Deuteronomy – Chapter 25

The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 25


«When men have a dispute and bring it to court, and a decision is handed down to them acquitting the innocent party and condemning the guilty party,


if the latter deserves stripes, the judge shall have him lie down and in his presence receive the number of stripes his guilt deserves.


1 Forty stripes may be given him, but no more; lest, if he were beaten with more stripes than these, your kinsman should be looked upon as disgraced because of the severity of the beating.


2 «You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out grain.


3 «When brothers live together and one of them dies without a son, the widow of the deceased shall not marry anyone outside the family; but her husband’s brother shall go to her and perform the duty of a brother-in-law by marrying her.


The first-born son she bears shall continue the line of the deceased brother, that his name may not be blotted out from Israel.


If, however, a man does not care to marry his brother’s wife, she shall go up to the elders at the gate and declare, ‘My brother-in-law does not intend to perform his duty toward me and refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel.’


Thereupon the elders of his city shall summon him and admonish him. If he persists in saying, ‘I am not willing to marry her,’


4 his sister-in-law, in the presence of the elders, shall go up to him and strip his sandal from his foot and spit in his face, saying publicly, ‘This is how one should be treated who will not build up his brother’s family!’


And his lineage shall be spoken of in Israel as ‘the family of the man stripped of his sandal.’


«When two men are fighting and the wife of one intervenes to save her husband from the blows of his opponent, if she stretches out her hand and seizes the latter by his private parts,


you shall chop off her hand without pity.


«You shall not keep two differing weights in your bag, one large and the other small;


nor shall you keep two different measures in your house, one large and the other small.


But use a true and just weight, and a true and just measure, that you may have a long life on the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you.


Everyone who is dishonest in any of these matters is an abomination to the LORD, your God.


5 «Bear in mind what Amalek did to you on the journey after you left Egypt,


how without fear of any god he harassed you along the way, weak and weary as you were, and cut off at the rear all those who lagged behind.


Therefore, when the LORD, your God, gives you rest from all your enemies round about in the land which he is giving you to occupy as your heritage, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. Do not forget!

1 [3] Forty stripes: a relatively mild punishment in ancient times. Later Jewish practice limited the number to thirty-nine; cf  2 Cor 11:24.
2 [4] St. Paul argues from this verse that a laborer has the right to live on the fruits of his labor; cf ⇒ 1 Cor 9:9; ⇒ 1 Tim 5:18.
3 [5] When brothers live together: when relatives of the same clan, though married, hold their property in common. It was only in this case that the present law was to be observed, since one of its purposes was to keep the property of the deceased within the same clan. Such a marriage of a widow with her brother-in-law is known as a «levirate» marriage from the Latin word levir, meaning «a husband’s brother.»
4 [9-10] The penalty decreed for a man who refuses to comply with this law of family loyalty is public disgrace (the widow is to spit in his face) and the curse of poverty; sandals were proverbially a man’s cheapest possession (cf ⇒ Amos 2:6; ⇒ 8:6), and therefore «a man without sandals» was the poorest of the poor. Some commentators, however, connect this symbolic act with the ceremony mentioned in  Ruth 4:7, 8.
5 [17-19] This attack on Israel by Amalek is not mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament, although it probably was connected with the battle mentioned in ⇒ Exodus 17:8. A campaign against Amalek was carried out by Saul; cf 1 Sam 15.