Deuteronomy 17:8
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge--whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults--take them to the place the LORD your God will choose.

New Living Translation
"Suppose a case arises in a local court that is too hard for you to decide--for instance, whether someone is guilty of murder or only of manslaughter, or a difficult lawsuit, or a case involving different kinds of assault. Take such legal cases to the place the LORD your God will choose,

English Standard Version
“If any case arises requiring decision between one kind of homicide and another, one kind of legal right and another, or one kind of assault and another, any case within your towns that is too difficult for you, then you shall arise and go up to the place that the LORD your God will choose.

New American Standard Bible
"If any case is too difficult for you to decide, between one kind of homicide or another, between one kind of lawsuit or another, and between one kind of assault or another, being cases of dispute in your courts, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the LORD your God chooses.

King James Bible
If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose;

Holman Christian Standard Bible
If a case is too difficult for you--concerning bloodshed, lawsuits, or assaults--cases disputed at your gates, you must go up to the place the LORD your God chooses.

International Standard Version
"If a case is too difficult for you to decide with respect to bloodshed, civil claims, assault and battery, or other matters of dispute within your courts, bring it to the place that the LORD your God will choose.

NET Bible
If a matter is too difficult for you to judge--bloodshed, legal claim, or assault--matters of controversy in your villages--you must leave there and go up to the place the LORD your God chooses.

New Heart English Bible
If there arises a matter too hard for you in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within your gates; then you shall arise, and go up to the place which the LORD your God shall choose;

GOD'S WORD® Translation
There may be a case that is too hard for you to decide. It may involve murder, assault, or a dispute-any case which may be brought to court in your cities. Take this case to the place that the LORD your God will choose.

JPS Tanakh 1917
If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, even matters of controversy within thy gates; then shalt thou arise, and get thee up unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose.

New American Standard 1977
“If any case is too difficult for you to decide, between one kind of homicide or another, between one kind of lawsuit or another, and between one kind of assault or another, being cases of dispute in your courts, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the LORD your God chooses.

Jubilee Bible 2000
If a matter arises that is too difficult for thee in judgment between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates, then thou shalt arise and go up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose,

King James 2000 Bible
If there arise a matter too hard for you in judgment, between bloodsheds, between legal rights, and between assaults, being matters of controversy within your gates: then shall you arise, and get you up into the place which the LORD your God shall choose;

American King James Version
If there arise a matter too hard for you in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within your gates: then shall you arise, and get you up into the place which the LORD your God shall choose;

American Standard Version
If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates; then shalt thou arise, and get thee up unto the place which Jehovah thy God shall choose;

Douay-Rheims Bible
If thou perceive that there be among you a hard and doubtful matter in judgment between blood and blood, cause and cause, leprosy and leprosy: and thou see that the words of the judges within thy gates do vary: arise, and go up to the place, which the Lord thy God shall choose.

Darby Bible Translation
If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between cause and cause, and between stroke and stroke, matters of controversy within thy gates, then shalt thou arise, and go up to the place which Jehovah thy God will choose.

English Revised Version
If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose;

Webster's Bible Translation
If there shall arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and go up to the place which the LORD thy God shall choose;

World English Bible
If there arises a matter too hard for you in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within your gates; then you shall arise, and go up to the place which Yahweh your God shall choose;

Young's Literal Translation
'When anything is too hard for thee for judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke -- matters of strife within thy gates -- then thou hast risen, and gone up unto the place on which Jehovah thy God doth fix,
Study Bible
Courts of Law
7"The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. 8"If any case is too difficult for you to decide, between one kind of homicide or another, between one kind of lawsuit or another, and between one kind of assault or another, being cases of dispute in your courts, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the LORD your God chooses. 9"So you shall come to the Levitical priest or the judge who is in office in those days, and you shall inquire of them and they will declare to you the verdict in the case.…
Cross References
Exodus 18:15
Moses said to his father-in-law, "Because the people come to me to inquire of God.

