DEUTERONOMY LESSON 21
We will begin this lesson in 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
This is, of course, speaking of the land after it is taken by
Israel. Notice, it is the LORD that cut off the nations and gave the
land to the Israelites.
Deuteronomy 19:2 "Thou shalt separate three cities for thee in
the midst of thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess
A few chapters back, we saw the LORD have them cut off three
cities on the eastern side of Jordan for the cities of refuge for the
manslayer. These are primarily the same instructions for the west side
of the Jordan. They must be in the middle of the land, to be quick
access to the manslayer.
Deuteronomy 19:3 "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."
This is a place of safety they can go to, and not fear the
revenger, until it is settled whether this was premeditated murder, or
just an accident.
Deuteronomy 19:4 "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;"
This place of safety is for those who have killed someone
accidentally. This is not done from hate or anger, but accidentally.
Deuteronomy 19:5 "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:"
This is just one example of how an accidental death could occur.
It could be any other occurrence that was accidental. The end of the
axe has come off, and accidentally killed his neighbor here. To be
safe from the near relative of the man killing him, he must run to the
city of refuge.
Deuteronomy 19:6 "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."
Sometimes, in the short time after the death, the near relative
might not believe it was an accident. If the manslayer had to go very
far to saftey, the revenger might catch him and kill him. This would
be bad for him and the revenger. If he is not guilty of murder, then
he has died for no reason. The revenger has, also, killed without a
Deuteronomy 19:7 "Wherefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt
separate three cities for thee."
These three cities will be strategically located, so the
manslayer will not have too far to run to safety.
Deuteronomy 19:8 "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;"
These three cities are actually for the present land the LORD had
promised to them. The idea is for them to be placed, where they are
easily reached by all the people.
Deuteronomy 19:9 "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:"
If they keep the commandments of God, He will enlarge their
inheritance. In that case, just three cities would not be enough, and
they will have to find three more cities to make cities of refuge. The
manslayer must have a place of safety close by. The larger the land
is, the more cities of refuge that are necessary.
Deuteronomy 19:10 "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."
If the revenger were to catch the manslayer, before he got to the
city of refuge and killed him, he might be killing an innocent man.
This blood would be on the people's head, because they had not
provided a place as God told them.
Deuteronomy 19:11 "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:"
A person who has committed premeditated murder may run to the
city of refuge for safety, but he will be treated differently, as we
see in the next verse.
Deuteronomy 19:12 "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."
The elders of the city decide if he is innocent, or guilty of
murder. If he is guilty of murder, they let the avenger have him to
Deuteronomy 19:13 "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."
Those who are guilty of premeditated murder, should die by the
hand of the avenger. Innocent blood is different. God will not bless
Israel, if they do not give protection to those of innocent blood.
Deuteronomy 19:14 "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
The landmarks God established are sacred. It is a terrible sin to
move a landmark. Those who move landmarks, are cursed by God.
Deuteronomy 19:15 "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."
We saw in an earlier lesson, where the word of one witness was
not enough to sentence a person to death. This is the same here. It
takes two, or three, witnesses to convict a person. Several witnesses
establish the truth of the accusation.
Deuteronomy 19:16 "If a false witness rise up against any man to
testify against him [that which is] wrong;"
This just means if a man accuses someone of doing something, and
the person accused denies the accusation, it must be proven.
Deuteronomy 19:17 "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;"
We remember the judges and priests are operating in the power and
authority of God. Whatever they decide, is final in the matter.
Deuteronomy 19:18 "And the judges shall make diligent
inquisition: and, behold, [if] the witness [be] a false witness, [and]
hath testified falsely against his brother;"
The judges and the priests look for other witnesses to this
matter. Diligent inquisition shows that they put out an effort to come
to the truth. Perhaps, they will find that the witness is a false
witness. We see in the following verses, what happens in that case.
Deuteronomy 19:19 "Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought
to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from
The false witness will receive whatever punishment would have
been spoken against the one accused. He will have set a trap for
himself. His punishment is what he wished for his neighbor.
Deuteronomy 19:20 "And those which remain shall hear, and fear,
and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you."
This will be a good lesson for those who hear and see what went
on. If they ever desire to speak false accusations against someone,
they will remember this punishment, and not do that evil thing.
Deuteronomy 19:21 "And thine eye shall not pity; [but] life
[shall go] for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot
If the punishment the false accuser was trying to get for the
person he accused was death, then the accuser shall be killed. If the
loss was to be an eye, then the accusers eye will be put out. The same
is true, if it was a tooth, or a hand. Whatever punishment he wanted
for the person he accused, will be the punishment inflicted upon him.
Deuteronomy 21 Questions
1. When is the time they are to do what the LORD told them?
2. How many cities shall they separate?
3. Where are they to be located?
4. Why must they be in the middle of the land?
5. What are the three cities for?
6. Who, of the manslayers, is to be protected here?
7. What is the example of that type of killing, given here?
8. If the way is long, the revenger might __________ the manslayer.
9. If he killed him, he might be killing an __________ man.
10. Is this a request, or a command, of God to separate the cities?
11. What should they do, if their land size increases?
12. What happens to a person, who commits premeditated murder?
13. Who turns him over to the avenger?
14. Thou shalt not move thy neighbor's _____________.
15. The landmarks God established are __________.
16. _______ witness is not enough to cause a person to be stoned to
17. __________ witnesses establish the truth of the accusation.
18. What should be done to those who accuse someone falsely?
19. The judges and priests are operating in the _________ and
___________ of God.
20. What should be the false accuser's punishment?
21. What does the punishment of the false accuser do for the rest of
22. What are some of the examples of his punishment?