Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
(1) If there be a controversy between men, and they come to judgment, and the judges judge them, and justify the righteous and condemn the wicked (compare the marginal reference. and Exo 23:7; Pro 17:15);
(2) then it shall be, etc.
Scourging is named as a penalty in Lev 19:20. The beating here spoken of would be on the back with a rod or stick (compare Pro 10:13; Pro 19:29; Pro 26:3).
The Jews to keep within the letter of the law fixed 39 stripes as the maximum (compare the marginal reference.). Forty signifies the full measure of judgment (compare Gen 7:12; Num 14:33-34); but the son of Israel was not to be lashed like a slave at the mercy of another. The judge was always to be present to see that the Law in this particular was not overpassed.
Compare the marginal references. In other kinds of labor the oxen were usually muzzled. When driven to and fro over the threshing-floor in order to stamp out the grain from the chaff, they were to be allowed to partake of the fruits of their labors.
The law of levirate marriage. The law on this subject is not unique to the Jews, but is found (see Gen 38:8) in all essential respects the same among various Oriental nations, ancient and modern. The rules in these verses, like those upon divorce, do but incorporate existing immemorial usages, and introduce various wise and politic limitations and mitigations of them. The root of the obligation here imposed upon the brother of the deceased husband lies in the primitive idea of childlessness being a great calamity (compare Gen 16:4; and note), and extinction of name and family one of the greatest that could happen (compare Deu 9:14; Psa 109:12-15). To avert this the ordinary rules as to intermarriage are in the case in question (compare Lev 18:16) set aside. The obligation was onerous (compare Rut 4:6), and might be repugnant; and it is accordingly considerably reduced and restricted by Moses. The duty is recognized as one of affection for the memory of the deceased; it is not one which could be enforced at law. That it continued down to the Christian era is apparent from the question on this point put to Jesus by the Sadducees (see the marginal references).
No child - literally, "no son." The existence of a daughter would clearly suffice. The daughter would inherit the name and property of the father; compare Num 27:1-11.
Loose his shoe from off his foot - In token of taking from the unwilling brother all right over the wife and property of the deceased. Planting the foot on a thing was an usual symbol of lordship and of taking possession (compare Gen 13:17; Jos 10:24), and loosing the shoe and handing it to another in like manner signified a renunciation and transfer of right and title (compare Rut 4:7-8; Psa 60:8, and Psa 108:9). The widow here is directed herself, as the party slighted and injured, to deprive her brother-law of his shoe, and spit in his face (compare Num 12:14). The action was intended to aggravate the disgrace conceived to attach to the conduct of the man.
The house ... - Equivalent to "the house of the barefooted one." To go barefoot was a sign of the most abject condition; compare Sa2 15:30.
This is the only mutilation prescribed by the Law of Moses, unless we except the retaliation prescribed as a punishment for the infliction on another of bodily injuries Lev 24:19-20. The act in question was probably not rare in the times and countries for which the Law of Moses was designed. It is of course to be understood that the act was willful, and that the prescribed punishment would be inflicted according to the sentence of the judges.
Honesty in trade, as a duty to our neighbor, is emphatically enforced once more (compare Lev 19:35-36). It is noteworthy that John the Baptist puts the like duties in the forefront of his preaching (compare Luk 3:12 ff); and that "the prophets" (compare Eze 45:10-12; Amo 8:5; Mic 6:10-11) and "the Psalms" Pro 16:11; Pro 20:10, Pro 20:23, not less than "the Law," especially insist on them.
Divers weights - i. e. stones of unequal weights, the lighter to sell with, the heavier to buy with. Stones were used by the Jews instead of brass or lead for their weights, as less liable to lose anything through rust or wear.
It was not after the spirit or mission of the Law to aim at overcoming inveterate opposition by love and by attempts at conversion (contrast Luk 9:55-56). The law taught God's hatred of sin and of rebellion against Him by enjoining the extinction of the obstinate sinner. The Amalekites were a kindred people Gen 36:15-16; and living as they did in the peninsula of Sinai, they could not but have well known the mighty acts God had done for His people in Egypt and the Red Sea; yet they manifested from the first a persistent hostility to Israel (compare Exo 17:8, and note; Num 14:45). They provoked therefore the sentence here pronounced, which was executed at last by Saul (Sa1 15:3 ff).