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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 20

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

Horses, and chariots - The most formidable elements of an Oriental host, which the Canaanites possessed in great numbers; compare Joshua 17:16; Jdg 4:3; 1 Samuel 13:5. Israel could not match these with corresponding forces (compare Deuteronomy 17:16 note and references), but, having the God of battles on its side, was not to be dismayed by them; the assumption being that the war had the sanction of God, and was consequently just.

Verse 2

The priest - Not the high priest, but one appointed for the purpose, and called, according to the rabbis, “the anointed of the war”: hence, perhaps the expression of Jeremiah 6:4, etc. “prepare ye” (literally consecrate) “war.” Thus, Phinehas went with the warriors to fight against Midian (Numbers 31:6; compare 1Sa 4:4, 1 Samuel 4:11; 2 Chronicles 13:12).

Verse 5

The officers dedicated it - See Exodus 5:6 note.

Compare the marginal references. The expression is appropriate, because various ceremonies of a religious kind were customary among the Jews on taking possession of a new house. The immunity conferred in this verse lasted, like that in Deuteronomy 20:7 (compare Deuteronomy 24:5), for one year.

Verse 6

See the margin and references. The fruit of newly-planted trees was set apart from common uses for four years.

Verse 9

The meaning is that the “officers” should then subdivide the levies, and appoint leaders of the smaller divisions thus constituted.

Verses 10-20

Directions intended to prevent wanton destruction of life and property in sieges.

Deuteronomy 20:16

Forbearance, however, was not to be shown toward the Canaanite nations, which were to be utterly exterminated (compare Deuteronomy 7:1-4). The command did not apply to beasts as well as men (compare Joshua 11:11, Joshua 11:14).

Deuteronomy 20:19

The parenthesis may he more literally rendered “for man is a tree of the field,” i. e., has his life from the tree of the field, is supported in life by it (compare Deuteronomy 24:6). The Egyptians seem invariably to have cut down the fruit-trees in war.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 20". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/deuteronomy-20.html. 1870.
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