And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon
A nail or spike, some kind of instrument to make a hole in the ground with, which was fastened to the sword upon their loins; which was to be instead of a spade or mattock to dig with:
and it shall be, when thou shall ease thyself abroad;
without the camp, in the place appointed for that use, whenever nature required such an action to be performed;
thou shall dig therewith;
with, the paddle, an hole in the earth: the Essenes used, according to Josephus, to make it a foot deep with a spade or mattock, and to everyone that was newly admitted among them, a little pickaxe was given for that purpose F18:
and shalt turn back;
having eased nature:
and cover that which cometh from thee;
their dung, with the earth they dug out of the hole they made. This law was made to preserve modesty and decency becoming men, and not act like brute beasts, as well as cleanliness in the camp, and, the health of themselves and their fellow soldiers; and that, they might not be offensive to the smell, as well as pernicious to the health of one another; and especially for a reason that follows in ( Deuteronomy 23:14 ) ; so Maimonides F19 says, the intention of this law is especially cleanliness, and to avoid nastiness, filthiness, and impurities of every kind, that men might not be like the brute animals.
F18 De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 8. sect. 9.
F19 Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 41.