And your eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Deuteronomy 19:21. An eye for an eye — What punishment the law allotted to the accused, if he had been convicted, the same was the false accuser to bear.
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 Ex 21:23; see also Le 24:20).Exodus 21:23 Leviticus 24:20
but life shall go for life; in such a case where the life of a person must have gone, if the falsehood of the testimony had not been discovered, the false witness must suffer death; in other cases, where a member would have been lost, or the price of it paid for, the same penalty was to be inflicted:
eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot; that is, the price of an eye an eye, &c. see Exodus 21:23.And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)21. thine eye shall not pity] See on Deuteronomy 19:13, Deuteronomy 7:16.
life for life, etc.] The jus talionis, more fully in E, Exodus 21:24 f.; cp. H, Leviticus 24:18; Leviticus 24:20. Very frequently in the Code of Ḫammurabi. See further Driver’s note on Exodus 21:25.Verse 21. - The lex talionis was in this case to be observed (cf. Exodus 21:23; Leviticus 24:20). Practically, however, a pecuniary compensation might be accepted for the offence (cf. Josephus, 'Antiq.,' 4:8, 35).
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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