Deuteronomy 17:8-13

Key Verse(s):

Deuteronomy 17:11 (CSB)

11 You must abide by the instruction they give you and the verdict they announce to you. Do not turn to the right or the left from the decision they declare to you.


This passage continues from the previous, and from the third pericope previous. What is described here is a method of judiciary hierarchy, and a way that justice can be adjudicated in Israel.

We might be tempted to wonder why a system of courts would be needed in a nation of God’s people, led directly by God; shouldn’t it be straightforward to implement God’s law and commands? Well, we could probably say the same thing about any number of theological issues, many of which have differing interpretations between denominations. Yet these varying theological stances are all supposedly based upon the word of God, and simply cannot mean some of these diametrically opposed stances simultaneously. So if we, as the church, cannot “get” the word of God, the most studied book in history, why would we think every local level court would be able to handle every case they might have?

Instead, God puts in place a system that allows for the majority of cases to be handled at the local, or lower, levels, and only those that prove too difficult to be moved on to the next higher court, eventually culminating at the highest court. And when the highest court makes a decision, as the judicial voice of God, it is settled.

Still the goal of God here is to save us: to “purge the evil”. A judicial system that ensures justice, as a reflection of God’s justice, is a part of that goal.


Lord, thank you for creating a model for us in this judicial system that reflects your desire for justice. Unlike you, we are flawed, sinful people, and we need these safeguards and systems to protect the innocent and thwart those that would choose to abuse others. I pray for our nation to return to you, and your principles of justice. Amen.


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