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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Deuteronomy 19

A.M. 2553. B.C. 1451.

Of the cities of refuge, Deuteronomy 19:1-10 . Of wilful murderers, Deuteronomy 19:11-13 . Of removing landmarks, Deuteronomy 19:14 . Of witnesses, true, Deuteronomy 19:15 , or false, Deuteronomy 19:16-21 .

Verse 1

Deuteronomy 19:1. From enforcing the laws enacted against idolatry, and calculated to preserve and promote the purity of divine worship, Moses now proceeds to inculcate some important duties belonging to the second table, but not in any exact order, nor without interspersing some precepts respecting ceremonial matters. He begins with some regulations appointed to secure the preservation of the most important part of the property of a fellow- creature, his life.

Verse 2

Deuteronomy 19:2. Thou shalt separate three cities for thee There were to be six cities of refuge in all, but Moses had already appointed three on that side of Jordan where they now were. See Numbers 35:14-15;

Deuteronomy 4:41. In the midst of thy land That is, in the midst of the several parts or districts of thy land, or within thy land; for had they been all three in the very heart of the country, the very intention of them would have been counteracted: which was, that they should be so conveniently placed in several parts of the country, that men might easily and speedily flee to them.

Verse 3

Deuteronomy 19:3. Thou shalt prepare thee a way Make a plain road to them, keep it in good repair, and distinguish it by evident marks, to prevent delays and mistakes, that the manslayer might meet with no difficulty in escaping to the nearest city. And divide the coasts of thy land Thy possessions on the west of Jordan into three equal parts, and in the central part of each open a place of refuge, which being nearly at an equal distance with respect to the inhabitants of that district, all might have the same benefit by it.

Verses 8-9

Deuteronomy 19:8-9. If the Lord thy God enlarge thy coast As far as the Euphrates. If thou shalt keep all these commandments This shows that the promise of enlarging their border was conditional, and the condition not being performed the promise was never accomplished, so that there was no need for three more cities of refuge. This the Jewish writers themselves own. “Yet the holy blessed God,” say they, “did not command it in vain, for in the days of Messiah the Prince, they shall be added.” They expect it in the letter: but we know it has in Christ its spiritual accomplishment. For the borders of the gospel Israel are enlarged according to the promise: and in the Lord our righteousness, refuge is provided for all that by faith flee to him.

Verse 12

Deuteronomy 19:12. The elders of his city The city of the manslayer. The sense is, that upon any information or suspicion of murder, laid against any one that had taken refuge in any of these cities, the magistrates of the town or district where the fact was committed, should send for the person out of the refuge-city, bring him to a fair trial, and, upon clear evidence of wilful murder, condemn him to death, and cause execution to be done without fear, partiality, or affection; as they valued the divine blessing, and desired to be free of the guilt of innocent blood, which otherwise would be required at their hands.

Verse 14

Deuteronomy 19:14. Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s land-mark Having provided for the preservation of the lives of innocent persons against such as might be disposed to take them away, he proceeds to give a charge for securing every man’s right and property in other matters; and especially forbids all encroachments upon boundaries of lands and estates. Josephus considers this as a prohibition, not only against removing any land-mark of an Israelite, but also any that might distinguish their territories from those of any of the neighbouring nations, with whom they might be at peace, the breaking in upon these bounds being generally the occasion of wars and insurrections, which arise from the covetousness of men, who would thus fraudulently enlarge their possessions.

Verses 15-17

Deuteronomy 19:15-17. One witness shall not rise up Or, be established, as the same word is rendered in the end of the verse; that is, shall not be accepted or owned as sufficient. If a false witness rise up A single witness, though he speak truth, is not to be accepted for the condemnation of another man; but if he be convicted of bearing false witness, it is sufficient for his own condemnation. Both the men shall stand before the Lord That is, shall come to the supreme court, which consisted partly of priests, and partly of other great persons, who, it seems, in Moses’s time, sat at the door of the tabernacle, and so the men, in standing before them, might properly be said to stand before the Lord.

Verse 21

Deuteronomy 19:21. An eye for an eye What punishment the law allotted to the accused, if he had been convicted, the same was the false accuser to bear.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 19". Benson's Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/deuteronomy-19.html. 1857.