Deuteronomy 19 deals with the establishment of cities of refuge for individuals who commit manslaughter unintentionally and sets forth laws to ensure integrity and fairness in legal proceedings. This chapter is crucial in promoting justice and providing sanctuary, reflecting the compassionate and just nature of Israelite law. Key aspects include:
Cities of Refuge for Manslaughter: The chapter begins with instructions for setting aside three cities of refuge where someone who has killed another unintentionally can flee for safety. These cities provide protection from the avenger of blood until a trial can be held.
Expansion of Cities of Refuge: Moses also mentions that if God enlarges their territory, as promised, they are to add three more cities to prevent the shedding of innocent blood in their land.
 Distinction Between Murder and Manslaughter: The chapter makes a clear distinction between intentional murder and accidental killing. Intentional murderers are not to find asylum in these cities and must be handed over for execution to uphold justice.
Laws Concerning Witnesses: Deuteronomy 19 sets out laws regarding witnesses in legal cases. No one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness; a matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
Punishment for False Witnesses: If a false witness is found to have given false testimony against someone, the false witness must receive the same punishment that would have been given to the accused. This law acts as a deterrent against giving false testimony.
Principle of 'Life for Life': The chapter concludes with the principle of "life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot," emphasizing the importance of proportionate justice and the prevention of excessive retribution.
Deuteronomy 19 is integral in highlighting the Israelite legal system's commitment to justice, protection of the innocent, and prevention of blood vengeance. The establishment of cities of refuge shows a nuanced understanding of human behavior and accidents, while the laws on witnesses underscore the importance of honesty and integrity in judicial matters. This chapter reflects the societal values of fairness, truth, and responsibility in legal proceedings.

Deuteronomy 19

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.

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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.

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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.

End of Deuteronomy 19

1 Year Plan:  Mar 22 - Deut 18, Deut 19,  Ps 34

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