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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Deuteronomy 21:1

 

 

"If a slain person is found lying in the open country in the land which the LORD your God gives you to possess, and it is not known who has struck him,

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

If one be found slain,.... After public war with an enemy, Moses proceeds to speak of a private quarrel and fight of one man with another, in which one is slain, as Aben Ezra observes:

in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it; where murders might be committed more secretly, and remain undiscovered, when they came to live in separate cities, towns, and villages, with fields adjacent to them, than now encamped together:

lying in the field; where the quarrel begun, and where the fight was fought: or, however, where the murderer met with his enemy, and slew him, and left him; it being common for duels to be fought, and murders committed in a field; the first murder in the world was committed in such a place, Genesis 4:8. The Targum of Jonathan is,"not hidden under an heap, not hanging on a tree, nor swimming on the face of the waters;'which same things are observed in the MisnahF9Sotah, c. 9. sect. 2. , and gathered from some words in the text:

in the land, and so not under a heap:

lying, and so not hanging:

in the field, and so not swimming on the water:

and it be not known who hath slain him; the parties being alone, and no witnesses of the fact, at least that appear; for, if it was known, the heifer was not beheaded, later mentionedF11Maimon. Hilchot Rotzeach, c. 9. sect. 11, 12. ; and one witness in this case was sufficient, and even one that was not otherwise admitted.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/deuteronomy-21.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

If [one] be found a slain in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it, lying in the field, [and] it be not known who hath slain him:

(a) This law declares how horrible murder is, seeing that because of one man a whole country will be punished, unless remedy is found.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/deuteronomy-21.html. 1599-1645.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

Provision is made in this chapter for various circumstances, of such things as might arise in the government of Israel. Here are appointments for the discovery of murder: for the marriage of captives taken in war: for preserving the birthright of inheritance to the eldest son of a wife not beloved: for the punishment by stoning of a rebellious son: and for the taking down the bodies of malefactors before sun-set. Such are the contents of this chapter.


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Bibliography
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/deuteronomy-21.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

If one be found slain in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it, lying in the field, and it be not known who hath slain him:

The field — Or, in the city, or any place: only the field is named, as the place where such murders are most commonly committed.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/deuteronomy-21.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1.If one be found slain in the land. This Supplement: is of a mixed character, relating partly to the civil, and partly to the criminal law. We are informed by it how precious to God is the life of man; for, if a murder had been committed by some unknown person, He requires an expiation to be made, whereby the neighboring cities should purge themselves from the pollution of the crime. Whence it appears that the earth is so polluted by human blood, that those who encourage murder by impunity, implicate themselves in the guilt. The question here is as to a secret crime, the guilt of which attaches to the neighboring cities, until, by the institution of a diligent inquiry, they can testify that the author is not discovered; how much less excusable, then, will they be, if they allow a murderer to escape with impunity? The rite prescribed is, that the elders of the nearest city should take a heifer which had not drawn in a yoke, and bring it into a stony and barren valley, cut off its neck with the assistance of the priests, wash their hands, and bear witness that their hands as well as their eyes are pure, as not being cognizant of the criminal. God chose a heifer that had not born a yoke, in order that the satisfaction made by innocent blood might be represented in a more lively manner; whilst it was to be killed in a desert place, that the pollution might be removed from the cultivated lands. For, if the blood of the heifer had been shed in the middle of the market-place of the city, or in any inhabited spot, the familiarity with the sight of blood would have hardened their minds in inhumanity. For the purpose, therefore, of awakening horror, it was drawn out into a solitary and uncultivated spot, that they might be thus accustomed to detest cruelty. But although, properly speaking, this was not a sacrifice which could be offered nowhere except in the sanctuary, still it nearly approached to the nature of a sacrifice, because the Levites were in attendance, and a solemn deprecation was made; nevertheless, they were not only employed as ministers of the altar, but also as judges, for their office is expressed in the words, that they were “chosen to minister to God, to bless the people, and to pronounce sentence as to every stroke.”


