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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.

Deuteronomy 17:8-9

Appeal to a Higher Court

17:8 If a matter is too difficult for you to judge – bloodshed, 7  legal claim, 8  or assault 9  – matters of controversy in your villages 10  – you must leave there and go up to the place the Lord your God chooses. 11  17:9 You will go to the Levitical priests and the judge in office in those days and seek a solution; they will render a verdict.

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”).

7 tn Heb “between blood and blood.”

8 tn Heb “between claim and claim.”

9 tn Heb “between blow and blow.”

10 tn Heb “gates.”

11 tc Several Greek recensions add “to place his name there,” thus completing the usual formula to describe the central sanctuary (cf. Deut 12:5, 11, 14, 18; 16:6). However, the context suggests that the local Levitical towns, and not the central sanctuary, are in mind.

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