Deuteronomy 19:16
If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong;
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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.Testify against him that which is wrong - Margin, more literally, "a falling away." The word is used Deuteronomy 13:5 to signify apostasy or revolt; here it is no doubt to be understood in the wider sense of any departure from the Law. De 19:16-21. Punishment of a False Witness.

16-21. But if convicted of perjury, it will be sufficient for his own condemnation, and his punishment shall be exactly the same as would have overtaken the object of his malignant prosecution. (See on [158]Ex 21:23; see also Le 24:20).

A single witness, though he speak truth, is not to be accepted for the condemnation of another man; but if he be convicted of false witness, this is sufficient for his own condemnation.

If a false witness rise up against any man,.... In a court of judicature:

to testify against him: that which is not true of him, let it be in what case it will; Aben Ezra instances in idolatry, but it holds good of any other.

If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong;
16. But if] So Sam. LXX.

unrighteous witness] Heb. witness of violence. So E, Exodus 23:1, and Psalm 35:11, apparently one who forces his evidence, does violence to the truth or intends violence to his neighbour. Driver renders malicious, ‘meditates some covert violence himself or assists by false testimony the high-handed wrong doer.’ Marti ‘with whom might goes before right.’ In any case the description is proleptic, his character is not decided till he is taken before the judges.

rise up] See on previous v. In this simpler sense in other Sg. passages; see on Deuteronomy 13:1.

to testify against him] Same vb as in Deuteronomy 5:20 (17).

wrong doing] Heb. sarah same as rebellion, Deuteronomy 13:5 (6) R.V. (cp. Deuteronomy 17:17), but while there it means apostacy from Jehovah here it is wider, any delinquency or defection from the law.

Verse 16. - To testify against him that which is wrong; literally, to testify against him defection, i.e. from the Law of God. The speaker has apparently in view here all such defections from the Law as would entail punishment on the convicted offender. In Deuteronomy 13:5 [6], indeed, the crime described here as "that which is wrong" (margin, "falling away") is specially the crime of apostasy to idolatry; but the word (סָרָה), though usually expressing apostasy from Jehovah, has properly the general sense of a deflection from a prescribed course (from סוּר, to go off, to go aside), and so may describe any departure from what is constituted right. Deuteronomy 19:16The 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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