Chapter 19

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1 When the LORD thy God hath cut off the nations, whose land the LORD thy God giveth thee, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their cities, and in their houses;

2 Thou shalt separate three cities for thee in the midst of thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it.

3 Thou shalt prepare thee a way, and divide the coasts of thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee to inherit, into three parts, that every slayer may flee thither.

4 And this is the case of the slayer, which shall flee thither, that he may live: Whoso killeth his neighbour ignorantly, whom he hated not in time past;

5 As when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbour to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbour, that he die; he shall flee unto one of those cities, and live:

6 Lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and slay him; whereas he was not worthy of death, inasmuch as he hated him not in time past.

7 Wherefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt separate three cities for thee.

8 And if the LORD thy God enlarge thy coast, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, and give thee all the land which he promised to give unto thy fathers;

9 If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the LORD thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three:

10 That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.

11 But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities:

12 Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.

13 Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.

14 Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour's landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it.

15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

16 If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong;

17 Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days;

18 And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother;

19 Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.

20 And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.

21 And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

Commentary for Deuteronomy 19

The cities of refuge, The man-slayer, The murderer. (1-13) Landmarks not to be removed. (14) The punishment of false witnesses. (15-21)1-13 Here is the law settled between the blood of the murdered, and the blood of the murderer; provision is made, that the cities of refuge should be a protection, so that a man should not die for that as a crime, which was not his willing act. In Christ, the Lord our Righteousness, refuge is provided for those who by faith flee unto him. But there is no refuge in Jesus Christ for presumptuous sinners, who go on still in their trespasses. Those who flee to Christ from their sins, shall be safe in him, but not those who expect to be sheltered by him in their sins.

14 Direction is given to fix landmarks in Canaan. It is the will of God that every one should know his own; and that means should be used to hinder the doing and suffering of wrong. This, without doubt, is a moral precept, and still binding. Let every man be content with his own lot, and be just to his neighbours in all things.

15-21 Sentence should never be passed upon the testimony of one witness alone. A false witness should suffer the same punishment which he sought to have inflicted upon the person he accused. Nor could any law be more just. Let all Christians not only be cautious in bearing witness in public, but be careful not to join in private slanders; and let all whose consciences accuse them of crime, without delay flee for refuge to the hope set before them in Jesus Christ.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for Deuteronomy 19

  • Richard Barrell on Deuteronomy 19
    Hi, I'm wrestling somewhat with Deut 19 v 15 where the Word talks of two witnesses needed for a conviction of an evil act. It seems the JWs use this to protect some among their number who have been accused of child abuse. Obviously a child who has been abused would never have had a witness, let alone two, to present evidence against an evil person involved in such a crime. I'd be interested in your take on this verse please.

    Thank you

  • Chris - in Reply on Deuteronomy 19
    Hi Richard, you've touched on a portion of Scripture that I often recall with heaviness, especially in light of our modern judicial system. What you read there in Deut 19, was a wonderful law & provision to all caught up in a crime. It appears to me as one that was very fair & just, given the lack of forensic & other means of crime investigation that was available to them. The fact that both wilful & accidental deaths were dealt with, is noteworthy. And the need for two witnesses, with the caveat that if any gave a false witness, they too would receive similar punishment, is something our present system could well learn from.

    But to your matter: I'm not familiar with the usage of this verse amongst the JWs, but I can see where they & any other religious group, could use it for their wicked ends. Or, even take the RC ruling of anonymity between clergy & laity, how this has been abused where the rule overrides the sin/crime being committed. What can one say, except when seeing or hearing of such tragedies, one can only wonder as to the type of 'religion' practised by those perpetrators of crime, whether there is any guilt at all, or more likely, believing that neither man nor God has observed their wickedness or has an interest in it. And you're right, how can a child in that situation, even if old enough, ever bring out two or three witnesses; fear itself would compel a child to not speak up. The bottom line is that our justice system has so deteriorated over the decades, that it now does little more than give a 'slap on the wrist' & this only to indicate that they view the act committed as a crime & that both the criminal & the victim are to be treated equally!! I could go on & on with this, but it only brings on more despair.
  • Mishael - in Reply on Deuteronomy 19
    It means that it takes 2 witnesses to accuse and 3 witnesses to convict.

    In our society it is a punishable offense as soon as investigation is documented for a court proceeding. With JW's I don't know? They handle things amongst themselves. But I would hope someone at school would intercede for the child.
  • Ann Anglin on Deuteronomy 19
    To:::::Disciple....How true ur my brother. We sometimes change Gods words n intension to suit our purpose "Then quote the Bible n say God said so" But wow, my/.Our Gods watching.rnHe gives us lots of time n chances to mend our ways n seek His face Hes God we're not as We will come under His Righteous Anger.May God Bless n keep UsAll
  • Abc7 on Deuteronomy 19
    deuteronomy is part of the old testament and the old system of things, before Jesus Christ was born. Jesus Christ marks the beginning of the new system of things and the new testament.
  • Gio Rod - in Reply on Deuteronomy 19
    SO the Babylon system, New testament is a product of Masonry. God's word and law never changes. A lot of you are deceived and worshipping a false idol without even realizing it because of your indoctrination. I recommend you take heed to the word of God, his original word that never changes and repent. Isaiah 14:12, Rev 22:16 the truth is in plain sight. But some will refute it because of pride.
  • A disciple on Deuteronomy 19
    BSP; Now compare that to what is called a Sanctuary City today! In the Bible it was intended to be a mercy for someone who accidentally killed a person; like an accident at work. But NOT for a lawless group of people to protect another lawless group of people from their own Country's Law Enforcement!
  • Verse 3: We see how loving and merciful Jehovah God is. He commanded that a way be prepared for the unintentional murderer so that they can flee to the cities of refuge.
  • Nutel on Deuteronomy 19
    I agree that the chapter is so about, directions, justice, fairness, patience, forgiveness, conscience, conviction all these things we must have and keep and exemplify them in
    our lives at all times everyday.
  • Emmanuel on Deuteronomy 19
    very hard but must learn for church


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