If a murderer could not be found out, great solemnity is provided for putting away the guilt from the land, as an expression of dread and detesting of that sin. The providence of God has often wonderfully brought to light these hidden works of darkness, and the sin of the guilty has often strangely found them out. The dread of murder should be deeply impressed upon every heart, and all should join in detecting and punishing those who are guilty. The elders were to profess that they had not been any way aiding or abetting the sin. The priests were to pray to God for the country and nation, that God would be merciful. We must empty that measure by our prayers, which others are filling by their sins. All would be taught by this solemnity, to use the utmost care and diligence to prevent, discover, and punish murder. We may all learn from hence to take heed of partaking in other men's sins. And we have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, if we do not reprove them.
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SDA Bible Commentary (limited)
5. Priests. See chs.17:9; 18:1. The priests of the nearest Levitical city would be present to see that the requirements were carried out in harmony with what had been commanded, for “by their word,” literally, “upon their mouth,” all such cases were to be settled. The authority of the Levites was far reaching. They had a voice in every important decision. In this case their presence gave validity to the placing of the burden of the murder on the district in which the body was found.