Deuteronomy 19:1
When the LORD thy God hath cut off the nations, whose land the LORD thy God giveth thee, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their cities, and in their houses;
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Deuteronomy 19:1-13. THE CITIES OF REFUGE.

(See for more on this subject, Numbers 35:9, &c.; Joshua 20)

(1) When the Lord thy God hath cut off the nations.—We find that the three cities of refuge on the west of Jordan were appointed by Joshua after the conquest (Joshua 20). The first three on the east of Jordan, namely, Bezer, Ramoth-Gilead, and Golan, had already been selected by Moses (Deuteronomy 4:41, &c), but Joshua assigned them to their Levitical possessors.

(3) Thou shalt prepare thee a way.—Upon this phrase Rashi remarks (from the Talmud) that “Miklot! Miklot (‘Refuge! Refuge!’) was written up at the parting of the ways.”

Divide the coasts of thy land . . . into three parts.—So that no part of the country might be too far from any of the cities of refuge.

(5) As when a man goeth into the wood.—An obvious instance.

(6) The avenger of the blood.—Literally, the redeemer of the blood. The Hebrew, gooël stands for all the three words, “redeemer,” “avenger,” “kinsman.”

(8, 9) if the Lord thy God enlarge thy coast . . . thou shalt add three cities—i.e., thou shalt add three to the six, making nine in all. There is no trace of this ever having been done in the history of Israel. The comments of Jewish writers show that nothing is known of the fact in their literature. Some of them point out that only seven nations were assigned to thehost of Joshua, and that the land occupied by these seven could not have needed more than the six cities. They lay stress upon the words “If He give thee all the land which He promised to give thy fathers” (not merely the seven nations promised to thee). They refer to the Kenites and the Kenizzites and the Kadmonites in particular, as three nations promised to Abraham. It would have been more to the purpose if they had referred to the Hittites. The cities of this people, as recently discovered, from Kedesh on the Orontes to Carchemish, lie to the north of the known territory of Israel. If “all the laud of the Hittites” (Joshua 1:4) had been conquered, the three additional cities might have been required. But though this land seems to have been tributary to Solomon, it was not so occupied by Israel as to necessitate the appointment of three additional cities of refuge. And Solomon’s empire lasted only for his own reign. But without going back to these details, they also take the promise as prophetical; holding that when the Lord has “circumcised their heart” (Deuteronomy 30:6), “to love the Lord,” and given them “one heart and one way to fear Him for ever, and shall make an everlasting covenant with them, and put His fear in their hearts ( Jeremiah 32:39-40) that they shall not depart from Him,” then the promises will be fulfilled. All the land will be given to them, and they will need these other cities. One writer adds, “Blessed is he that waiteth, and shall attain to it,” from Daniel 12:12. Thus the Jews take the passage as prophetic of their ultimate restoration. Evidently it is no addition of later times, but the genuine language of Moses. What later writer would have thought of adding it?

(10) That innocent blood be not shed—i.e., the blood of the manslayer who can find no refuge, and yet is no murderer.

(11) But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him.—Rashi’s comment upon this is in the spirit of St. John: “By way of hatred he comes to lying in wait: and hence it has been said, when a man has transgressed a light commandment, that he will end by transgressing a greater. Therefore when he has broken the commandment, Thou shalt not hate, he will end by coming to bloodshed.” What is this but “He that hateth his brother is a murderer”?

(12) Deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood.—There is as yet no idea of a public trial and execution, which belongs to a more advanced stage of civilisation than this.

(13) Shalt put away.—Literally, consume, or, as it were, burn out.

Deuteronomy 19:1. From enforcing the laws enacted against idolatry, and calculated to preserve and promote the purity of divine worship, Moses now proceeds to inculcate some important duties belonging to the second table, but not in any exact order, nor without interspersing some precepts respecting ceremonial matters. He begins with some regulations appointed to secure the preservation of the most important part of the property of a fellow- creature, his life.

19:1-13 Here is the law settled between the blood of the murdered, and the blood of the murderer; provision is made, that the cities of refuge should be a protection, so that a man should not die for that as a crime, which was not his willing act. In Christ, the Lord our Righteousness, refuge is provided for those who by faith flee unto him. But there is no refuge in Jesus Christ for presumptuous sinners, who go on still in their trespasses. Those who flee to Christ from their sins, shall be safe in him, but not those who expect to be sheltered by him in their sins.This and the next two chapters contain enactments designed to protect human life, and to impress its sanctity on Israel.

