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Bible Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Numbers 35



1Eight and forty cities for the Levites, with their suburbs, and measure thereof.
6Six of them are to be cities of refuge.
9The laws of murder and manslaughter.
31No satisfaction for murder.

Verse 1
And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,
22:1; 26:63; 31:12; 33:50; 36:13

Verse 2
Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the Levites of the inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in; and ye shall give also unto the Levites suburbs for the cities round about them.
Leviticus 25:32,33; Joshua 14:3,4; 21:2-42; Ezekiel 45:1-8; 48:8,22; 1 Corinthians 9:10-14

Verse 3
And the cities shall they have to dwell in; and the suburbs of them shall be for their cattle, and for their goods, and for all their beasts.
Joshua 21:11; 2 Chronicles 11:14; Ezekiel 45:2

Verse 4
And the suburbs of the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits round about.
thousand cubits
The Septuagint reads [dischilious pecheis] "two thousand cubits," as in the following verse; but this reading is not acknowledged by any other ancient version, except the Coptic, nor by any of the MSS. collated by Kennicott and De Rossi. Various modes have been proposed for reconciling the accounts in these two verses, which appear in general to require full as much explanation as the text itself. The explanation of Maimonides is the only one that is intelligible, and appears perfectly satisfactory. "The suburbs," says he, "of the cities are expressed in the law to be 3,000 cubits on every side, from the wall of the city and outwards. The first 1,000 cubits are the suburbs; and the 2,000, which they measured without the suburbs, were for fields and vineyards." The whole therefore, of the city, suburbs, fields, and vineyards, may be represented by the following diagram:--  ÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈ” ½ Fields and vineyards. ½ ½ ½ ½  ÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈ” ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ Suburbs. ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½  ÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈ” ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ City. ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ÂÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈœ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1,000 Cubits ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ÂÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈœ ½ ½ ½ ½ 2,000 Cubits ½ ÂÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈÈœ

Verse 6
And among the cities which ye shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee thither: and to them ye shall add forty and two cities.
six cities for refuge
13,14; Deuteronomy 4:41-43; Joshua 20:2-9; 21:3,13,21,27,32,36,38; Psalms 9:9; Psalms 62:7,8; 142:4,5; Isaiah 4:6; Matthew 11:28; Hebrews 6:18
to them ye shall add
Heb. above them ye shall give.

Verse 7
So all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites shall be forty and eight cities: them shall ye give with their suburbs.
Joshua 21:3-42; 1 Chronicles 6:54-81

Verse 8
And the cities which ye shall give shall be of the possession of the children of Israel: from them that have many ye shall give many; but from them that have few ye shall give few: every one shall give of his cities unto the Levites according to his inheritance which he inheriteth.
Genesis 49:7; Exodus 32:28,29; Deuteronomy 33:8-11; Joshua 21:3
from them
26:54; 33:54; Exodus 16:18; 2 Corinthians 8:13,14
he inheriteth
Heb. they inherit.

Verse 10
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan;
34:2; Leviticus 14:34; 25:2; Deuteronomy 12:9; 19:1,2

Verse 11
Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares.
ye shall appoint
As the goel, or kinsman, had a right to avenge the death of his relation, by slaying the murderer wherever he found him, the appointment of these cities was a humane institution for the protection of the involuntary homicide; for they were designed only for the protection of such.
6; Joshua 20:2
Heb. by error.
22,23; Exodus 21:13; Deuteronomy 4:42; 19:4,5

Verse 12
And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment.
from the avenger
19,25-27; Deuteronomy 19:6; Joshua 20:3-6,9; 2 Samuel 14:7
until he stand
24; Deuteronomy 19:11,12; Joshua 20:4-6

Verse 13
And of these cities which ye shall give six cities shall ye have for refuge.
six cities

Verse 14
Ye shall give three cities on this side Jordan, and three cities shall ye give in the land of Canaan, which shall be cities of refuge.
three cities
Deuteronomy 4:41-43; 19:8-10; Joshua 20:7-9

Verse 15
These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither.
15:16; Exodus 12:49; Leviticus 24:22; Romans 3:29; Galatians 3:28

Verse 16
And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.
if he smite
22-24; Deuteronomy 19:11-13
30-33; Genesis 9:5,6; Exodus 21:12-14; Leviticus 24:17

Verse 17
And if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.
throwing a stone
Heb. a stone of the hand.
Exodus 21:18

Verse 19
The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him.
12,21,24,27; Deuteronomy 19:6,12; Joshua 20:3,5

