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Joshua 20


Joshua 20 is dedicated to the establishment of cities of refuge in Israel, a crucial provision in the Israelite legal system for those who commit accidental manslaughter. This chapter underscores the balance between justice and mercy in ancient Israel. Key aspects include:
LORD’s Command to Establish Cities of Refuge: The LORD instructs Joshua to establish cities of refuge, as previously communicated to Moses. These cities are to provide asylum for anyone who accidentally kills another person.
Purpose of the Cities of Refuge: The cities of refuge are designed to protect the manslayer from the avenger of blood (a relative of the deceased seeking retribution) until the manslayer stands trial before the community.
Designation of the Cities: Six cities are designated as cities of refuge. Three are located east of the Jordan (Bezer in Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead of Gad, and Golan in Bashan of Manasseh) and three in Canaan (Kedesh in Galilee of Naphtali, Shechem in Ephraim, and Hebron in Judah).
Conditions for Protection: The chapter details the conditions under which the manslayer can seek refuge. It stipulates that the killing must be unintentional and without prior hostility.
Trial and Judgment: The community is responsible for judging the case. If the killing is deemed accidental, the manslayer must remain in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest. Afterward, the individual may return home without fear of retribution.
Prohibition against Avenging Outside the Refuge City: The chapter emphasizes that the avenger of blood must not kill the manslayer before their trial, thus upholding the rule of law and preventing a cycle of violence.
Joshua 20 reflects the Israelite society's commitment to justice, providing a system that distinguishes between accidental and intentional killings. The establishment of these cities underscores the value of human life and the need for a fair legal process, even in cases of manslaughter. It also serves as a symbol of God's provision of mercy and protection within the framework of His law.

Joshua 20

1  The LORD also spake unto Joshua, saying,

2  Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spake unto you by the hand of Moses:

3  That the slayer that killeth any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood.

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4  And when he that doth flee unto one of those cities shall stand at the entering of the gate of the city, and shall declare his cause in the ears of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city unto them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them.

5  And if the avenger of blood pursue after him, then they shall not deliver the slayer up into his hand; because he smote his neighbour unwittingly, and hated him not beforetime.

6  And he shall dwell in that city, until he stand before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the high priest that shall be in those days: then shall the slayer return, and come unto his own city, and unto his own house, unto the city from whence he fled.

7  And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali, and Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah.

8  And on the other side Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness upon the plain out of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead out of the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe of Manasseh.

9  These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them, that whosoever killeth any person at unawares might flee thither, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, until he stood before the congregation.

End of Joshua 20

1 Year Plan:  Apr 7 - Josh 18, Josh 19, Josh 20,  John 1

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