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Numbers Thirty Five

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Numbers 35:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,

Numbers 35:2 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.

Numbers 35:3 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.

Numbers 35:4 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.

Numbers 35:5 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.

Numbers 35:6 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.

Numbers 35:7 So all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites shall be forty and eight cities: them shall ye give with their suburbs.

give to the Levites. The Levites were specially called to the service of the tabernacle (later the temple). Therefore, they had no one region of land as their tribal inheritance. However, not all Levites were at the tabernacle simultaneously, so the Lord made provision of forty-eight special cities scattered throughout the whole land. Six of these Levitical cities were designated as cities of refuge (Numbers 35:11; see also Deuteronomy 4:41-43; and 19:1-3).

Numbers 35:8 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.

Numbers 35:9 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Numbers 35:10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan;

Numbers 35:11 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.

cities of refuge. Six cities of refuge were designated out of the forty-eight assigned to the Levites (Numbers 35:6-7) to give those involved in unintentional manslaughter (as distinct from murder) refuge from an avenger.

Numbers 35:12 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.

the avenger. The “avenger” (Hebrew gaal, also translated “kinsman” or “redeemer”) acted under the authority of Genesis 9:6 in seeking to avenge the death of a near kinsman. Note Hebrews 6:18.

Numbers 35:13 And of these cities which ye shall give six cities shall ye have for refuge.

Numbers 35:14 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.

Numbers 35:15 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.

Numbers 35:16 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.

Numbers 35:17 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.

Numbers 35:18 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.

Numbers 35:19 The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him.

Numbers 35:20 But if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die;

Numbers 35:21 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.

Numbers 35:22 But if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon him any thing without laying of wait,

Numbers 35:23 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:

Numbers 35:24 Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments:

Numbers 35:25 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.

Numbers 35:26 But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled;

Numbers 35:27 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:

Numbers 35:28 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.

Numbers 35:29 So these things shall be for a statute of judgment unto you throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

Numbers 35:30 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.

one witness. At least two witnesses must be available to testify in a capital crime, as a safeguard against one vindictive person causing the death of an innocent person. These would not necessarily have to be eye-witnesses. Rather, they must at least be independent witnesses of circumstantial evidences relevant to the crime.

Numbers 35:31 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.

Numbers 35:32 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.

Numbers 35:33 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.

Numbers 35:34 Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.