Deuteronomy 19

Laws Relating to Crimes

Deuteronomy 19:1-21

These verses deal with the matter of justice for the unintentional killer. Upon entering Canaan the Israelites were to set aside three cities to serve as sanctuaries (19:1-2, 7-9) for those who had unintentionally killed another (19:3-6). The cities of refuge would serve as a haven for an unintentional killer, so that his blood would not be shed by one seeking to avenge the death (19:10).

These verses deal with the matter of justice for the man guilty of deliberately killing another. In such cases the elders of the city in which the slain individual lived could have the killer extradited and handed over to “the avenger of blood, that he may die” (19:12).

This is a one-sentence law prohibiting the removal of a “neighbor’s boundary mark.”

These verses address the matter of witnesses in judicial proceedings. Provision was made for sufficient witnesses to corroborate a crime (19:15) and for malicious witnesses to be punished for their attempt to subvert justice (19:16-20). Deuteronomy 19:21 deals with the law of retribution (see also Exodus 21:23-25 and Leviticus 24:17-22). Read Jesus’ words on this issue in Matthew 5:38-42.

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