Overview

Numbers 35 is a crucial chapter that addresses the allocation of cities for the Levites and the establishment of cities of refuge. This chapter lays out a system for handling cases of manslaughter and ensures provision for the Levites who do not receive a territorial inheritance. Key aspects include:
Cities for the Levites: The Israelites are commanded to give towns and their surrounding pasturelands to the Levites. These towns are to be distributed throughout Israel's tribal territories, ensuring the Levites have places to live and land to support their livestock.
Cities of Refuge: Among the towns given to the Levites, six are designated as cities of refuge. These cities serve as safe havens for anyone who kills a person accidentally, providing protection from the avenger of blood until a trial can be held.
Laws Governing the Cities of Refuge: The chapter provides detailed laws concerning the cities of refuge. These laws include the conditions under which a person can seek refuge, the procedure for their trial, and the stipulation that the accused must remain in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest.
Intentional vs. Accidental Manslaughter: A distinction is made between intentional murder and accidental manslaughter. Intentional murderers are to be handed over to the avenger of blood to be put to death, ensuring that justice is served.
Importance of the Cities of Refuge: These cities are crucial for preventing blood vengeance and ensuring that justice is not carried out rashly or unfairly. They provide a legal mechanism for dealing with manslaughter cases while respecting the sanctity of life and the need for due process.
Protection of the Land’s Sanctity: The chapter emphasizes that bloodshed defiles the land, and atonement can only be made for the blood that is shed by the blood of the one who shed it.
Numbers 35 highlights the importance of providing for the Levites and ensuring justice and sanctuary within the Israelite community. The establishment of cities of refuge represents a sophisticated legal concept, balancing the need for sanctuary for the accused and justice for victims of crime. This approach reflects the values of mercy, justice, and communal responsibility in ancient Israelite society.

Numbers 35

1  And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,

2  Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the Levites of the inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in; and ye shall give also unto the Levites suburbs for the cities round about them.

3  And the cities shall they have to dwell in; and the suburbs of them shall be for their cattle, and for their goods, and for all their beasts.

4  And the suburbs of the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits round about.

5  And ye shall measure from without the city on the east side two thousand cubits, and on the south side two thousand cubits, and on the west side two thousand cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits; and the city shall be in the midst: this shall be to them the suburbs of the cities.

6  And among the cities which ye shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee thither: and to them ye shall add forty and two cities.

7  So all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites shall be forty and eight cities: them shall ye give with their suburbs.

8  And the cities which ye shall give shall be of the possession of the children of Israel: from them that have many ye shall give many; but from them that have few ye shall give few: every one shall give of his cities unto the Levites according to his inheritance which he inheriteth.

9  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

10  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan;

11  Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares.

12  And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment.

13  And of these cities which ye shall give six cities shall ye have for refuge.

14  Ye shall give three cities on this side Jordan, and three cities shall ye give in the land of Canaan, which shall be cities of refuge.

15  These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither.

16  And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.

17  And if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.

18  Or if he smite him with an hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.

19  The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him.

20  But if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die;

21  Or in enmity smite him with his hand, that he die: he that smote him shall surely be put to death; for he is a murderer: the revenger of blood shall slay the murderer, when he meeteth him.

22  But if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon him any thing without laying of wait,

23  Or with any stone, wherewith a man may die, seeing him not, and cast it upon him, that he die, and was not his enemy, neither sought his harm:

24  Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments:

25  And the congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the revenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to the city of his refuge, whither he was fled: and he shall abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which was anointed with the holy oil.

26 But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled;

27  And the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood:

28  Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession.

29  So these things shall be for a statute of judgment unto you throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

30  Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.

31  Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.

32  And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest.

33  So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.

34  Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.

End of Numbers 35


1 Year Plan:  Mar 13 - Num 35, Num 36,  Luk 7

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