The Fifth Book of Moses, Called Deuteronomy

Chapter 19

The cities of refuge, 1-3. The privilege thereof for the slayer, 4-13. The land-mark is not to be removed, 14. Two witnesses at the least are required, 15. The punishment of a false witness, 16-21.

1 "When the LORD your God has cut 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 separate three cities for yourself in the midst of your land which the LORD your God gives you to possess it. 3 You shall prepare yourself a way, and divide the limits of your land which the LORD your God gives you to inherit into three parts, so that every slayer may flee there.

4 "And this is the case of the slayer who flees there so that he may live. Whoever kills his neighbor ignorantly, whom he did not hate in time past, 5 As when a man goes into the forest with his neighbor to hew wood, and his hand makes a stroke with the ax to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the helve and falls upon his neighbor so that he dies, he shall flee to one of these cities and live, 6 Lest the avenger of blood pursues the slayer while his heart is hot and overtakes him, because the way is long, and slay him, whereas he was not worthy of death, since he did not hate him in time past. 7 Therefore, I command you, saying, 'You shall separate three cities for yourself.'

8 "And if the LORD your God enlarges your limits, 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 these commandments to do them, which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God and to walk ever in his ways, then you shall add three cities more for yourself, besides these three, 10 So that innocent blood may not be shed in your land, which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance, and so blood is upon you.

11 "But if any man hates his neighbor, and lies in wait for him, rises up against him, and smites 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 from there and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, so that he may die. 13 Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall remove the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, so that it may be 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 it.

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, the matter shall be established. 16 If a false witness rises 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, and 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. Thus you shall remove the evil from among you. 20 And those who remain shall hear and fear, and shall no more from now on commit any such evil among you. 21 And your eye shall not pity. But life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot."


Matthew Henry Commentary - Deuteronomy, Chapter 19[➚]


[v.15] - Quoted in Matthew 18:16; 2nd Corinthians 13:1. Reference, John 8:17; 1st Timothy 5:19.

[v.21] - Quoted in Matthew 5:38.