Deuteronomy 19

1 When the LORD your God cuts off the nations, whose land the LORD your God gives you, and you succeed them, and dwell in their cities, and in their houses; 2 you shall set apart three cities for yourselves in the middle of your land, which the LORD your God gives you to possess it. 3 You shall prepare the way, and divide the borders of your land, which the LORD your God causes you to inherit, into three parts, that every man slayer may flee there. 4 This is the case of the man slayer who shall flee there and live. Whoever kills his neighbor unawares, and didn’t hate him in time past; 5 as when a man goes into the forest with his neighbor to chop wood, and his hand fetches a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle, and lights on his neighbor, so that he dies, he shall flee to one of these cities and live. 6 Otherwise, the avenger of blood might pursue the man slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and strike him mortally; even though he was not worthy of death, because he didn’t hate him in time past. 7 Therefore I command you to set apart three cities for yourselves. 8 If the LORD your God enlarges your border, as he has sworn to your fathers, and gives you all the land which he promised to give to your fathers; 9 if you keep all this commandment to do it, which I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to walk ever in his ways; then you shall add three cities more for yourselves, besides these three. 10 This is so that innocent blood will not be shed in the middle of your land which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance, leaving blood guilt on you. 11 But if any man hates his neighbor, lies in wait for him, rises up against him, strikes him mortally so that he dies, and he flees into one of these cities; 12 then the elders of his city shall send and bring him there, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. 13 Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall purge the innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with you. 14 You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which they of old time have set, in your inheritance which you shall inherit, in the land that the LORD your God gives you to possess. 15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sins. At the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall a matter be established. 16 If an unrighteous witness rises up against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, 17 then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who shall be in those days; 18 and the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness is a false witness, and has testified falsely against his brother; 19 then you shall do to him as he had thought to do to his brother. So you shall remove the evil from amongst you. 20 Those who remain shall hear, and fear, and will never again commit any such evil amongst you. 21 Your eyes shall not pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

(Previous Chapter)    •    (Next Chapter)

Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 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.

Verse 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.

Verses 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.

Back to Top