At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Deuteronomy 17:6. Witnesses — Namely, credible and competent witnesses. The Jews rejected the testimonies of children, women, servants, familiar friends, or enemies, persons of dissolute lives or evil fame.Deuteronomy 13:1 ff. Here special reference is made to the legal forms to be adopted, Deuteronomy 17:5-7. The sentence was to be carried into effect at "the gates" (compare Genesis 19:1 note) of the town in which the crime was committed; because, as "all the people" were to take a part, an open space would be requisite for the execution. Note the typical and prophetical aspect of the injunction; compare Acts 7:58; Hebrews 13:12.
2-7. If there be found among you … man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness—The grand object contemplated in choosing Israel was to preserve the knowledge and worship of the one true God; and hence idolatry of any kind, whether of the heavenly bodies or in some grosser form, is called "a transgression of His covenant." No rank or sex could palliate this crime. Every reported case, even a flying rumor of the perpetration of so heinous an offense, was to be judicially examined; and if proved by the testimony of competent witnesses, the offender was to be taken without the gates and stoned to death, the witnesses casting the first stone at him. The object of this special arrangement was partly to deter the witnesses from making a rash accusation by the prominent part they had to act as executioners, and partly to give a public assurance that the crime had met its due punishment.At the mouth, i.e. upon the testimony delivered upon oath before the magistrates.
Three witnesses, to wit, credible and competent witnesses. The Jews rejected the testimonies of madmen. children, women, servants, familiar friends, or enemies, persons of dissolute lives and evil fame.
but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death; so careful is the Lord of the lives of men, that none should be taken away but upon full and sufficient evidence, even in cases in which his own glory and honour is so much concerned.At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. At the mouth of two witnesses or at the mouth of three witnesses] So Sam. and LXX, as in Deuteronomy 19:15, where the law, here applied to a particular case, is more generally stated. Cp. P, Numbers 35:30.Verses 6, 7. - Only on the testimony of more than one witness could the accused be condemned (of Numbers 35:30); and the hand of the witnesses was to be first against him to put him to death - a rule which would tend to prevent accusations being lightly adduced, as none would venture to witness against any one unless so deeply convinced of his guilt that they were willing to assume the responsibility of inflicting on him the last penalty with their own hands. Worthy of death be put to death; i.e. adjudged or appointed to death; literally, the dead man shall die. מֵת, the part. of מוּת, to die, is here equivalent to בֶּן מָוֶת, son of death (1 Samuel 20:31), or אִישׁ מָוֶת, a man of death (1 Kings 2:26), i.e. one assigned to death, already the property of death, and so as good as dead. Put the evil away; literally, consume or sweep away the evil. The verb בָּעַר means primarily to consume by burning. Exodus 23:24).
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