Deuteronomy 17:9
And you shall come to the priests the Levites, and to the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire; and they shall show you the sentence of judgment:
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
Deuteronomy 17:9. Unto the priests — That is, unto the great council, which consisted chiefly of the priests and Levites, as being the best expositors of the laws of God, by which all those controversies were to be decided. And the high-priest was commonly one of that number, comprehended here under the priests, whereof he was the chief. By judges, here, seems to be meant those supreme judges of the nation, whom God raised up when the Israelites were oppressed by their enemies, such as Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, Samuel, &c. Such judges were, by their office, invested with the highest authority, civil as well as military; for to judge Israel was to administer justice, as well as to command armies. Moses seems to intimate, that the Hebrew commonwealth was to retain, after his death, the same form as it had now when he was alive; for he himself was the supreme judge, or administrator of justice, to whom the more difficult causes were to be referred, Deuteronomy 1:17. So Joshua was judge after him, and many other.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.

Unto the priests the Levites, i.e. unto the great council, which it is here denominated from, because it consisted chiefly of the priests and Levites, as being the best expositors of the laws of God, by which all those controversies mentioned Deu 17:8 were to be decided. And the high priest was commonly one of that number, and may seem to be understood here under the priests, whereof he was the chief.

Unto the judge: this judge here is either,

1. The supreme civil magistrate, who was made by God the keeper of both tables, and was by his office to take care of the right administration both of justice and of religion, who was to determine causes and suits by his own skill and authority in civil matters, and by the priests’ direction in spiritual or sacred causes. But this seems obnoxious to some difficulties, because,

1. This judge was obliged to dwell in the place of God’s worship, which the civil magistrate was not, and ofttimes did not.

2. This judge was one whose office it was to expound and teach others the law of God, as it here follows, Deu 17:11, therefore not the civil magistrate. Or,

2. The high priest, who was obliged to live in this place, to whom it belonged to determine some at least of those controversies mentioned Deu 17:8, and to teach and expound the law of God. And he may be distinctly named, though he be one of the priests, partly because of his eminency and superiority over the rest of them, as after

all David’s enemies Saul is particularly mentioned, Psalm 18:1; and partly to show that amongst the priests he especially was to be consulted in such cases. But this also seems liable to objections.

1. That he seems to be included under that general expression of the

priests and Levites.

2. That the high priest is never in all the Scripture called simply the judge, but generally called the priest, or the high priest, or chief priest, or the like; and it is most probable if Moses had meant him here, he would have expressed him by some of his usual names and titles, and not by a strange title which was not likely to be understood.

3. That divers controversies between blood and blood, plea and plea, stroke and stroke, were not to be determined by the high priest, but by other persons, as appears by Exodus 18:22 Deu 1:16,17. Or,

3. The sanhedrim or supreme council, which, as was said before, consisted partly of priests, and partly of wise and learned persons of other tribes, as is confessed by all the Jewish and most other writers. And so this is added by way of explication, partly to show that the priests and Levites here mentioned, as the persons to whom all hard controversies are to be referred, are not all the priests and Levites which should reside in Jerusalem, but only such of them as were or should be members of that great council by whom, together with their fellow-members of other tribes, these causes were to be decided; partly to intimate that that great council, which had the chief and final determination of all the above-said controversies, was a mixed assembly, consisting of wise and good men, some ecclesiastical, and some secular; as it was most meet it should be, because many of the causes which were brought unto them were mixed causes. As for the conjunctive particle and, that may be taken either disjunctively for or, as it is Exodus 21:15,17, compared with Matthew 15:4; and Numbers 35:5,6, compared with Matthew 12:37 Leviticus 6:3,5 2 Samuel 2:19,21; or exegetically, for that is, or to wit, as Judges 7:24 1 Samuel 17:40 1 Samuel 28:3 2 Chronicles 35:14; and so the sense may be, the priests, the Levites, or the judge, as it is Deu 17:12; or, the priests, the Levites, that is, the judge, or the judges appointed for this work. And though the word judge be in the singular number, and may seem to denote one person, yet it is only an enallage, or change of the number, the singular for the plural, judges, which is most frequent, as Genesis 3:2,7 49:6 1 Samuel 31:1 1 Kings 10:22 2 Kings 11:10, compared with 2 Chronicles 9:21 23:9 and in the Hebrew, 1 Chronicles 4:42, where divers officers are called one head. And so it is most probably here,

1. Because the following words Which belong to this run altogether in the plural number, they, they, they, &c., here and Deu 17:10,11.

2. Because here is the same enallage in the other branch, the same person or persons being called the priests here, and the priest Deu 17:12.

