Deuteronomy 17:12
And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel.
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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.The cases in question are such as the inferior judges did not feel able to decide satisfactorily, and which accordingly they remitted to their superiors (compare Exodus 18:23-27).

The Supreme court Deuteronomy 17:9 is referred to in very general terms as sitting at the sanctuary Deuteronomy 17:8. "The judge" would no doubt usually be a layman, and thus the court would contain both an ecclesiastical and a civil element. Jehoshaphat 2 Chronicles 19:4-11 organized his judicial system very closely upon the lines here laid down.

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.

That will do presumptuously, i.e. that will proudly and obstinately oppose the sentence given against him. This is opposite to ignorance and error, Exodus 21:13,14.

The evil; either,

1. The evil thing, that scandal, that pernicious example. Or,

2. That evil, refractory, pernicious person, whose practice herein tends to the dissolution of all government, and the ruin of the common-wealth of Israel.

The judge of the country court that makes his application to that at Jerusalem for information and direction; if, after all, he is conceited in his own opinion, and rejects theirs, and is obstinate, and will not be guided and directed, but will take his own way, and pursue his own sense of things, and act according to that:

and will not hearken to the priest that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God; the priests of the tribe of Levi, of whom the court generally consisted, Deuteronomy 17:9, priest for priests; though some think the high priest is meant, to whom the character very well agrees; but he was not always at the head of the sanhedrim, nor indeed a member of it, unless he had the proper qualifications; see Deuteronomy 18:18.

or unto the judge; or judges; See Gill on Deuteronomy 17:9. L'Empereur (g) thinks, that the supreme senate, or grand sanhedrim, was twofold, according to the diversity of ecclesiastic and political matters; since where it treats of the supreme senators, or chief persons in the court, the priest is manifestly distinguished from the judge (i.e. priests or judges); now the man that has asked advice of them, and will not be directed by it, but takes his own way, this being so great a contempt of, and insult upon, the great senate of the nation:

even that man shall die; and this was by strangling, for so the rebellious older, as such an one is called, was to die according to the Misnah (h); and it is said (i), that the death spoken of in the law absolutely (without specifying what kind of death) is strangling:

and thou shall put away the evil from Israel; the evil man that is rebellious against the supreme legislature of the nation, and the evil of contumacy he is guilty of, deterring others from it by his death.

(g) In Misn. Middoth, c. 5. sect. 3.((h) Sanhedrin, c. 10. sect. 2.((i) Maimon. Issure Biah, c. 1. sect. 6.

And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to {h} minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel.

(h) So long as he is the true minister of God, and pronounces according to his word.

12. presumptuously] See on Deuteronomy 1:43 and cp. Deuteronomy 18:20.

unto the priest … or unto the judge] Again no information is given as to how the cases are to be divided between the two. D’s sole interest is to accommodate the procedure of law to the fact of the One Altar.

that standeth to minister, etc.] See on Deuteronomy 10:8.

put away the evil] See on Deuteronomy 13:5 (6).

Deuteronomy 17:12No one was to resist in pride, to refuse to listen to the priest or to the judge. Resistance to the priest took place when any one was dissatisfied with his interpretation of the law; to the judge, when any one was discontented with the sentence that was passed on the basis of the law. Such refractory conduct was to be punished with death, as rebellion against God, in whose name the right had been spoken (Deuteronomy 1:17). (On Deuteronomy 17:13, see Deuteronomy 13:12.)
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