Deuteronomy 19:3
You shall prepare you a way, and divide the coasts of your land, which the LORD your God gives you to inherit, into three parts, that every slayer may flee thither.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Deuteronomy 19:3. Thou shalt prepare thee a way — Make a plain road to them, keep it in good repair, and distinguish it by evident marks, to prevent delays and mistakes, that the manslayer might meet with no difficulty in escaping to the nearest city. And divide the coasts of thy land — Thy possessions on the west of Jordan into three equal parts, and in the central part of each open a place of refuge, which being nearly at an equal distance with respect to the inhabitants of that district, all might have the same benefit by it.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.Thou shalt prepare thee a way - It was the duty of the Senate to repair the roads that led to the cities of refuge annually, and remove every obstruction. No hillock was left, no river over which there was not a bridge; and the road was at least 32 cubits broad. At cross-roads there were posts bearing the words Refuge, Refuge, to guide the fugitive in his flight. It seems as if in Isaiah 40:3 ff the imagery were borrowed from the preparation of the ways to the cities of refuge.3. Thou shalt prepare thee a way—The roads leading to them were to be kept in good condition and the brooks or rivers to be spanned by good bridges; the width of the roads was to be thirty-two cubits; and at all the crossroads signposts were to be erected with the words, Mekeleth, Mekeleth, "refuge, refuge," painted on them.

divide the coasts of thy land … into three parts—the whole extent of the country from the south to the north. The three cities on each side of Jordan were opposite to each other, "as two rows of vines in a vineyard" (see on [157]Jos 20:7).

Thou shalt prepare thee a way; distinguish it by evident marks, and make it plain and convenient, to prevent mistakes and delays.

Into three parts; not into more, because it was fit that these places should, as far as it was possible, be at some considerable distance from the friends of the slain person, lest the sight of the manslayer might have provoked their passion, and occasioned his ruin. Thou shalt prepare thee a way,.... A road, an highway to those cities: on the first of Adar, or February, the magistrates used to meet, and proclaimed, or ordered to be proclaimed, that the ways be repaired (r), particularly those leading to the cities of refuge; which was done by making them smooth and plain, so that there was not an hill or dale to be seen; and by building bridges over rivers and brooks, that he might escape who had killed anyone through mistake, and not be hindered, lest the avenger of blood should overtake him and kill him (s); and therefore every obstruction was removed out of the way, that there might be a clear course for him; and at the parting of ways, or where two or more ways met, that he might not be at a loss one moment which way to take, "refuge" was written, as Jarchi and other writers observe, upon posts or pillars erected for that purpose: See Gill on Numbers 35:6,

and divide the coasts of thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee to inherit, in three parts; in each of which was to be a city of refuge, and those at an equal distance: so Jarchi observes, that this was done that there might be from the beginning of the border (of the land) unto the first city of the cities of refuge, according to the measure of a journey, that there is from that to the second, and so from the second to the third, and so from the third to the other border of the land of Israel: of the situation of these cities, so as to answer to those on the other side Jordan; see Gill on Numbers 35:14,

that every slayer may flee thither; to that which is nearest and most convenient for him, that is, who had slain a man unawares, as follows.

(r) Misn. Shekalim, c. 1. sect. 1.((s) Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.

Thou shalt {a} prepare thee a way, and divide the coasts of thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee to inherit, into three parts, that every {b} slayer may flee thither.

(a) Make an open and ready way.

(b) Who killed against his will, and bore no hatred in his heart.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. prepare thee the way] Usually taken as making the road open and firm. But (though Steuern.’s objection to this meaning, that such preparation would give equal advantage to the pursuer with the pursued, is hypercritical) this has no relevance to the rest of the v., as the older translators already saw and gave it another sense: LXX στόχασαί σοι, ‘reckon,’ or ‘guess,’ O.L. aestimare. Steuern. renders measure the distance. Better fix, or make sure of, the direction (in which the cities lie), and divide the area of thy land into three.

every manslayer] The general term, Deuteronomy 4:42.Verse 3. - Thou shalt prepare thee a way. In the East, the roads were for the most part mere tracks made by the feet of animals used as beasts of burden or for traveling; and this continues to be the case in Palestine and many other parts of the East even at the present day. That roads, however, properly so called, were not unknown to the Hebrews, even in early times, is evident, not only from this passage, but also from Leviticus 26:22; Numbers 20:17; Numbers 21:22; Deuteronomy 2:27; 1 Samuel 6:12. The design of the injunction here was that every facility should be afforded to the fugitive to escape to the place of refuge. In later times, it was enacted that the roads leading to these cities should be repaired every year in the month Adar, and every obstruction removed. With this assurance the Lord had fully granted the request of the people, "according to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God;" and Israel, therefore, was all the more bound to hearken to the prophets, whom God would raise up from the midst of itself, and not to resort to heathen soothsayers. (On the fact itself, comp. Deuteronomy 5:20. with Exodus 20:15-17.) "In the day of the assembly," as in Deuteronomy 9:10; Deuteronomy 10:4. - The instructions as to their behaviour towards the prophets are given by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:19, Deuteronomy 18:20) in the name of the Lord, for the purpose of enforcing obedience with all the greater emphasis. Whoever did not hearken to the words of the prophet who spoke in the name of the Lord, of him the Lord would require it, i.e., visit the disobedience with punishment (cf. Psalm 10:4, Psalm 10:13). On the other hand, the prophet who spoke in the name of the Lord what the Lord had not commanded him, i.e., proclaimed the thoughts of his own heart as divine revelations (cf. Numbers 16:28), should die, like the prophet who spoke in the name of other gods. With וּמת, the predicate is introduced in the form of an apodosis.
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