Study Guide

Book of Numbers Chapter 35

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Chapter 35

Your Towns

  • Not quite.
  • There's still some more housekeeping left to do.
  • God tells Moses that they're gonna need to set aside land for the Levites as well.
  • In total, they'll need 48 towns spread all around Israel (six will be cities of refuge… more on that later).
  • Technically the Levites don't own any land there, but they'll be able to live, work, and raise livestock among other non-Levites. It's pretty tough to tend to the tabernacle when you don't have a place to hang your hat.

Easy There, Killer

  • Now, let's talk about murder.
  • Six of the towns that the Levites will operate out of will be designated as "cities of refuge." This means that anyone who's accidentally murdered someone can run and seek sanctuary there while awaiting trial.
  • If an accidental killer doesn't go hide out in a city of refuge, then a relative of the person they killed—an avenger—will probably hunt them down and kill them right back.
  • Basically, these towns just give the accused a little breathing room to figure out what to do.
  • So, if you kill someone accidentally, then you get some space. But if you do it intentionally, you're pretty much screwed.
  • Let's say you hit someone with a tire iron or a rock or a baseball bat and that other person dies. Or maybe you purposely push a guy or sneakily wait behind a door and then jump out and beat him up and he dies. Well, bad news, but you're "a murderer [and] the murderer shall be put to death."
  • An avenger (sorry, it's not Iron Man) who's related to the dearly departed will get to murder you then. Hey, God is still pretty big on this whole eye for an eye thing.
  • But if you kill someone accidentally then that's a different story. Maybe you're carrying a heavy rock and it slips and lands on someone's skull. Oops. You're entitled to a trial in front of the whole community.
  • If the verdict comes back not guilty, you're saved. Kind of. You just have to go live in one of the cities of refuge.
  • But on the plus side, you can return home when the high priest in your hometown dies. Fingers crossed that some sucker accidentally drops a rock on his head.
  • If you leave before the high priest dies and you just happen to cross paths with an avenger… well… sorry. It was nice knowing you.
  • So, murderers get put to death, right? Well, only if there is more than one witness to the crime. One witness simply won't do.
  • You also can't buy your freedom. A murderer can't pay the community to look the other way after he beat down that other guy in the street. And anyone who's waiting in exile to return from one of the cities of refuge can't buy their way back. Sorry, killers.
  • Basically, God doesn't want murderers in his Promised Land. It dirties the place up and makes house values drop like crazy.

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