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More than one witness was required in criminal cases (Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15).
They were the first to execute the sentence on the condemned (Deuteronomy 13:9; 17:7; 1 Kings 21:13; Matthew 27:1; Acts 7:57-58).
False witnesses were liable to punishment (Deuteronomy 19:16-21).
It was also an offense to refuse to bear witness (Leviticus 5:1).