Exodus 22:8
"If the thief is not caught, then the owner of the house shall appear before the judges, to determine whether he laid his hands on his neighbor's property.

Deuteronomy 12:5
"But you shall seek the LORD at the place which the LORD your God will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come.

Deuteronomy 12:11
then it shall come about that the place in which the LORD your God will choose for His name to dwell, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution of your hand, and all your choice votive offerings which you will vow to the LORD.

Deuteronomy 25:1
"If there is a dispute between men and they go to court, and the judges decide their case, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked,

2 Chronicles 19:10
"Whenever any dispute comes to you from your brethren who live in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and ordinances, you shall warn them so that they may not be guilty before the LORD, and wrath may not come on you and your brethren. Thus you shall do and you will not be guilty.

Psalm 122:5
For there thrones were set for judgment, The thrones of the house of David.

Ezekiel 44:24
"In a dispute they shall take their stand to judge; they shall judge it according to My ordinances. They shall also keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed feasts and sanctify My sabbaths.

Haggai 2:11
"Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'Ask now the priests for a ruling:

Malachi 2:7
"For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
Treasury of Scripture

If there arise a matter too hard for you in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within your gates: then shall you arise, and get you up into the place which the LORD your God shall choose;

arise

Deuteronomy 1:17 You shall not respect persons in judgment; but you shall hear the …

Exodus 18:26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought …

1 Kings 3:16-28 Then came there two women, that were harlots, to the king, and stood …

2 Chronicles 19:8-10 Moreover in Jerusalem did Jehoshaphat set of the Levites, and of …

Haggai 2:11 Thus said the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying,

Malachi 2:7 For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek …

between blood

Deuteronomy 19:4,10,11 And this is the case of the slayer, which shall flee thither, that …

Exodus 21:12-14,20,22,28 He that smites a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death…

Exodus 22:2 If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there …

Numbers 35:11,16,19 Then you shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; …

get thee up

Deuteronomy 12:5 But to the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all …

Deuteronomy 19:17 Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before …

Psalm 122:4,5 Where the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, to the testimony …

Deuteronomy 17:8-20. THE SUPREMACY IN ISRAEL OF THE WRITTEN LAW OF GOD.

(8) If there arise a matter too hard for thee.--Literally, too wonderful.

Between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke.--The "blood" and the "plea" seem to indicate criminal and civil cases. The word "stroke" is the common word for "plague" in the Pentateuch and elsewhere. It may possibly refer to cases of ceremonial purity or impurity, especially in reference to disease. There is an evident allusion to this law in the history of King Jehoshaphat (2Chronicles 19:8-10). There the words are "between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and judgments." The questions are (1) between two contending parties; (2) between the law as a general rule and its application to particular duties, institutions and requirements. Other passages in the same chapter recall Deuteronomy 16:18-20.

Matters of controversy within thy gates--i.e., in the local courts of their several cities. The "gate" was the place of judgment. In 2Chronicles 19:10, the phrase is more clearly expressed, thus, "what cause soever shall come unto you of your brethren that dwell in their cities."

Into the place which the Lord thy God shall choose.--This implies what was afterwards ordered before Moses' death, that the standard copy of the Law would be kept beside the Ark of the Covenant, in the sacred place (Deuteronomy 31:26).

(9) Thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites--i.e., "the priests that come of the tribe of Levi" (Rashi). Some modern critics say the writer of Deuteronomy knew no distinction between priests and Levites; but see above on Deuteronomy 11:6, and also the notes on Deuteronomy 31:9; Deuteronomy 31:25.

The priests, the Levites, and . . . the judge.--The order agrees exactly with the constitution which Moses left behind him at his death. This has been already indicated in Numbers 27:15-21. Joshua was to "stand before Eleazar." Eleazar was to ask counsel from Jehovah, and at his word Joshua and all the people were to go in and out. The order, when the two are mentioned together in the Book of Joshua, is invariably "Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun," not vice vers. The priests are the custodians of the Law; the judge or chief magistrate is the executor of it. (Comp. Malachi 2:7-8.) The principle is not altered by the substitution of a king for the judge, or by the addition of a prophet.

