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Deuteronomy 21:22-23

Disposition of a Criminal’s Remains

21:22 If a person commits a sin punishable by death and is executed, and you hang the corpse 1  on a tree, 21:23 his body must not remain all night on the tree; instead you must make certain you bury 2  him that same day, for the one who is left exposed 3  on a tree is cursed by God. 4  You must not defile your land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

1 tn Heb “him.”

2 tn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute for emphasis, which the translation indicates by “make certain.”

3 tn Heb “hung,” but this could convey the wrong image in English (hanging with a rope as a means of execution). Cf. NCV “anyone whose body is displayed on a tree.”

4 sn The idea behind the phrase cursed by God seems to be not that the person was impaled because he was cursed but that to leave him exposed there was to invite the curse of God upon the whole land. Why this would be so is not clear, though the rabbinic idea that even a criminal is created in the image of God may give some clue (thus J. H. Tigay, Deuteronomy [JPSTC], 198). Paul cites this text (see Gal 3:13) to make the point that Christ, suspended from a cross, thereby took upon himself the curse associated with such a display of divine wrath and judgment (T. George, Galatians [NAC], 238-39).

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