Chapter 21 of Deuteronomy holds the whole community responsible for unsolved crimes. It seems that God is insisting that everyone realize that there is such a thing as corporate guilt. The whole community is responsible for unsolved murders and must take action to atone for them. There is no such thing as secret or private sin, the whole community or the whole nation is responsible and will suffer because of it.

Maxwell says, “Today we see examples of racial discrimination, neglect of the underprivileged, and a variety of other social evils that bring wide-spread tragic consequences. These are a result of national indifference or neglect or irresponsibility. Deuteronomy again declares, we are community.” As community we share in the consequences and the responsibility. One Rabbi Commentator, Ibn Ezra, “the nation needs absolution for its negligence in failing to keep the roads safe.”

I’ve always liked the song, “this land is your land, this land is my land, from the redwood forests to the New York Island.”  Well, good music doesn’t always equal good theology. We all must understand that the land is not our land any more than the Promised Land belonged to Israel. It belonged to God and God was entrusting it into their hands. Innocent blood, like the blood of Abel, always cries out to God from the land itself.
J.V. McGhee argues that this passage makes us responsible to intercede to God for the corporate failures in our land. He says, “In America I wonder if there ever is even a suggestion that we ask God for forgiveness for our many crimes and the many things happening in our land. It is one thing to say that things are terrible, things are awful. It is another thing to go to God and say, Oh, God, forgive us as a nation. God, forgive us for our sins today.”