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Deuteronomy 19 (Devarim)

Deuteronomy 19

Deuteronomy 19 (Devarim) Summary

Deuteronomy 19 (Devarim) discusses four topics the formations and purpose of the refuge cities, murder (manslaughter and premeditated murder), preserving boundaries, and witnesses.

The refuge cities where three cities designed for a person to flee to if they were a murderer. Our text identifies two types of murderers – accidental and purposeful. YWHW also instructs when they expand and take more of the land, they were to have three additional cities. Seemingly the purpose of these cities where not designed to protect the guilty rather to protect the innocent. In fact, it seems there was judgement for all murderers and if one was found guilty of purposefully taking a life his life would be taken.

Preserving boundaries seemly to a command to set them and to not move them in the future generations.

Witness is established out of the mouth of two or three mouths. The instructions about not being a false witness and the punishment of the false witness. Here is the measure for measure instruction is given.

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Deuteronomy 19 (Devarim) Outline

Deuteronomy 19 (Devarim) can be navigated in three possible ways. (1) Jewish tradition of daily reading called Torah Portions. (2) Rabbi Johnathan Sacks proposed treaty (covenant) layout and finally (3) theme based verses.

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Torah Portions:

  1. Fifth Reading vv. 1 – 13
  2. Sixth Reading vv. 14 -21

Treaty (Covenant):

  1. Stipulations – Specific Provision: The details of the law, with special reference to how they are to be carried out by the people as a whole in the Land of Israel.

Verses Topics:

  1. vv.1-3 – The promise to cut off the other nations in the land, the establishment of the refuge cities, and clearing the way to the refuge cities.
  2. vv.4,5 – Establishment of manslaughter with an example.
  3. vv.6,7 – The right for an angry relative to pursue the manslaughterer and the instruction to build three refuge cities.
  4. vv.8-9 – YHWY’s promise to expand their boarders and the command to have three additional refuge cities.
  5. vv.11-12 – The premeditate murderer is defined and his role in the cities of refuge.
  6. v.13 – No pity for a premediated murderer and command not to allow the spilled innocent blood not be avenged.
  7. v.14 – The instruction of not moving a boundary markers.
  8. v.15 – The instruction of allowing something to be established in by the mouth of two or three witnesses.
  9. vv.16-19 – The instruction concerning a false witness. Witness stands before YHWH, the priest and the judge. If a person is deemed a false witness, then whatever his/her intent towards the other person will be their punishment.
  10. vv.20-21 – Show no pity on a false witness and the establishment of measure for measure.

Deuteronomy 19 (Devarim) Verses

Parsha Shoftim #48
~ Judges~


→ Stipulations – Specific Provision:

1 When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations, whose land the LORD thy God giveth thee, and thou dost succeed them, and dwell 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 the way, and divide the borders of thy land, which the LORD thy God causeth thee to inherit, into three parts, that every manslayer may flee thither.

Notes on Deuteronomy 19:1

Deuteronomy 19:1


4 And this is the case of the manslayer, that shall flee thither and live: whoso killeth his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in time past; 5 as when a man goeth into the forest 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 these cities and live;

6 lest the avenger of blood pursue the manslayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and smite him mortally; whereas he was not deserving 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 border, 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 this commandment to do it, 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 the midst of thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.

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 he flee 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 blood of the innocent 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 a matter be establishment

16 If an unrighteous witness rise up against any man to bear perverted witness against him; 17 then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges that shall be in those days. 18 And the judges shall inquire diligently; 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 purposed to do unto his brother; so shalt thou put away the evil from the midst of thee.

20 And those that remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil in the midst of thee. 21 And thine eye shall not pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

