Matthew Poole's Commentary
When the LORD thy God hath cut off the nations, whose land the LORD thy God giveth thee, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their cities, and in their houses;The rehearsal of the cities of refuge for him that killeth his neighbour ignorantly, Deu 19:1-10; but he that hateth and killeth his neighbour, though fled into one of these cities, must die, Deu 19:11-13. No removing of old land-marks, Deu 19:14. The number of witnesses, Deu 19:15. The punishment of false witnesses, Deu 19:16-21.
No text from Poole on this verse.
Thou shalt separate three cities for thee in the midst of thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it.In the midst of thy land, to wit, beyond Jordan, as there were three already appointed on this side Jordan, Numbers 35:14. He saith, in the midst of the land, either for in the land, as in the midst of the city, Jeremiah 52:25, is the same with that in the city, 2 Kings 25:19, or to design the places, that they should be situated in the midst of the several parts of their land, to which they might conveniently and speedily flee from all the parts of the land.
Thou shalt 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 slayer may flee thither.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.
And this is the case of the slayer, which shall flee thither, that he may live: Whoso killeth his neighbour ignorantly, whom he hated not in time past;No text from Poole on this verse.
As when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbour to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbour, that he die; he shall flee unto one of those cities, and live:No text from Poole on this verse.
Lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and slay him; whereas he was not worthy of death, inasmuch as he hated him not in time past.This verse is to be joined with Deu 19:3, as is evident, the 4th and 5th verses coming in as a parenthesis, which is usual in Scripture and other authors.
And slay him; which is supposed, but not allowed, as appears from the following words. But the avenger of blood is not to be punished with death for killing the manslayer, in case he found him without the borders of the city of refuge after he had been received there, Numbers 35:26,27, because then he was guilty of a new crime, to wit, a contempt of God’s ordinance, and a gross neglect of the duty of self-preservation, and therefore deserved death from God, who might permit it to be inflicted by the avenger of blood.
Wherefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt separate three cities for thee.No text from Poole on this verse.
And if the LORD thy God enlarge thy coast, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, and give thee all the land which he promised to give unto thy fathers;Enlarge thy coast, as far as Euphrates. See Genesis 15:18 Exodus 23:31 Deu 1:7.
If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the LORD thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three:No text from Poole on this verse.
That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.No text from Poole on this verse.
But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities:No text from Poole on this verse.
Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.The elders of his city; either of the slain person, who were most likely to prosecute the murderer; or of the murderer, because God would oblige even his own fellow citizens to prosecute him to death, that it might appear how hateful murder and the murderer is to God, and ought to be to all men.
Fetch him thence; demand him of the elders of the city of refuge, who upon the hearing of the cause and the evidence of the murder were obliged to deliver the offender to justice.
Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.No text from Poole on this verse.
Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour's landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it.Thy neighbour’s land-mark; by which the several portions of land distributed to several families were distinguished one from another. See Job 24:2 Proverbs 22:28 Hosea 5:10.
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.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.
If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong;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.
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;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.
And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother;No text from Poole on this verse.
Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.No text from Poole on this verse.
And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.Those which remain, i.e. the rest of the people. See Deu 13:11 17:13.
And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.What punishment he intended or the law allotted to the accused, if he had been convicted, the same shall the false accuser bear. Of this law see on Exodus 21:23 Leviticus 24:20