christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

deuteronomy 21:1-9, unsolved murder

Read Deuteronomy 21:1-9 at Bible Gateway.

Previously: deuteronomy 20:1-20, warfare and murder

(Please review the teaching tools of scripture, especially the Hebrew paragraph divisions and common themes. The paragraphs marked by an “s” at their close are weak paragraphs, which indicate a change of facet but not a change of theme or topic. The paragraphs marked by a “p” at their close are strong paragraphs, which indicate the completion of a theme or topic.)

Deu 21:1-9 is the fourth and final section explaining the sixth commandment, Do not commit murder. The sixth commandment is explained in Deu 19:1-21:9, and this is my summary of it. The Hebrew paragraph divisions are:

Deu 21:1-9 {s} Atonement for unsolved murder

This is interesting, because a heifer specifically commanded for atonement is only mentioned one other time in Torah that I can find.

Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “This is the ordinance of the law which the Lord has commanded, saying: ‘Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which a yoke has never come.” Num 19:1-2

“Then a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and store them outside the camp in a clean place; and they shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for the water of purification; it is for purifying from sin.” Num 19:9

The common elements are the heifer that has never been worked and on which a yoke has never come, and purfication or atonement from death. One of the most powerful teaching tools of Scripture are connections made by common themes, and here we have a clear thematic connection between the unworked heifer for atonement from unsolved murder, and the unworked red heifer of Num 19 for atonement from contact with death. The red heifer of Num 19 is a startling prophetic picture of Messiah, having the Messianic elements of hyssop, scarlet, and wood (also present in the Passover Lamb of Exo 12:21-22), rest from work (as painful toil is a consequence of sin, Gen 3:16-19), and purification or atonement from death (also a consequence of sin).

That is all very interesting, but what does it mean? Innocent blood on the ground “cries out” to the Lord God for justice (Gen 4:10); when the one who shed it pays for his crime with his own blood, the innocent blood is covered or atoned for (Gen 9:5-6). But until that day, the innocent blood continues to cry. If the murderer is never found or the sentence of justice never executed, then the blood guilt builds up in the land. Over time the cry becomes so great, that the Just Judge of the Whole Earth must act or He will no longer be just.

In the case of the Canaanites who were in the land before Israel, the land was cleansed of them (the Lord called Israel to cleanse the land of them). When the blood guilt of Israel became too great, the land was cleansed of them also (the Lord called Assyria and Babylonia to cleanse the land of them). To put away the guilt of innocent blood from the land, the elders and priests made atonement for the innocent blood with the heifer which had never been worked.

This commandment of Torah prophesies that Messiah, who is without blemish, will provide atonement for His people from the guilt of innocent blood, and purification from the defilement of death. God knew that we could not escape the Angel of Death by our own work or effort of obedience. In Messiah Yeshua He has provided a Passover Lamb, a Red Heifer of Purification, and a Heifer for Atonement from Death, to set us free from sin, work, death, and the judgment coming to us from them. HalleluYah! Therefore, repent, turn from the wicked way of shedding innocent blood, and of allowing the murderer to find refuge, and go, and sin no more.

Continued: deuteronomy 19:1-21:9, sixth commandment chiastic structure


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