Six safe haven cities for killers
Protecting accidental killers from avengers1 When Israel finished dividing the land, the LORD talked to Joshua: 2 “I want you to tell the people it’s time to decide which cities will become cities of safe haven. Earlier, I had Moses tell you about these cities. 3 These are towns where people can find safety after they accidentally kill someone. If the killer says it was an accident and not murder, then the city will protect the killer from the avenging family.
Advice: turn yourself in4 Here’s what people should do when they accidentally kill someone. They should go to one of the cities of safe haven and turn themselves in. They should do this wherever city leaders meet each day. It’s often at the entrance gate into the city. 5 If family or friends of the victim show up, hoping to avenge the death, don’t give them the killer. The killer says the death was accidental. 6 The city should allow the killer to live in safety until the trial. And if found innocent of murder, the killer should stay in the city until the death of the high priest. Only then can the killer return safely home.”
Six cities of safety7 Here are the three cities of safe haven for tribes west of the Jordan River:
- Kedesh. It’s in Naphtali’s tribe, in the region of Galilee.
- Shechem. Ephraim’s tribe, in the hill country.
- Hebron. Judah’s tribe, in the hill country. It’s also called Kiriath-arba.
- Bezer. Reuben’s tribe, in the desert plains.
- Ramoth. Gad’s tribe, in the region of Gilead.
- Golan. Eastern half of Manasseh’s tribe, in the territory of Bashan.
Numbers 35:6-15. Deuteronomy 19:1-13.
Scholars have to guess what the death of the high priest has to do with how long an accidental killer had to live protected in a city of safe haven. One guess: the death of the priest atoned for the accidental death. Though the killer was judged innocent, a person died. And the killer bears some responsibility for that—some guilt that needs paid for and forgiven. Living in the confines of the city of safe haven, perhaps far from family, may have been part of the price the killer had to pay. But the final atonement was the death of the priest—the blood of the priest, atoning for the blood of the victim. One person died, though accidentally. Another had to die to pay for it. Only then would the killer be back on good terms with God. That’s one interpretation.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.