Leviticus 19:20 Commentary - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)
Betrothed to an husband.—Better, betrothed to a man. From the law about the mixed seeds the Lawgiver passes to heterogeneous alliances. The case here legislated for is that of seducing a bondwoman who is espoused to another man. This bondwoman might be either one of an intermediate kind, that is, one whose redemption money had been partially paid, or belong to that class who had no prospect of a free discharge. According to the administrators of the law during the second Temple, the case before us is that of a Canaanitish maid, partly free and partly servile, whom her master had espoused to a Hebrew slave. (See Exo. 21:4.)
And not at all redeemed.—Better, not fully or entirely redeemed, that is, only part of her redemption money had been paid, so that she was partly free and partly slave. According to the law which obtained during the second Temple, the espousal of such a woman was not legally complete, and hence she is not properly a married woman or the wife of another man.
Nor freedom given her.—That is, the legal document that she is a free woman and has ceased to be a slave. This was done upon payment of the full money, or of her master’s free choice without redemption money at all. In either case, however, she was then only legally free when she received the bill of freedom. Hence the ancient Chaldee Version translates this clause, “Nor has freedom been given her by a bill of dismission.”
She shall be scourged.—Literally, there shall be visitation or inquisition; then, as is frequently the case, the effect of this visitation or requisition, i.e., punishment, which, according to the administrators of the law during the second Temple, consisted in giving the woman forty stripes with the thong of an ox-hide. This punishment, however, she only received when it was proved that she was a consenting party to the sin. Hence the rendering in the Authorised Version, “she shall be scourged.” The Marginal rendering,” they shall be scourged,” though supported by some ancient Versions, is contrary to the legislation during the second Temple. The punishment prescribed in this clause is for the woman alone, the man’s punishment follows in the next verse.
They shall not be put to death.—As she was a slave, and her espousals were illegal, the punishment of death, which was ordinarily inflicted in cases of adultery or seduction of a free woman betrothed to a man (see Lev. 20:10; Deu. 22:23), was not inflicted on them.
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Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)
Charles John Ellicott (1819 - 1905) was a distinguished English Christian theologian, academic and churchman. He briefly served as Dean of Exeter, then Bishop of the united see of Gloucester and Bristol.
His works include:
- An Old Testament Commentary for English Readers, 1897. (Editor)
- A New Testament Commentary for English Readers, 1878.