities and the increasing sense of justice, many interpretations of the Bible are felt to be obsolete, hence the same reason exists for the Woman's Commentary, which is already popularly known as the Woman's Bible.
Deuteronomy is a name derived from the Greek and signifies that this is the second or duplicate law, because this, the last
book of the Pentateuch, consists partly in a restatement of the law, as already given in other books. Deuteronomy contains also, besides special commands and advice not previously written, an account of the death of Moses. Johnson's Universal Cyclopedia states that "the authority of this book has been traditionally assigned to Moses, but, of course, the part relating to his death is not supposed to be written by himself, and indeed the last four chapters may have been added by another hand." DeWette declares that Moses could not have been the author. He not only points to the closing chapters as containing proof, but he refers to the anachronisms in earlier chapters, and insists that the general manner in which the Mosaic history is treated belongs to a period after the time of Moses. And Rev. John White Chadwick in his "Bible of To-day" declares that "Prophetism created Deuteronomy." He speaks of Malachi, the last of the Prophets, as the first to mention the Mosaic law, and says that in the eighth century before Christ there was no Mosaic law in any modern sense. The Pentateuch in anything like its present form was still far in the future. Deuteronomy more than a hundred years ahead. Leviticus and Numbers nearly three hundred. * * * The book of Deuteronomy was much more of a manufacture than any previous portion of the Pentateuch. * * * Not Sinai and Wilderness, but Babylon and Jerusalem, witnessed the promulgation of the Levitical law. Its priest was Ezra and not Aaron; but who was its Moses the most patient study is not likely ever to reveal. The roar of Babylon does not give up its dead. It would seem as if the Rev. Dr. George Lansing Taylor shared some of these ideas when, in his poem at the centennial of Columbia College, he said:
"Great Ezra, Artaxerxes' courtly scholar--
Doctor, ere old Bologna gave that collar,
A ready scribe in all the laws of heaven,
From Babylon ascends, to Zion given,
Armed with imperial power and proclamation,
To rear God's house and educate a nation.
As editor for God, the first in story,
He crowns the editorial chair with glory.
Inspired to push Jehovah's mighty plan on
He lays its corner-stone, the Bible canon.
His Bible college, Bible publication,
Convert the city, crown the Restoration,
And fix the beacon date for History's pages
The chronologic milestone of the ages."
This chapter of Deuteronomy in the solemnity and explicitness of its blessing and cursings must produce a deep impression on those who are desirous of pursuing a course which would promote personal and national prosperity. Reading chapter xix and remembering the history of the Jews from Moses to this day I reverently acknowledge the sure word of prophecy therein recorded. Chapter xxx also has high literary merit. Its euphony is in accordance with its solemn but encouraging warnings and promises. It touches the connection divinely ordained and eternally existing between life and goodness, death and sin, emphasizing the apostolic injunction, "cease to do evil, learn to do well." This chapter, giving the last directions of Moses and intimations of his departure from earth, is one of deep interest. How the Lord communicated to him that his end approached does not appear, but deeply impressed with the belief, he naturally called together Joshua and the Levites and gave his final charge. Whether fact or fiction this farewell is deeply interesting. The closing chapters, containing the "song of blessing," comes to all lovers of religious poetry as the swan song of Moses. Though doubting its authorship, one may enjoy its beauty and grandeur. Chapter xxxiv narrates the death of Moses:
"By Nebo's lonely mountain,
On this side Jordan's wave."
It tells briefly the mourning of the children of Israel over their great leader's departure and affirms the appointment of
Joshua, the son of Nun, as his successor, and fitly closes the valuable collection of writings called the Pentateuch.
Since I have proposeed the elimination of some of the coarser portions of Deuteronomy, I wish to add the testimony of Stevens in his "Scripture Speculations," as to the general morality of this ancient code. "Barbarous as they were in many things, childish in more, their laws are as much in advance of them as of their contemporaries,--were even singular for humanity in that age, and not always equaled in ours. We forget that there were contemporary nations which justified stealing, authorised infanticide, legalized the murder of aged parents, associated lust with worship. None of these blots can be traced on the Jewish escutcheon. By preventing imprisonment for debt, Moses anticipated the latest discovery of modern philanthropy. * * * Even the mercy of Christianity was foreshadowed in his provision for the poor, who were never to cease out of the land; the prospered were to lend without interest, and never to harden their heart against a brother. The hovel of the poor was a sanctuary, and many a minute safeguard like the return of the debtor's garment at nightfall, to save him from suffering during the chilliness of the night, has waited to be brought to light by our more perfect knowledge of Jewish customs." But that the Scriptures, rightly interpreted, do not teach the equality of the sexes, I must be permitted to doubt. We who love the Old and New Testaments take "Truth for authority, and not authority for truth," as did our sainted Lucretia Mott, whose earnest appeals for liberty were often jewelled, as were Daniel Webster's most eloquent speeches, with some texts from the old Hebrew Bible.
P. A. H.