That shall be in those days.--Rashi and the New Testament are curiously agreed in the application of this part of the commandment. Our Lord, in Matthew 23:2-3, says of the Scribes and Pharisees (the judges of His day) that they "sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do." Rashi says here, "Although he is not like the rest of the judges that were before him, thou must hearken to him. There is no judge for thee except the judge that is in thy days."

(9-11) And they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment . . . According to the sentence of the law . . . thou shalt do.--This passage should be carefully noted. The function of the priest and judge was to show, inform, teach, and tell the applicant the sentence of the law, i.e., of the written law. The four English verbs have only three equivalents in Hebrew, viz., tell, teach and say. It is not sufficiently observed that this defines the relation between the Church and the Bible from the time the Law (which was the germ of the Bible) was delivered to the Church, and that the relation between the Church and the Bible is the same to this day. The only authority wherewith the Church (of Israel, or of Christ) can "bind" or "loose," is the written Law of God. The binding (or forbidding) and loosing (or permitting) of the Rabbis--the authority which our Lord committed to His Church--was only the application of His written word. The Rabbis acknowledge this from one end of the Talmud to the other by the appeal to Scripture which is made in every page, sometimes in almost every line. The application is often strained or fanciful; but that does not alter the principle. The written word is the chain that binds. Nor does the varying relation between the executive and legislative authority alter the principle. Where the law of Jehovah is the law of the land, death may be the penalty of disobedience. Where it is only the law of the Christian community, exclusion may be the extreme penalty that is possible. But still the relation between the written word and the ministers of the Church is the same. The Church is the "witness and keeper of Holy Writ," and can only shew from thence the sentence of judgment. The sentence is an application of the law, not a mere invention of the authorities themselves; and it would be easy to show from history how every misapplication of the Divine code brought with it surely, sooner or later, its own refutation, and the overthrow of the unfaithful government. The prophets not seldom took the place of tribunes of the people in cases of oppression. No one lifted up a more distinct protest from the law itself against the misapplication of the law than the Prophet like unto Moses, who formally acknowledged the authority of them that sat in Moses' seat.[3]

[3] Manifestly, when copies of the Law were scarce, and when a good deal of it, like this Book of Deuteronomy, was general, and even prophetic, a board of authorised interpreters, or appliers, of the law to matters of detail was an absolute necessity. (See Introduction to Deuteronomy for more on this head.)

(12) And the man that will do presumptuously . . . shall die.--This word "presumptuously" occurs for the first time in this place. (See also Deuteronomy 18:22.) It is connected with "pride," and denotes a proud self-assertion against the law. The penalty of death arises necessarily out of the theocracy. If God is the king of the nation, rebellion against His law is treason, and if it be proud and wilful rebellion, the penalty of death is only what we should expect to see inflicted. As soon as the law of Jehovah is in any way separated from the law of the land, this state of things may be altered. It is remarkable that in Ezra's commission from Artaxerxes we find permission to identify the law of Jehovah with the law of the Persian empire to the full extent of this precept, "Whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, banishment, confiscation of goods, or imprisonment" (Ezra 7:25-26.) But such penalties, except in a theocratic government, are obviously out of place in matters connected with religion.

