Deuteronomy 21

About murder, a captive wife, rights of the firstborn, and dealing with criminals.
Text
Comments
1 ¶ If one be found slain in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it, lying in the field, and it be not known who hath slain him:
2  Then thy elders and thy judges shall come forth, and they shall measure unto the cities which are round about him that is slain:
3  And it shall be, that the city which is next unto the slain man, even the elders of that city shall take an heifer, which hath not been wrought with, and which hath not drawn in the yoke;
4  And the elders of that city shall bring down the heifer unto a rough valley, which is neither eared nor sown, and shall strike off the heiferís neck there in the valley:
  2 - Elders Presumably from the surrounding cities.
  3 - City ... next Would be in charge of taking care of the body.
  3 - Heifer ... not ... wrought with Or "not worked" nu1902. We would see inexperience or innocence. The animal was standing in the place of the murderer who by prayer and repentance could be pardoned by the blood of Christ. It does not seem like the heifer could represent Christ whose bones were not broken jn1936.
  4 - Rough valley Literally "a valley of never failing water."
  4 - Eared Should read "plowed." See on ge4506.
  4 - Strike off Literally "break."
5  And the priests the sons of Levi shall come near; for them the LORD thy God hath chosen to minister unto him, and to bless in the name of the LORD; and by their word shall every controversy and every stroke be tried:
.6  And all the elders of that city, that are next unto the slain man, shall wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley:
7  And they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it.
8  Be merciful, O LORD, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israelís charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them.
9  So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.
  5 - Priests They would come from the nearest city for the Levites. Perhaps they were to judge those who might been guilty of the crime.
  6 - Elders ... wash their hands They would declare the innocence of their city. We assume that they would have told the Levites if they had had information about who may have been guilty.
  7 - Shall answer See de2714.
  8 - Be merciful The Hebrew word may be translated "to cover" or "to forgive" or, as usually translated, "make an atonement." ex3010, le0420, le0435. The related noun means "mercy seat" ex2517.
  8 - Innocent blood The heifer was innocent v3 yet its blood was shed. It may be seen as a substitute for the innocent people of the nearest city.
  9 - Put away guilt They were not to be accused by anyone of the crime. The text assumes that they were indeed innocent. If they had been guilty it seems that the Lord would have helped the Levites understand this.
10 ¶ When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive,
11  And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;
12  Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;
.13  And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.
14  And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.
  10 - Captives ... woman The waiting time seems to have a purpose. "Inasmuch as the Canaanites were to be wiped out, it is possible that the reference here is a gerneral one referring to future conflicts with the surrounding nations" (SDA Bible Dict. See de2013,14,16). Or this may have been an an exceptioin.
.15 ¶ If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated:
16  Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn:
.17  But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.
  15 - Two wives See on ge16,
.18 ¶ If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
19  Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
20  And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
21  And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
  18 - Rebellious son I picture a son who is old enough to be accountable.
  18 - Chastened The parents have done their part to correct him, hopefully in love. The word often means corporal punishment de0805, pr1918, pr2917.
  19 - Elders ... gate See de1618, de1912 and ge1901. Where he would be tried and judged. I assume that the elders, after hearing his case, could have decided to give him probation.
  20 - This our son They had a responsibility to testify. It would be very hard. They did not have to pronounce the death penalty.
  21 - Stone him ... put evil away It seems like the son would have committed the unpardonable sin and had thus chosen to never repent. Putting away evil was a serious responsibility. By ignoring the problem, others would be influenced and rebellion would have increased. See ec1201.
.22  And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree:
.23  His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.
  22 - Death ... hang him Compare other hangings ge4022, 2sa2112, es0710, es0914. Jweish commentators believe that the person was killed then hung up on a tree.
  This passage would illustrate the humility of Christ on the cross.
  23 - Not ramain all night See ga0310-14. Also mt2743; is5304.


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