Going deeper and deeper into the manifold relations of the national life, Moses first of all explains in Deu 22:1-12 the attitude of an Israelite, on the one hand, towards a neighbour; and, on the other hand, towards the natural classification and arrangement of things, and shows how love should rule in the midst of all these relations. The different relations brought under consideration are selected rather by way of examples, and therefore follow one another without any link of connection, for the purpose of exhibiting the truth in certain concrete cases, and showing how the covenant people were to hold all the arrangement of God sacred, whether in nature or in social life.
In Deu 22:1-4 Moses shows, by a still further expansion of Exo 23:4-5, how the property of a neighbour was to be regarded and preserved. If any man saw an ox or a sheep of his brother's (fellow-countryman) going astray, he was not to draw back from it, but to bring it back to his brother; and if the owner lived at a distance, or was unknown, he was to take it into his own house or farm, till he came to seek it. He was also to do the same with an ass or any other property that another had lost.
A fallen animal belonging to another he was also to help up (as in Exo 23:5 : except that in this case, instead of a brother generally, an enemy or hater is mentioned).
As the property of a neighbour was to be sacred in the estimation of an Israelite, so also the divine distinction of the sexes, which was kept sacred in civil life by the clothing peculiar to each sex, was to be not less but even more sacredly observed. “There shall not be man's things upon a woman, and a man shall not put on a woman's clothes.” כְּלִי does not signify clothing merely, nor arms only, but includes every kind of domestic and other utensils (as in Exo 22:6; Lev 11:32; Lev 13:49). The immediate design of this prohibition was not to prevent licentiousness, or to oppose idolatrous practices (the proofs which Spencer has adduced of the existence of such usages among heathen nations are very far-fetched); but to maintain the sanctity of that distinction of the sexes which was established by the creation of man and woman, and in relation to which Israel was not to sin. Every violation or wiping out of this distinction - such even, for example, as the emancipation of a woman - was unnatural, and therefore an abomination in the sight of God.
The affectionate relation of parents to their young, which God had established even in the animal world, was also to be kept just as sacred. If any one found a bird's nest by the road upon a tree, or upon the ground, with young ones or eggs, and the mother sitting upon them, he was not to take the mother with the young ones, but to let the mother fly, and only take the young. נִקְרָא for נִקְרָה, as in Exo 5:3. The command is related to the one in Lev 22:28 and Exo 23:19, and is placed upon a par with the commandment relating to parents, by the fact that obedience is urged upon the people by the same promise in both instances (vid., Deu 5:16; Exo 20:12).
Still less were they to expose human life to danger through carelessness. “If thou build a new house, make a rim (maakeh) - i.e., a balustrade - to thy roof, that thou bring not blood-guiltiness upon thy house, if any one fall from it.” The roofs of the Israelitish houses were flat, as they mostly are in the East, so that the inhabitants often lived upon them (Jos 2:6; 2Sa 11:2; Mat 10:27). - In Deu 22:9-11, there follow several prohibitions against mixing together the things which are separated in God's creation, consisting partly of a verbal repetition of Lev 19:19 (see the explanation of this passage). - To this there is appended in Deu 22:12 the law concerning the tassels upon the hem of the upper garment (Num 15:37.), which were to remind the Israelites of their calling, to walk before the Lord in faithful fulfilment of the commandments of God (see the commentary upon this passage).