The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36

Numbers 35

Num 35:6

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 city.

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 sins.

Num 35:15

Six towns, along with altar in Jerusalem (the 7th "city" of refuge: 1Ki 1:51; 2:28).

Num 35:28

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.

Num 35:31

DO NOT ACCEPT A RANSOM...: Ref the common practice of paying and taking ransom (see LB 290,291...).

Previous Index Next