Deuteronomy 19 (Devarim) Verses

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שופטים מח 48

יט  Chapter 19

א כִּֽי־יַכְרִית יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת־הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לְךָ אֶת־אַרְצָם וִֽירִשְׁתָּם וְיָֽשַׁבְתָּ בְעָֽרֵיהֶם וּבְבָֽתֵּיהֶֽם: ב שָׁלוֹשׁ עָרִים תַּבְדִּיל לָךְ בְּתוֹךְ אַרְצְךָ אֲשֶׁר יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לְךָ לְרִשְׁתָּֽהּ: ג תָּכִין לְךָ הַדֶּרֶךְ וְשִׁלַּשְׁתָּ אֶת־גְּבוּל אַרְצְךָ אֲשֶׁר יַנְחִֽילְךָ יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְהָיָה לָנוּס שָׁמָּה כָּל־רֹצֵֽחַ: ד וְזֶה דְּבַר הָֽרֹצֵחַ אֲשֶׁר־יָנוּס שָׁמָּה וָחָי אֲשֶׁר יַכֶּה אֶת־רֵעֵהוּ בִּבְלִי־דַעַת וְהוּא לֹֽא־שׂנֵא לוֹ מִתְּמֹל שִׁלְשֹֽׁם: ה וַֽאֲשֶׁר יָבֹא אֶת־רֵעֵהוּ בַיַּעַר לַחְטֹב עֵצִים וְנִדְּחָה יָדוֹ בַגַּרְזֶן לִכְרֹת הָעֵץ וְנָשַׁל הַבַּרְזֶל מִן־הָעֵץ וּמָצָא אֶת־רֵעֵהוּ וָמֵת הוּא יָנוּס אֶל־אַחַת הֶעָֽרִים־הָאֵלֶּה וָחָֽי: ו פֶּן־יִרְדֹּף גֹּאֵל הַדָּם אַֽחֲרֵי הָֽרֹצֵחַ כִּי יֵחַם לְבָבוֹ וְהִשִּׂיגוֹ כִּֽי־יִרְבֶּה הַדֶּרֶךְ וְהִכָּהוּ נָפֶשׁ וְלוֹ אֵין מִשְׁפַּט־מָוֶת כִּי לֹֽא־שׂנֵא הוּא לוֹ מִתְּמוֹל שִׁלְשֽׁוֹם: ז עַל־כֵּן אָֽנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ לֵאמֹר שָׁלֹשׁ עָרִים תַּבְדִּיל לָֽךְ: ח וְאִם־יַרְחִיב יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת־גְּבֻלְךָ כַּֽאֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע לַֽאֲבֹתֶיךָ וְנָתַן לְךָ אֶת־כָּל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר לָתֵת לַֽאֲבֹתֶֽיךָ: ט כִּֽי־תִשְׁמֹר אֶת־כָּל־הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת לַֽעֲשׂתָהּ אֲשֶׁר אָֽנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם לְאַֽהֲבָה אֶת־יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְלָלֶכֶת בִּדְרָכָיו כָּל־הַיָּמִים וְיָֽסַפְתָּ לְךָ עוֹד שָׁלֹשׁ עָרִים עַל הַשָּׁלשׁ הָאֵֽלֶּה: י וְלֹא יִשָּׁפֵךְ דָּם נָקִי בְּקֶרֶב אַרְצְךָ אֲשֶׁר יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לְךָ נַֽחֲלָה וְהָיָה עָלֶיךָ דָּמִֽים: פ יא וְכִי־יִֽהְיֶה אִישׁ שֹׂנֵא לְרֵעֵהוּ וְאָרַב לוֹ וְקָם עָלָיו וְהִכָּהוּ נֶפֶשׁ וָמֵת וְנָס אֶל־אַחַת הֶֽעָרִים הָאֵֽל: יב וְשָֽׁלְחוּ זִקְנֵי עִירוֹ וְלָֽקְחוּ אֹתוֹ מִשָּׁם וְנָֽתְנוּ אֹתוֹ בְּיַד גֹּאֵל הַדָּם וָמֵֽת: יג לֹֽא־תָחוֹס עֵֽינְךָ עָלָיו וּבִֽעַרְתָּ דַם־הַנָּקִי מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל וְטוֹב לָֽךְ: ס [ששי] יד לֹא תַסִּיג גְּבוּל רֵֽעֲךָ אֲשֶׁר גָּֽבְלוּ רִֽאשֹׁנִים בְּנַֽחֲלָֽתְךָ אֲשֶׁר תִּנְחַל בָּאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לְךָ לְרִשְׁתָּֽהּ: ס טו לֹֽא־יָקוּם עֵד אֶחָד בְּאִישׁ לְכָל־עָוֹן וּלְכָל־חַטָּאת בְּכָל־חֵטְא אֲשֶׁר יֶֽחֱטָא עַל־פִּי ׀ שְׁנֵי עֵדִים אוֹ עַל־פִּי שְׁלשָֽׁה־עֵדִים יָקוּם דָּבָֽר: טז כִּֽי־יָקוּם עֵד־חָמָס בְּאִישׁ לַֽעֲנוֹת בּוֹ סָרָֽה: יז וְעָֽמְדוּ שְׁנֵי־הָֽאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר־לָהֶם הָרִיב לִפְנֵי יְהוָֹה לִפְנֵי הַכֹּֽהֲנִים וְהַשֹּׁפְטִים אֲשֶׁר יִֽהְיוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵֽם: יח וְדָֽרְשׁוּ הַשֹּֽׁפְטִים הֵיטֵב וְהִנֵּה עֵד־שֶׁקֶר הָעֵד שֶׁקֶר עָנָה בְאָחִֽיו: יט וַֽעֲשִׂיתֶם לוֹ כַּֽאֲשֶׁר זָמַם לַֽעֲשׂוֹת לְאָחִיו וּבִֽעַרְתָּ הָרָע מִקִּרְבֶּֽךָ: כ וְהַנִּשְׁאָרִים יִשְׁמְעוּ וְיִרָאוּ וְלֹא־יֹסִפוּ לַֽעֲשׂוֹת עוֹד כַּדָּבָר הָרָע הַזֶּה בְּקִרְבֶּֽךָ: כא וְלֹא תָחוֹס עֵינֶךָ נֶפֶשׁ בְּנֶפֶשׁ עַיִן בְּעַיִן שֵׁן בְּשֵׁן יָד בְּיָד רֶגֶל בְּרָֽגֶל: ס

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Covenant & Conversation Commentary – The Late Chief Rabbi Johnanath Sacks’ last published commentary on the Torah.

The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon – One of the most used Hebrew and English Lexicons among serious Bible students.

Pentateuch & Haftorahs, By. Dr. J.H. Hertz – The Late Chief Rabbi of the British Empire was renowned for his writings and teaches. By many he is considered a must read. In the Preface Dr. Hertz calls this “a People’s Commentary”.

The Holy Scriptures
According to the Masoretic Text
The Jewish Publication Society translation
[1917] – Public Domain