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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Deuteronomy 19

 

 

Introduction

Deuteronomy 12-26, 28. A code of laws (Deuteronomy 1-26) followed by promises to the obedient and threats of punishment for the rest (Deuteronomy 28): see Introd., p. 231. The great Deuteronomic law of one sanctuary is taught or implied in Deuteronomy 12:1 to Deuteronomy 19:13 and hardly in any other part of Dt. This section may, therefore, represent essentially the original Deuteronomic code (see Introd.).


Verses 1-13

Deuteronomy 19:1-13. The cities of refuge (lit. of reception, Numbers 35:12 P) were in criminal law the substitute for the local, now disestablished, sanctuaries, each sanctuary in ancient times affording temporary protection for criminals whose guilt was not obvious (Numbers 35*, Joshua 20*). British churches have served the same purpose, (cf. the Sanctuary Knocker of Durham Cathedral and Frithstool of Beverley Minster and of Hexham Abbey). Blood revenge was the police of the primitive Aryan and Semitic peoples, and it needed such restraint as the law of asylum supplied. For the earlier law, see Exodus 21:12-14* (JE), and for the later, Numbers 35 and Joshua 20:1-6 (both P). The need for this law arose through the operation of the principle of one sanctuary. In Deuteronomy 19:1-7 Moses commands the establishment of three such cities W. of the Jordan, when the Israelites have settled in Canaan—no doubt on the sites of disused sanctuaries. When, however, Yahweh has extended their territory (Deuteronomy 19:8-10, see Deuteronomy 19:17), they are to appoint three other cities of refuge, almost certainly E. of the Jordan. Numbers 35:13 ff. speaks of six such cities, three E. and three W. of the Jordan.

Deuteronomy 19:8-10 may be an addition based on Numbers 35:13 ff., as Deuteronomy 4:41-43 almost certainly is.

Deuteronomy 19:11-13 provides sufficient security against the abuse of the right of asylum.


Verses 14-21

Deuteronomy 19:14 to Deuteronomy 25:19. Consists of miscellaneous laws having no apparent connexion with D's great law of the centralisation of worship. They deal with crime, war, marriage, family relations, and other matters. This part of Dt. is perhaps made up of additions appended from time to time to the original code, and for that reason has double versions of the same laws (cf. Deuteronomy 20:7 and Deuteronomy 24:5) and double references to the same thing (cf. Deuteronomy 20:1-20 and Deuteronomy 21:10-14, Deuteronomy 23:9-14). Cf. the miscellaneous character of the books in the third canon of the OT (the Kethubim or Hagiographa, p. 38).

Deuteronomy 19:14. In the East plots of ground belonging to different owners were conterminous, not separated by hedges (as in Great Britain) or canals (as in Holland), and were frequent subjects of dispute. See Hosea 5:10. Cf. the Roman god Terminus and the sacred character of boundary stones among the Babylonians and other ancient peoples (Clay Trumbull, The Threshold Covenant, pp. 166f.).

Deuteronomy 19:15-21. See Deuteronomy 17:6.

Deuteronomy 19:16. an unrighteous Witness: Heb. "a witness intending violence."

Deuteronomy 19:17. before the Lord (Yahweh): i.e. at the central tribunal (Deuteronomy 17:9, cf. Deuteronomy 12:7).

Deuteronomy 19:21. Lex talionis: see Exodus 21:24* (JE), cf. Leviticus 24:18; Leviticus 24:20 (H), CH, 192, 195, 218, 232-235; Quran, 2:273ff., cf. Matthew 5:38.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 19:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/deuteronomy-19.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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