In Deuteronomy 19:1-13 the directions respecting the preparation of the roads to the cities of refuge, the provision of additional cities in case of an extension of territory, and the intervention of the elders as representing the congregation, are unique to Deuteronomy and supplementary to the laws on the same subject given in the earlier books (compare the marginal reference).

Deuteronomy 19:1, Deuteronomy 19:2

The three cities of refuge for the district east of Jordan had been already named. Moses now directs that when the territory on the west of Jordan had been conquered, a like allotment of three other cities in it should be made. This was accordingly done; compare Joshua 20:1 ff,


De 19:1-13. Of the Cities of Refuge.The rehearsal of the cities of refuge for him that killeth his neighbour ignorantly, Deu 19:1-10; but he that hateth and killeth his neighbour, though fled into one of these cities, must die, Deu 19:11-13. No removing of old land-marks, Deu 19:14. The number of witnesses, Deu 19:15. The punishment of false witnesses, Deu 19:16-21.

No text from Poole on this verse.

When the Lord thy God hath cut off the nations whose land the Lord thy God giveth thee,.... The seven nations of the land of Canaan, whose destruction was of the Lord for their sins, and whose land was a gift of him that had a right to dispose of it to the children of Israel; see Deuteronomy 12:29.

and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their cities, and in their houses; should possess their land in their stead, by virtue of the gift of it to them by the Lord, and inhabit their cities and houses built by them.

When the LORD thy God hath cut off the nations, whose land the LORD thy God giveth thee, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their cities, and in their houses;
1–3 contain several formulas. On shall cut off, etc., see Deuteronomy 12:29; on whose land the Lord thy God is to give thee and giveth thee to possess it, see Deuteronomy 18:9; on succeed (dispossess), see Deuteronomy 12:29; on causeth thee to inherit, see Deuteronomy 1:38.

Verses 1-13. - Moses had before this enunciated the law concerning cities of refuge for manslayers, and had already pointed out the cities on the east of the Jordan that were to be set apart for this (Numbers 35:11, etc.; Deuteronomy 4:41, etc.), he here repeats the law with special reference to the appointment of such cities "in the midst of the land," on the west of the Jordan, in Canaan itself; and he supplements the instructions formerly given with directions as to the maintenance of roads to the cities of refuge, and as to the division of the land, so that there should be a city of refuge in every third of the land. Deuteronomy 19:1As Moses had already set apart the cities of refuge for the land on the east of the Jordan (Deuteronomy 4:41.), he is speaking here simply of the land on the west, which Israel was to take possession of before long; and supplements the instructions in Numbers 35:14, with directions to maintain the roads to the cities of refuge which were to be set apart in Canaan itself, and to divide the land into three parts, viz., for the purpose of setting apart these cities, so that one city might be chosen for the purpose in every third of the land. For further remarks on this point, as well as with regard to the use of these cities (Deuteronomy 19:4-7), see at Numbers 35:11. - In Deuteronomy 19:8-10 there follow the fresh instructions, that if the Lord should extend the borders of Israel, according to His promise given to the patriarchs, and should give them the whole land from the Nile to the Euphrates, according to Genesis 15:18, they were to add three other cities of refuge to these three, for the purpose of preventing the shedding of innocent blood. The three new cities of refuge cannot be the three appointed in Numbers 35:14 for the land on this side of the Jordan, nor the three mentioned in Numbers 35:7 on the other side of Jordan, as Knobel and others suppose. Nor can we adopt Hengstenberg's view, that the three new ones are the same as the three mentioned in Deuteronomy 19:2 and Deuteronomy 19:7, since they are expressly distinguished from "these three." The meaning is altogether a different one. The circumstances supposed by Moses never existed, since the Israelites did not fulfil the conditions laid down in Deuteronomy 19:9, viz., that they should keep the law faithfully, and love the Lord their God (cf. Deuteronomy 4:6; Deuteronomy 6:5, etc.). The extension of the power of Israel to the Euphrates under David and Solomon, did not bring the land as far as this river into their actual possession, since the conquered kingdoms of Aram were still inhabited by the Aramaeans, who, though conquered, were only rendered tributary. And the Tyrians and Phoenicians, who belonged to the Canaanitish population, were not even attacked by David.
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