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Deuteronomy 19:10-13

Context
19:10 You must not shed innocent blood 1  in your land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, for that would make you guilty. 2  19:11 However, suppose a person hates someone else 3  and stalks him, attacks him, kills him, 4  and then flees to one of these cities. 19:12 The elders of his own city must send for him and remove him from there to deliver him over to the blood avenger 5  to die. 19:13 You must not pity him, but purge out the blood of the innocent 6  from Israel, so that it may go well with you.

1 tn Heb “innocent blood must not be shed.” The Hebrew phrase דָּם נָקִי (dam naqiy) means the blood of a person to whom no culpability or responsibility adheres because what he did was without malice aforethought (HALOT 224 s.v דָּם 4.b).

2 tn Heb “and blood will be upon you” (cf. KJV, ASV); NRSV “thereby bringing bloodguilt upon you.”

3 tn Heb “his neighbor.”

4 tn Heb “rises against him and strikes him fatally.”

5 tn The גֹאֵל הַדָּם (goel haddam, “avenger of blood”) would ordinarily be a member of the victim’s family who, after due process of law, was invited to initiate the process of execution (cf. Num 35:16-28). See R. Hubbard, NIDOTTE 1:789-94.

6 sn Purge out the blood of the innocent. Because of the corporate nature of Israel’s community life, the whole community shared in the guilt of unavenged murder unless and until vengeance occurred. Only this would restore spiritual and moral equilibrium (Num 35:33).



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