3. Because for the judge here is put the judges, Deu 19:17, where we have the same phrase used upon the same or a like occasion, the men between whom the controversy is shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days. Nor is it strange, but very fit and reasonable, that so many persons being all united in one body, and to give judgment or sentence by the consent of all, or the greatest part, should be here called by the name of one judge, as indeed they were; and for that reason the priests are spoken of in the plural number, because they were many, as also the other members of that assembly were, and the judge in the singular number, because they all constituted but one judge. The sentence of judgment, Heb. the word or matter of judgment, i.e. the true state and right of the cause, and what judgment or sentence ought to be given in it. Thou shalt come unto the priests, the Levites,.... The priests that are of the tribe of Levi, as the Targum of Jonathan, and so Jarchi; for Aben Ezra says there are priests that are not of the genealogy of Levi; such there were indeed in Jeroboam's time, 1 Kings 12:31. Maimonides (f) observes, that it is ordered that there should be in the great sanhedrim priests and Levites, as it is said: "and thou shalt come unto the priests, and the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire"; judge is here put for judges, of which the great court consisted, being priests, Levites, and Israelites; See Gill on Deuteronomy 16:18, though others think that only a single person is meant, such as Othniel, Ehud, Gideon, Samson, &c. but then as there was not always such an one in being, I should rather think that the judge here, if a single person, is the president or prince of the great sanhedrim, who succeeded Moses, and sat in his place; and of him and his court, the priests, and Levites and Israelites that composed it, inquiry was to be made:

and they shall show thee the sentence of judgment; give their judgment in the difficult case proposed, and declare what is right to be done, and what sentence is to be pronounced.

(f) Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 2. sect. 2.

And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the {f} judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment:

(f) Who will sentence as the priests counsel him by the Law of God.

9. unto the priests the Levites] See on Deuteronomy 10:8, Deuteronomy 18:1. The omission of these words by LXX B is due to careless copying, and in no way supports Steuernagel’s analysis of the text into two laws (see introd. note).

unto the judge that shall be in those days] That is of course either the King, as in 2 Samuel 14:3; 2 Samuel 15:2 ff., 1 Kings 3:16 ff., or some official or officials appointed by him, 2 Samuel 15:3, and Jeremiah 26, according to which Jeremiah was tried, on the complaint of the priests, by the sarim, lay officers or princes, under the King. The plur. is thus used in Deuteronomy 19:17 : the priests and the judges which shall be in those days.

inquire] darash as in Deuteronomy 13:14, q.v.

] Heb. declare to or announce to.

sentence] Heb. word.Verse 9. - Enquire; what, namely, is "the sentence of judgment;" and this the judge should declare. Sentence of judgment; literally, word of right, verbum juris, declaration of what was legally right. If such a case should occur, as that a man or woman transgressed the covenant of the Lord and went after other gods and worshipped them; when it was made known, the facts were to be carefully inquired into; and if the charge were substantiated, the criminal was to be led out to the gate and stoned. On the testimony of two or three witnesses, not of one only, he was to be put to death (see at Numbers 35:30); and the hand of the witnesses was to be against him first to put him to death, i.e., to throw the first stones at him, and all the people were to follow. With regard to the different kinds of idolatry in Deuteronomy 17:3, see Deuteronomy 4:19. (On Deuteronomy 17:4, see Deuteronomy 13:15.) "Bring him out to thy gates," i.e., to one of the gates of the town in which the crime was committed. By the gates we are to understand the open space near the gates, where the judicial proceedings took place (cf. Nehemiah 8:1, Nehemiah 8:3; Job. Deu 29:7), the sentence itself being executed outside the town (cf. Deuteronomy 22:24; Acts 7:58; Hebrews 13:12), just as it had been outside the camp during the journey through the wilderness (Leviticus 24:14; Numbers 15:36), to indicate the exclusion of the criminal from the congregation, and from fellowship with God. The infliction of punishment in Deuteronomy 17:5. is like that prescribed in Deuteronomy 13:10-11, for those who tempted others to idolatry; with this exception, that the testimony of more than one witness was required before the sentence could be executed, and the witnesses were to be the first to lift up their hands against the criminal to stone him, that they might thereby give a practical proof of the truth of their statement, and their own firm conviction that the condemned was deserving of death, - "a rule which would naturally lead to the supposition that no man would come forward as a witness without the fullest certainty or the greatest depravity" (Schnell, das isr. Recht).

(Note: "He assigned this part to the witnesses, chiefly because there are so many whose tongue is so slippery, not to say good for nothing, that they would boldly strangle a man with their words, when they would not dare to touch him with one of their fingers. It was the best remedy, therefore, that could be tried for restraining such levity, to refuse to admit the testimony of any man who was not ready to execute judgment with his own hand" (Calvin).)

המּת (Deuteronomy 17:6), the man exposed to death, who was therefore really ipso facto already dead. "So shalt thou put the evil away," etc.: cf. Deuteronomy 13:6.

Deuteronomy 17:9 Interlinear
Deuteronomy 17:9 Parallel Texts

Deuteronomy 17:9 NIV
Deuteronomy 17:9 NLT
Deuteronomy 17:9 ESV
Deuteronomy 17:9 NASB
Deuteronomy 17:9 KJV

Deuteronomy 17:9 Bible Apps
Deuteronomy 17:9 Parallel
Deuteronomy 17:9 Biblia Paralela
Deuteronomy 17:9 Chinese Bible
Deuteronomy 17:9 French Bible
Deuteronomy 17:9 German Bible

Bible Hub

Deuteronomy 17:8
Top of Page
Top of Page