Vv 6-34: Six of the 48 Levitical cities -- three east and
three west of the Jordan -- were set apart as "cities of refuge," for the
unintentional manslayer. These cities were for the protection of the accidental
manslayer, but it must not be imagined that the simple plea of unintentional
homicide afforded safety. The law specified that the roads to these cities were
always to be kept in good repair. But, according to v 25 (cp Jos 20:4), a seeker
for sanctuary would, on arriving at the gates of a city of refuge, first have to
plead his cause before the elders of that city. If they accepted his case, they
would give him provisional protection. If, however, afterwards, the "avenger of
blood" claimed his extradition, the accused person would be sent back under
proper protection to his own city, where the whole case would be thoroughly
investigated. If the homicide was then proved to have been unintentional, the
accused would be restored to the "city of refuge," and enjoy its protection,
till the death of the high priest set him free to return to his own
As for the duty of "avenging blood," its principle is deeply
rooted in the Old Testament, and traced up to the relation in which God stands
to our world. For, the blood of man, who is made in God's image, when shed upon
earth, which is God's property, "cries out" to God (Gen 4:10) -- it claims
payment like an unredeemed debt. Hence the expression "avenger of blood," which
should be literally rendered "redeemer of blood."
Symbolically, the cities of refuge are the place of God's
merciful protection. There, the manslayer was to find a refuge, sheltered, as it
were, under the wings of the grace of God, till the complete remission of the
punishment at the death of the high priest. This death foreshadows the death of
Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, who has made a perfect covering for all
Six towns, along with altar in Jerusalem (the 7th "city" of
refuge: 1Ki 1:51; 2:28).
ONLY AFTER THE DEATH OF THE HIGH PRIEST MAY HE RETURN:
Christ is the final High Priest: After his death (and resurrection), the
believer may go forth to his inheritance.
DO NOT ACCEPT A RANSOM...: Ref the common practice of
paying and taking ransom (see LB 290,291...).