Verse 20
But if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die;
if he thrust
Genesis 4:5,8; 2 Samuel 3:27; 13:22,28,29; 20:10; 1 Kings 2:5,6,31-33; Proverbs 26:24; Proverbs 28:17; Luke 4:29
by laying
Exodus 21:14; Deuteronomy 19:11; 1 Samuel 18:10,11,25; 19:9-12; 20:1; 23:7-9; 24:11; Psalms 10:7-10; 11:2; 35:7,8; 57:4-6; Proverbs 1:18,19; Mark 6:19,24-26; Acts 20:3; 23:21

Verse 22
But if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon him any thing without laying of wait,
11; Exodus 21:13; Deuteronomy 19:5; Joshua 20:3,5

Verse 24
Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments:
12; Joshua 20:6

Verse 25
And the congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the revenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to the city of his refuge, whither he was fled: and he shall abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which was anointed with the holy oil.
abide in it
28; Joshua 20:6; Romans 3:24-26; Ephesians 2:16-18; Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:25-28; Hebrews 9:12-15; 10:19-22
Exodus 29:7; Leviticus 4:3; 8:12; 21:10

Verse 26

After the manslayer had been received into the city of refuge, the avenger of blood could only act as prosecutor; and the magistrates, in the presence of the people, were appointed to decide the cause according to the rules here laid down. Probably the accused person was tried at or near the place where the deceased had been slain, and where evidence could most easily be brought, and in case he was acquitted by the decision of the judges, and with the approbation of the people, he was conveyed back to the city of refuge, where he was protected as a kind of prisoner at large, till the death of the high priest; when the public loss, and the grief occasioned by it, might be supposed to swallow up all personal regrets and resentments, and then he was permitted to return to his house and estate. But if, in the mean while, he ventured to leave the city, and the avenger met him and slew him, he was supposed to merit his doom by thus neglecting the appointment of God for his preservation, and the avenger must not be punished. This shews that in other cases, if the avenger slew an innocent man on surmise, he was liable to the punishment of a murderer; but if, by the testimony of two credible witnesses, the man who had fled to the city of refuge was adjudged guilty, he must without fail be put to death.

Verse 27
And the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood:
he shall not be guilty of blood
Heb. no blood shall be to him
Exodus 22:2; Deuteronomy 19:6,10

Verse 28
Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession.
he should
John 15:4-6; Acts 11:23; 27:31; Hebrews 3:14; 6:4-8; 10:26-30,39
after the death
Hebrews 9:11,12,15-17

Verse 29
So these things shall be for a statute of judgment unto you throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

Verse 30
Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.
Deuteronomy 17:6,7; 19:15; Matthew 18:16; John 8:17,18; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19; Hebrews 10:28; Revelation 11:3

Verse 31
Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.
Genesis 9:5,6; Exodus 21:14; Deuteronomy 19:11-13; 2 Samuel 12:13; 1 Kings 2:28-34; Psalms 51:14
guilty of death
Heb. faulty to die.

Verse 32
And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest.
Acts 4:12; Galatians 2:21; 3:10-13,22; Revelation 5:9; The region east of Jordan was nearly as long as that on the west, and therefore three cities were appointed in each division. One or other of these cities would be within half a day's journey of every part of the land; and as it would rarely happen that the avenger of blood would be on the spot, and none had a right to assault or detain the manslayer, at least if no malicious intention was manifest, the unhappy men would, therefore, get the start of their adversaries, and very few of them be overtaken before they gained the place of refuge. But then they must forsake their families, employments, most important interests, and dearest comforts; and they must neither loiter nor yield to weariness, nor regard difficulties, nor slacken their pace, till they had got safe within the walls of the city. The Jewish writers inform us, that to afford every facility to those who thus fled for their life, the road to these cities was always preserved in good repair; and way-posts, upon which was inscribed REFUGE were placed wherever needful, that they might not so much as hesitate for a moment.

Verse 33
So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.
it defileth
Leviticus 18:25; Deuteronomy 21:1-8,23; 2 Kings 23:26; 24:4; Psalms 106:28; Isaiah 26:21; Ezekiel 22:24-27; Hosea 4:2,3; Micah 4:11; Matthew 23:31-35; Luke 11:50,51
the land cannot be cleansed
Heb. there can be no expiation for the land.

Verse 34
Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.
Defile not
5:3; Leviticus 20:24-26
I dwell
Psalms 135:21; Isaiah 57:15; Hosea 9:3; 2 Corinthians 6:16,17; Revelation 21:3,27
dwell among
5:3; Exodus 25:8; 29:45,46; 1 Kings 6:13; Psalms 132:14; Isaiah 8:12


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Numbers 35:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

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