Deuteronomy 19:15
One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
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Deuteronomy 19:15-21. FALSE TESTIMONY.

The law of retaliation is sternly laid down here; but it must be administered by the judges, not by men acting on their own behalf.

(17) Both the men . . . shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges.—This appears to mean that all cases of suspected false testimony were to go before the supreme court (see Deuteronomy 17:9); that the matter was not to be lightly decided.

(21) Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.—This is to be effected by the award of the judges, not as a matter of private revenge. But manifestly it rests with the injured party to press the case.

Deuteronomy 19:15-17. One witness shall not rise up — Or, be established, as the same word is rendered in the end of the verse; that is, shall not be accepted or owned as sufficient. If a false witness rise up — A single witness, though he speak truth, is not to be accepted for the condemnation of another man; but if he be convicted of bearing false witness, it is sufficient for his own condemnation. Both the men shall stand before the Lord — That is, shall come to the supreme court, which consisted partly of priests, and partly of other great persons, who, it seems, in Moses’s time, sat at the door of the tabernacle, and so the men, in standing before them, might properly be said to stand before the Lord.

19:15-21 Sentence should never be passed upon the testimony of one witness alone. A false witness should suffer the same punishment which he sought to have inflicted upon the person he accused. Nor could any law be more just. Let all Christians not only be cautious in bearing witness in public, but be careful not to join in private slanders; and let all whose consciences accuse them of crime, without delay flee for refuge to the hope set before them in Jesus Christ.As a man's life is to be held sacred, so are his means of livelihood; and in this connection a prohibition is inserted against removing a neighbor's landmark: compare the marginal references. De 19:15. Two Witnesses Required.

15. One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity—The following rules to regulate the admission of testimony in public courts are founded on the principles of natural justice. A single witness shall not be admitted to the condemnation of an accused person.

Shall not rise up, or, not stand, or, not be established, accepted, owned as sufficient: it is the same word which in the end of the verse is rendered be established.

One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth,.... Whether capital sins, or pecuniary debts; or whatsoever sins a man may be guilty of whether sins against the first or second table of the law, whether greater or lesser sins, whether in moral or civil things; the Jews except only in the case of a woman suspected of adultery and of beheading the heifer:

at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established; either for acquittance or condemnation; and the witnesses may not, as Jarchi says, write their testimony in a letter, and send it to the sanhedrim, nor may an interpreter stand between the witnesses and the judges; See Gill on Deuteronomy 17:6.

One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
15. By Deuteronomy 17:6 (cp. P, Numbers 35:30), a man may not be put to death save on the evidence of more than one witness. Here the same is enforced for all cases.

One witness shall not rise up] Or, stand, that is, of course, as a valid effectual witness; the vb is the same as at the end of the v., shall a matter be established. But in the next v. rise up simply means appear, offer himself.

in any sin that he sinneth] Luc. omits.

15–21. Of Witnesses

Two or three witnesses are necessary for a conviction (Deuteronomy 19:15). If a witness, forcing his evidence, accuse a man of defection from the law, the two shall stand before God in the supreme court (Deuteronomy 19:16 f.), the judges shall investigate, and if the witness be found false, he shall have done to him what he devised for his brother; so shall evil be removed from Israel (Deuteronomy 19:18 f.) and others take warning (Deuteronomy 19:20); ruthlessly shall like for like be exacted (Deuteronomy 19:21).—Sg. (except for one slip into the Pl. in Deuteronomy 19:19) with the use of the term brother and other terms usual in Sg. passages. There are no deuteronomic formulas beyond the legal ones.

On the subject of this law cp. E, Exodus 23:1, Exodus 20:16, Deuteronomy 5:20 (the 9th commandment), and other passages cited below. By the Code of Ḫammurabi §§ 3 f., false evidence is punished on the same principle of like for like as here, Deuteronomy 19:19. In Arabia at least two witnesses are necessary; if their charge is not brought home they must flee from the vengeance of the accused’s relatives, with whom however they may come to an arrangement (Musil, Ethn. Ber. 337).

Verses 15-21. - To secure against injury to life or property through inadequate or false attestation, it is enacted that more than one witness must appear before anything can be established; and that, should a witness be found on trial to have testified falsely against his neighbor, he was to be punished by having done to him what he thought to have done to his neighbor (cf. Deuteronomy 17:6; Numbers 35:30). Verse 15. - The rule in Deuteronomy 17:6, regarding accusations of idolatry, is here extended to accusations of every kind before a court of justice; a single witness was not to be admitted as sufficient to convict a man of any offence, either civil or criminal. Deuteronomy 19:15The Punishment of a False Witness. - To secure life and property against false accusations, Moses lays down the law in Deuteronomy 19:15, that one witness only was not "to rise up against any one with reference to any crime or sin, with every sin that one commits" (i.e., to appear before a court of justice, or be accepted as sufficient), but everything was to be established upon the testimony of two or three witnesses. The rule laid down in Deuteronomy 17:6 and Numbers 35:30 for capital crimes, is raised hereby into a law of general application (see at Numbers 35:30). קוּם (in Deuteronomy 19:15), to stand, i.e., to acquire legal force. - But as it was not always possible to bring forward two or three witnesses, and the statement of one witness could not well be disregarded, in Deuteronomy 19:16-18 Moses refers accusations of this kind to the higher tribunal at the sanctuary for investigation and decision, and appoints the same punishment for a false witness, which would have fallen upon the person accused, if he had been convicted of the crime with which he was charged. סרה בּו לענות, "to testify against his departure," sc., from the law of God, not merely falling away into idolatry (Deuteronomy 13:6), but any kind of crime, as we may gather from Deuteronomy 19:19, which would be visited with capital punishment.
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