Deuteronomy 19:17
Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days;
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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.Both the men, between whom the controversy is - Not the accused and the false witness, but the plaintiff and defendant (compare Exodus 23:1) who were summoned before the supreme court held, as provided in Deuteronomy 17, at the sanctuary. The judges acted as God's representative; to lie to them was to lie to Him. 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).

See Poole "Deu 17:9,12", and observe that the controversies both here and there referred to, and to be determined by the priests and judges, are only between man and man, and not doctrines of faith and manners, as the papists for their own advantage pretend.

Then both the men between whom the controversy is,.... The man that bears the false witness, and the man against whom it is borne:

shall stand before the Lord; as in the presence of him, the omniscient God, and as represented by judges and civil magistrates, whose vicegerents they are; so it seems to be explained in the next words, which are exegetical of these:

before the priests and the judges which shall be in those days; which shall compose the sanhedrim, or court of judicature; and this seems to confirm it, that by priest and judge, in Deuteronomy 17:9 are meant priests and judges; Jarchi says, this Scripture speaks of witnesses, that is, of the false witness that testifies wrong against a man, and another that contradicts his testimony, and teaches that there is no witness by women; and so it is elsewhere said (a), an oath of witness is made by men, and not by women; on which it is observed (b) that a woman is not fit to bear witness, as it is written:

then both the men,.... men and not women; and the above writer remarks further, that it teaches that they ought to bear testimony standing.

(a) Misn. Shebuot, c. 4. sect. 1.((b) Bartenora in ib.

Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the {h} LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days;

(h) God's presence where his true ministers are assembled.

17. shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, etc.] That is in the supreme court to be instituted at the One Altar, Deuteronomy 17:9. The construction is awkward and betrays expansion. Steuern. and Berth. and Marti take before the judges as alone original, as these only are mentioned in the next v., and understand the reference to be, not to the supreme court but to the newly instituted judges of Deuteronomy 16:18. But it is quite as probable that before the Lord was all that the original text of the law contained, and that the rest was added from Deuteronomy 17:9 by an editor. This is just one of the difficult cases, which in more primitive conditions were referred to some representative of the Deity and which, on the institution of the supreme court at Jerusalem, Israel was directed to take there (cp. Deuteronomy 17:8, between plea and plea, the same Heb. term as is here rendered controversy).

Verse 17. - Both the men, i.e. both parties at the bar, shall stand before the Lord; i.e. shall come to the sanctuary where Jehovah had his dwelling-place in the midst of his people, and where the supreme judges, who were his delegates and representatives, held their court (Deuteronomy 17:9). Deuteronomy 19:17The two men between whom the dispute lay, the accused and the witness, were to come before Jehovah, viz., before the priests and judges who should be in those days - namely, at the place of the sanctuary, where Jehovah dwelt among His people (cf. Deuteronomy 17:9), and not before the local courts, as Knobel supposes. These judges were to investigate the case most thoroughly (cf. Deuteronomy 13:15); and if the witness had spoken lies, they were to do to him as he thought to do to his brother. The words from "behold" to "his brother" are parenthetical circumstantial clauses: "And, behold, is the witness a false witness, has he spoken a lie against his brother? Ye shall do," etc. זמם, generally to meditate evil. On Deuteronomy 19:20, see Deuteronomy 13:12.
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