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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Avenger of Blood

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(גּאֵל, goa', fully גּאֵל הִדָּם .), a term applied to the nearest relative of a murdered person, inasmuch as he had the right, and on him devolved the obligation of killing the murderer (2 Samuel 14:7; 2 Samuel 14:11) wherever he met him (outside any of the cities of refuge). Respecting this custom, universal among the Hebrews from the earliest times (Genesis 10:14; Genesis 27:45), as among other nations of antiquity (e.g. the Greeks; see Welker, p. 361 sq.; Wachsmuth, Hellen. Alterth. 3, 241, 284; the inhabitants of Trachonitis; see Josephus, Ant. 16, 9, 1), and in the East to this day among the Arabians, Persians, Abyssinians, Druses, Circassians, etc. (see Chardin, 3, 417 sq.; Niebuhr, Beschr. p. 33 sq.; Reisen, 2, 430; East Ind. Mission. Her. 3, 491; Burckhardt, Trav. 2, 872,1011; Lobo, Relation d'Abyss. p. 123 sq.), the Jewish lawgiver, in order to restrain its abuse, appointed (Exodus 21:13; Numbers 35:9 sq.; Deuteronomy 19:1 sq.; comp. Joseph. Ant. 4, 7, 4) six cities of refuge (עָרֵי מַקְלָט ) in different parts of the country, to which the manslayer might have recourse, and where, if his offense had not been premeditated, he might remain in safety till the death of the high-priest at that time acting should release him from the danger of retribution, while, on the other hand, the willful murderer was to be in any case surrendered to the pursuer for vengeance. If, however, the man-slayer quitted the city (Deuteronomy 19:6), or even went beyond the prescribed limits of its environs (Numbers 35:25 sq.), the avenger might kill him with impunity. (See ASYLUM). A similar provision prevailed among the Athenians (see Wachsmuth, Hellen. Alterth. II, 1:268; Hefter, Athen. Gerichtsverf. p. 136) for the rescue of the accidental man-slayer. (See generally Michaelis, Mos. Recht, 2, 401 sq.; 6:32 sq.; Hoffmann, in the Hall. Encycl. 11:89 sq.; Jahn, Archaol. II, 2:372 sq.). (See BLOOD- REVENGE).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Avenger of Blood'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/a/avenger-of-blood.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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