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Deuteronomy 16:18-20

Provision for Justice

16:18 You must appoint judges and civil servants 1  for each tribe in all your villages 2  that the Lord your God is giving you, and they must judge the people fairly. 3  16:19 You must not pervert justice or show favor. Do not take a bribe, for bribes blind the eyes of the wise and distort 4  the words of the righteous. 5  16:20 You must pursue justice alone 6  so that you may live and inherit the land the Lord your God is giving you.

1 tn The Hebrew term וְשֹׁטְרִים (vÿshoterim), usually translated “officers” (KJV, NCV) or “officials” (NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT), derives from the verb שֹׁטֵר (shoter, “to write”). The noun became generic for all types of public officials. Here, however, it may be appositionally epexegetical to “judges,” thus resulting in the phrase, “judges, that is, civil officers,” etc. Whoever the שֹׁטְרִים are, their task here consists of rendering judgments and administering justice.

2 tn Heb “gates.”

3 tn Heb “with judgment of righteousness”; ASV, NASB “with righteous judgment.”

4 tn Heb “twist, overturn”; NRSV “subverts the cause.”

5 tn Or “innocent”; NRSV “those who are in the right”; NLT “the godly.”

6 tn Heb “justice, justice.” The repetition is emphatic; one might translate as “pure justice” or “unadulterated justice” (cf. NLT “true justice”).

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