Deuteronomy 14:1

1 You are children of the Lord your God. You must not lacerate yourselves or shave your forelocks for the dead.

Deuteronomy 14:1 Meaning and Commentary

Deuteronomy 14:1

Ye are the children of the Lord your God
Some of them were so by the special grace of adoption, and all of them by national adoption; which was the peculiar privilege of the people of Israel, and laid them under great obligation to honour and obey the Lord their God, who stood in the relation of a father to them, and they of children to him, ( Malachi 1:6 ) . The Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it "beloved children"; so the apostle calls the saints; the "dear children of God", who therefore ought to be followers of him, ( Ephesians 5:1 ) and for a like reason this relation is observed here, namely, to quicken a regard to the exhortations of the Lord, his cautions, commands, laws, and ordinances, particularly to what follows:

ye shall not cut yourselves;
for the dead, as appears from the next clause, as the Heathens did, who not only tore their garments, but their flesh in several parts of their bodies, in their mouths, cheeks, breasts F18; and used other extravagant signs of mourning, which the apostle cautions against, ( 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ) and were condemned by the Heathens themselves F19. Though some think this refers to incisions the Heathens made in their flesh to the honour of their gods, cutting the names of them therein to whom they devoted themselves; or lashing their bodies at the worship of them, as the worshippers of Baal did when they called upon him, ( 1 Kings 18:28 ) and so the Jerusalem Targum,

``make not marks, marks,''

that is, here and there, in many places, or bruises black and blue by striping and beating themselves, for strange worship, or at it, in honour of their gods; but the former sense seems best to agree with what follows; see ( Leviticus 19:28 ) ,

nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead;
by shaving the forepart of their head or their eyebrows, or both, which used to be done in lamentations for the dead; see ( Jeremiah 16:6 Jeremiah 16:7 ) if this could be thought to have any respect to rites and ceremonies used in the worship of dead and lifeless idols, the customs of the Egyptians might be referred to, who are said to shave their heads and their eyebrows in their sacred rites to Isis F20.


FOOTNOTES:

F18 Vid. Virgil. Aeneid. 12. ver. 870, 871. and Servium in Aeneid. 1. ver. 78. and in l. 12.
F19 Vid. Cicero de Leg. l. 2. c. 23. and Tusculan. Quaest. l. 3. c. 27.
F20 Ambros. Epist. l. 4. c. 30. p. 259.

Deuteronomy 14:1 In-Context

1 You are children of the Lord your God. You must not lacerate yourselves or shave your forelocks for the dead.
2 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; it is you the Lord has chosen out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
3 You shall not eat any abhorrent thing.
4 These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat,
5 the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope, and the mountain-sheep.