Verses 8-13. - So long as Moses was with the people, they had in him one to whom, in the last resort, cases might be brought for decision which were found too difficult for the ordinary judges (Exodus 18:19-26). But, as he was not to be always with them, it was needful to provide a supreme court, to which such cases might be carried when they could no longer be decided by him; and such a court is here appointed to be held at the sanctuary. Verse 8. - A matter too hard for thee; literally, too marvelous; something extraordinary, and which could not be decided by the ordinary rules of the judicature. Between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke; i.e. in cases where blood had been shed and death had ensued, either accidentally or from murderous intent (cf. Exodus 21:13, etc.; Numbers 35:9, etc.); in cases of disputed rights and claims (cf. 2 Chronicles 19:10); and in cases where corporeal injury had been suffered, whether in strife or from assault (Exodus 21:18, etc.); and, in general, wherever matters of controversy - disputes as to what was lawful and right, might arise in their towns and villages. In all such cases recourse was to be had to the court at the sanctuary - "to the priests the Levites," i.e. the priests who were of the tribe of Levi, and to the judge presiding there - the lay judge associated with the high priest as president (see Oehler, in Herzog's 'Encyclop.,' vol. 5. p. 58). It is not intended by this that an appeal was to lie from the lower court to the higher, or that the parties in a suit might carry it at once to the supreme judge; the meaning rather is that, when the ordinary judges found a case too difficult for them to deal with, they were themselves to transmit it to the supreme court for decision. If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment,.... This is spoken to inferior judges in cities in the country, who sometimes might have cases too wonderful and mysterious, as the word signifies, or secret and hidden, such as were out of their reach and beyond their capacity, and so be very difficult for them to determine what should be done:

between blood and blood; that is, whether a man is guilty of shedding innocent blood or not; when such a case is depending between a person charged with it and the relatives of the deceased, or between a man slayer and the avenger of blood, and the question is, whether he may have the benefit of a city of refuge or not, and there are some circumstances attending it which make it difficult how to determine:

between plea and plea; of the plaintiff on one side and of the defendant on the other, and both have so much to say in their own cause, that it is hard to decide which is in the right and which is in the wrong, whether in capital or pecuniary cases; it chiefly if not solely respects civil things in controversy:

and between stroke and stroke; blow or wound which one man received from another, and for which he commences a suit of law upon it, Exodus 21:18 or for assault and battery; and so Aben Ezra interprets it of blows and bruises; but the Jewish writers generally interpret it of the plague, or stroke of leprosy; so the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem; but the examination of such a case did not belong to the civil magistrate, but to a priest; nor was such a person had up to Jerusalem to be searched, but was shut up in a house until further evidence could be got; and, besides, the signs of the leprosy are so distinctly given, that at waiting a proper time, there was seldom or ever any difficulty about determining it:

being matter of controversy within thy gates; or what are matters of controversy about anything else; for the phrase is general, as Aben Ezra observes, and takes in everything in which anything difficult might occur; so Jarchi interprets it of things which the wise men of a city are divided about; one pronounces a person or thing unclean, another clean, one condemning and another justifying, and so far rightly; for this respects not controversies between men, that may be brought into courts of judicature, but controversies or divisions arising in these courts upon them, between the judges themselves, they not agreeing in their opinions:

then shalt thou arise and get thee up into the place which the Lord thy God shall choose; to Jerusalem, to the great sanhedrim or court of judicature, to which the inferior judges were to apply themselves, in matters of moment and difficulty, for instruction, information, and direction; it being supposed that in such a court such like cases may have been brought before them, and they were expert and understanding in them. De 17:8-13. The Priests and Judges to Determine Controversies.

8-13. If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment—In all civil or criminal cases, where there was any doubt or difficulty in giving a decision, the local magistrates were to submit them by reference to the tribunal of the Sanhedrim—the supreme council, which was composed partly of civil and partly of ecclesiastical persons. "The priests and Levites," should rather be "the priests—the Levites"; that is, the Levitical priests, including the high priest, who were members of the legislative assembly; and who, as forming one body, are called "the judge." Their sittings were held in the neighborhood of the sanctuary because in great emergencies the high priest had to consult God by Urim (Nu 27:21). From their judgment there was no appeal; and if a person were so perverse and refractory as to refuse obedience to their sentences, his conduct, as inconsistent with the maintenance of order and good government, was then to be regarded and punished as a capital crime.17:8-13 Courts of judgment were to be set up in every city. Though their judgment had not the Divine authority of an oracle, it was the judgment of wise, prudent, experienced men, and had the advantage of a Divine promise.
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