Deuteronomy chapter 19

Cities of Refuge. Property boundaries. Witnesses.





VERSE 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,

When. Not if, but when.

The LORD God is indeed going to bring them into the Promised Land.


VERSE 2. you shall set apart three cities for yourselves in the middle of your land, which the LORD your God gives you to possess.

set apart three cities. There are to be three cities of refuge.

But in verse 9 below, they will be required to have three more, for a total of six. And in the fullness of time, they will indeed have six.


VERSE 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.


VERSE 4. This is the case of the man slayer who shall flee there and live: Whoever kills his neighbor unintentionally, and didn’t hate him in time past—

kills his neighbor unintentionally. This person accidentally caused somebody to die.


VERSE 5. as when a man goes into the forest with his neighbor to chop wood and his hand swings the ax to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle and hits his neighbor so that he dies—he shall flee to one of these cities and live.

flee to one of these cities and live. These are refugee cities.


VERSE 6. Otherwise, the avenger of blood might pursue the man slayer while hot anger is in his heart 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.


VERSE 7. Therefore I command you to set apart three cities for yourselves.


VERSE 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;


VERSE 9. and 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, in addition to these three.

add three cities more. In verse 2 above, they were required to have three. This verse requires they have three more. That makes for a total of six.

And in the fullness of time, they will indeed have six.

East of  the Jordan River:

  • Bosor
  • Golan
  • Ramoth

West of the Jordan River:

  • Hebron
  • Kedesh
  • Shechem


VERSE 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.

innocent blood will not be shed. An innocent person shall not be put to death.


VERSE 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;


VERSE 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.


VERSE 13. Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall purge the innocent blood from Israel that it may go well with you.




VERSE 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.




VERSE 15. One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin that he sins. At the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall a matter be established.

shall a matter be established. Authorities are duty-bound to investigate important matters that are made known.


VERSE 16. If an unrighteous witness rises up against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing,


VERSE 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;


VERSE 18. and the judges shall make diligent inquisition; and behold, if the witness is a false witness, and has testified falsely against his brother,


VERSE 19. then you shall do to him as he had thought to do to his brother. So you shall remove the evil from among you.


VERSE 20. Those who remain shall hear, and fear, and will never again commit any such evil among you.


VERSE 21. Your eyes shall not pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

eye for eye. Mohandas K. Gandhi famously remarked:

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.


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