Deuteronomy 21:2

2 then your elders and your judges shall come out, and they shall measure the distance to the surrounding cities.

Deuteronomy 21:2 Meaning and Commentary

Deuteronomy 21:2

Then thy elders and thy judges shall come forth
From the city or cities near to which the murder was committed, to make inquiry about it, and expiation for it; so Aben Ezra interprets it of the elders of the cities near, but others understand it of the elders of the great sanhedrim at Jerusalem; so the Targum of Jonathan,

``then shall go out from the great sanhedrim two of thy wise men, and three of thy judges;''

and more expressly the Misnah F12,

``three go out from the great sanhedrim in Jerusalem;''

R. Judah says five,

``it is said "thy elders" two, and "thy judges" two,''

and there is no sanhedrim or court of judicature equal (or even), therefore they add to them one more:

and they shall measure unto the cities which are round about him that
is slain;
that is, from the place where the slain lies, as Jarchi rightly interprets it; on all sides of it, from the four corner's, as the Targum of Jonathan, the cities round about the slain. Maimonides


F13 says, they do not behead the heifer for, nor measure, but to a city in which there is a sanhedrim: if it is found between two cities (that is, at an equal distance), both bring two heifers (Maimonides F14 says they bring one between them, which is most reasonable); but the city of Jerusalem does not bring an heifer to be beheaded: the reason is, because it was not divided to the tribes F15. This measuring, one would think, should be only necessary when it was not certain which was the nearest city; and yet Maimonides F16 says, even when it was found on the side of a city, which was certainly known to be nearest, they measured; the command, he observes, is to measure.

F12 Sotah, c. 9. sect. 1.
F13 Hilchot Rotzeach, c. 9. sect. 4.
F14 Ib. sect. 8.
F15 Maimon Hilchot Rotzeachs, c. 9. sect. 8.
F16 lb. c. 9. sect. 1.

Deuteronomy 21:2 In-Context

1 "If in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess someone is found slain, lying in the open country, and it is not known who killed him,
2 then your elders and your judges shall come out, and they shall measure the distance to the surrounding cities.
3 And the elders of the city that is nearest to the slain man shall take a heifer that has never been worked and that has not pulled in a yoke.
4 And the elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with running water, which is neither plowed nor sown, and shall break the heifer's neck there in the valley.
5 Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come forward, for the LORD your God has chosen them to minister to him and to bless in the name of the LORD, and by their word every dispute and every assault shall be settled.
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.