Joshua Twenty

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Joshua 20:1 The LORD also spake unto Joshua, saying,

Joshua 20:2 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spake unto you by the hand of Moses:

cities of refuge. On the cities of refuge, see also Numbers 35 and Deuteronomy 19:1-13. To some degree, these cities of refuge could be considered a type of Christ (Hebrews 6:18). Note some of the analogies: (1) they were established by God before they were needed; (2) they were available to all, as well as conveniently accessible to all; (3) their gates were always open; (4) they were widely advertised.

Joshua 20:3 That the slayer that killeth any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood.

Joshua 20:4 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.

Joshua 20:5 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.

Joshua 20:6 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.

Joshua 20:7 And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali, and Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah.

mount Ephraim. All the cities of refuge were located at high elevations, so they could be seen from a great distance. They were also located so that everyone was within a day's journey from at least one of them. Furthermore, “whosoever” (Joshua 20:9) needed to flee to one of the cities was free to do so, whether he was an Israelite or not.

which is Hebron. Hebron was the city—and mountain—requested and conquered by Caleb. However, he was willing to give it to the Levites as one of their designated cities of refuge (note Joshua 21:11-13).

Joshua 20:8 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.

Joshua 20:9 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.