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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Deuteronomy 21:6

 

 

"All the elders of that city which is nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley;

Adam Clarke Commentary

Shall wash their hands over the heifer - Washing the hands, in reference to such a subject as this, was a rite anciently used to signify that the persons thus washing were innocent of the crime in question. It was probably from the Jews that Pilate learned this symbolical method of expressing his innocence.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:6". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/deuteronomy-21.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And all the elders of that city that are next unto the slain man,.... The whole court of judicature belonging to it, all the magistracy of it; even though there were an hundred of them, MaimonidesF24Hilchot Rotzeach, c. 9. sect. 3. says:

shall wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley: in token of their innocence, and this they did not only for themselves, but for the whole city, being the representatives of it; see Psalm 26:6. Some think that this is a confirmation of the sense embraced by some, that it was a strong stream to which the heifer was brought; and there might be a stream of water here, and a valley also; though it would be no great difficulty to get from the city, which was near, a sufficient quantity of water to wash the hands of the elders with. This may denote the purification of sin by the blood of Christ, when it is confessed over him; and shows that priests and elders, ministers of the word, as well as others, stand in need of it; and that even those concerned in the death of Christ shared in the benefits of it.


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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 21:6". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/deuteronomy-21.html. 1999.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

6.And all the elders of that city. The washing of their hands had the effect of stirring them up the more, so that they should not inconsiderately protest in that solemn rite that they were pure and guiltless; for it was just as if they had presented the corpse of the dead mall before God, and had stood themselves opposite to it to purge away the crime. At the same time, also, they ask for pardon, because it might have been through their carelessness that the man was smitten; and again, since, by the sacrilege of Achan alone the whole people were contaminated, it was to be feared lest the vengeance of God should extend more widely on account of the offense committed. And thus they were again taught how greatly God abominates murders, when the people pray that they may be pardoned for the crime of another, as if, by the very looking upon it, they had contracted guilt. God at length declares that He will not impute it to them, when they have duly performed this rite of expiation; not because the heifer was the price of satisfaction to propitiate God, but because in this way they humbly reconciled themselves to Him, and shut the door against murders for the time to come. On this account it is said — “Thou shalt put away the blood from among you;” for if the murder be passed over without observation, there remains a blot upon the people, and the earth itself, in a manner, stinks before God.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:6". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/deuteronomy-21.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Deuteronomy 21:6 And all the elders of that city, [that are] next unto the slain [man], shall wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley:

Ver. 6. Shall wash their hands.] An old ceremony, used in this case by the Gentiles also, as the Scholiast upon Sophocles showeth. {See Trapp on "Matthew 27:24"}


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:6". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/deuteronomy-21.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 6. Shall wash their hands In testimony of their innocence. See the following verses, Psalms 26:6 and Matthew 27:24. It is supposed by many, that the words in the next verses are spoken by the priests: there seems as much reason to believe that they were spoken by the elders. A learned Jewish writer, Chazkuni, says, that they who washed their hands used these words: "As our hands are now clean, so are we innocent of the blood which has been shed." Wagenseil is of opinion, that Pilate alluded to this ceremony when he washed his hands, and declared himself innocent of the blood of Jesus. It is, however, more probable, that Pilate used this as a general and well-known ceremony, expressive of innocence: nevertheless, he grossly abused it; since nothing could authorise or exculpate him from the guilt of condemning an innocent person.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:6". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/deuteronomy-21.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

In testimony of their innocency. See Poole "Matthew 27:24".


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:6". 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

Wash. This was intended to testify that they were not guilty of the blood which had been shed, and that they wished to remove the punishment of it from themselves upon the head of the heifer, (Calmet) the representative of the unknown murderer. So Pilate conformed to this custom, when he condemned Christ on the bare accusation of the Jews; (Matthew xxvii. 24) and the priest, at mass, washes his hands, as an emblem of that innocence, with which he ought to approach the holy of holies. (Haydock) --- Asterius was stricken with lightning, for touching the altar of Jupiter without having washed his hands. (Natal. Myth. i. 10. 14.) The pagans generally purified themselves with fumigations, or by sprinkling sea water upon their bodies. Achilles ordered the things which had been used to purify the Greeks, at the siege of Troy, to be thrown into the sea, as being unclean. (Iliad i.)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:6". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/deuteronomy-21.html. 1859.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And all the elders of that city, that are next unto the slain man, shall wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley:
wash their hands
Washing the hands was anciently a symbolical action, denoting that the person was innocent of the crime in question.
Job 9:30; Psalms 19:12; 26:6; 51:2,7,14; 73:13; Jeremiah 2:22; Matthew 27:24,25; Hebrews 9:10

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21:6". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/deuteronomy-21.html.

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