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/deuteronomy-21.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Deuteronomy 21:1 If [one] be found slain in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it, lying in the field, [and] it be not known who hath slain him:

Ver. 1. In the field.] Or elsewhere; the field is instanced, because in places more frequented, murders are not so easily concealed, or so commonly committed.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/deuteronomy-21.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

DEUTERONOMY CHAPTER 21

How to expiate an uncertain murder, Deuteronomy 21:1-19. The usage of a captive taken to wife, Deuteronomy 21:10-14. The first born, though the son of the hated, is not to be disinherited, Deuteronomy 21:15-17. The punishment of a stubborn son, viz. death, Deuteronomy 21:18-21. The cursed death of them that are hanged, Deuteronomy 21:22,23.

In the field, or, in the city, or any place, only the field is named, as the place where such murders are most commonly committed, and most easily concealed.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/deuteronomy-21.html. 1685.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Land. The Jewish doctors hence infer, that if the corpse was found hanging or drowned &c., or nearer a town of the Gentiles than one of the Israelites, this law did not oblige. They are so exact as to dispute whether the distance must be measured from the nose or from the naval of the deceased. (Selden, Syned. iii. 7.) But the law shews us, that the author of the murder must be discovered, if possible, as the crime is so grievous as, in a manner, to defile the land, and draw down the vengeance of God, if it be carelessly left unpunished. (Calmet)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/deuteronomy-21.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

the LORD. Hebrew. Jehovah. App-4.

God. Hebrew. Elohim. App-4.

lying = fallen down.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/deuteronomy-21.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

If one be found slain in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it, lying in the field, and it be not known who hath slain him:

If one be found slain ... lying in the field. The ceremonies here ordained to be observed on the discovery of a slaughtered corpse show the ideas of sanctity which the Mosaic law sought to associate with human blood, the horror which murder inspired, as well as the fears that were felt lest God should avenge it on the country at large, and the pollution which the land was supposed to contract from the effusion of innocent, unexpiated blood.

According to Jewish writers, the sanhedrim, taking charge of such a case, sent a deputation to examine the neighbourhood, and, they having reported which was the nearest town to the spot where the body was found, an order was issued by their supreme authority to the elders or magistrates of that town to provide the heifer at the civic expense, and go through the appointed ceremonial. The engagement of the public authorities in the work of expiation-the purchase of the victim heifer-the conducting it to a "rough valley," which might be at a considerable distance, and which, as the original - [ nachal (Hebrew #5158) 'eeytaan (Hebrew #386): cf. Amos 5:24. Septuagint, eis faranga tracheian, a "rough," rugged valley] - implies, was a wady, a perennial stream, in the waters of which the polluting blood would be wiped away from the land, and a desert, withal, incapable of cultivation-the striking off of the heifer's head, contrary to the usual mode of slaughtering (see Wilkinson, 'Ancient Egyptians,' 2:, p. 375) - the presence of the Levites, the ministers of religion, the washing of the magistrates' hands, which was an ancient act symbolical of innocence (see the note at Matthew 27:24), followed by a solemn denial of the imputation of the crime of blood guiltiness, for themselves as well as for the community in which they lived-the whole of the ceremonial was calculated to make a deep impression on the Jewish, as well as on the Oriental mind generally, to stimulate the activity of the magistrates in the discharge of their official duties, to lead to the discovery of the criminal, and the repression of crime.

This singular statute concerning homicide by some person or persona unknown is unquestionably far superior to what is to be found in the criminal code of any other ancient nation. Plato ('De Leg.,' lib. 9:, which is commonly appended to as a model of legislative wisdom) merely provided, that on the discovery of a murdered corpse, and the assassin could not be got, proclamation should be made prohibiting his entrance into a temple; because, if he were detected, he should be immediately put to death, and denied the rites of burial. But the enactment of Moses, which was accompanied by an expressive solemnity of observances, was better calculated to serve the purposes of a penal statute; and it was undoubtedly the origin or germ of the modern coroners inquests.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/deuteronomy-21.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

If one be found slain in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it, lying in the field, and it be not known who hath slain him:
Psalms 5:6; 9:12; Proverbs 28:17; Isaiah 26:21; Acts 28:4

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/deuteronomy-21.html.

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