Ammonites and Moabites were to be treated harshly; there was to be no intermarrying with them or “seeking their peace and prosperity” (Deut. 23:4-7).
The Edomites and Egyptians, on the other hand, were not to be abhorred (Deut. 23:8).
The problem with the Ammonites that they “met you not with bread and water” – i.e., they were deficient in ethics. The Moabites “hired against you Bilam the son of B’or” – i.e., they wanted to destroy Israel. But the Edomites? Though not friendly towards Israel, they were nonetheless brothers: Nachmanides says, descendants of Abraham.
And the Egyptians? “You were a stranger in their land”. The Egyptian period was one of slavery and degradation, but they did take the Israelites in and give them a home and food in time of famine, and this should not be forgotten.
Four principles can be deduced from this passage:
1. Refusing to care for fellow human beings in time of hunger or any other need is unforgivable.
2. Wishing to wipe out another whole people compromises your nation’s right to exist.
3. Family remains family even when its members fail to act in a brotherly way.
4. Hospitality should not be forgotten (there is a saying, “I fed you bread – don’t throw back stones”).