And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,
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.
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.
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.
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:-- †»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»î Ω Fields and vineyards. Ω Ω Ω Ω †»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»î Ω Ω Ω Ω Ω Ω Ω Suburbs. Ω Ω Ω Ω Ω Ω Ω Ω †»»»»»»»»»î Ω Ω Ω Ω Ω City. Ω Ω Ω Ω Ω ¬»»»»»»»»»ú Ω Ω Ω Ω Ω Ω Ω Ω 1,000 Cubits Ω Ω Ω Ω Ω Ω Ω ¬»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»ú Ω Ω Ω Ω 2,000 Cubits Ω ¬»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»ú
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
to them ye shall add
Heb. above them ye shall give.
So all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites shall be forty and eight cities: them shall ye give with their suburbs.
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.
Heb. they inherit.
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan;
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.
Heb. by error.
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
until he stand
And of these cities which ye shall give six cities shall ye have for refuge.
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.
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.
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
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.
The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him.
But if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die;
if he thrust
But if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon him any thing without laying of wait,
Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments:
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
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
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.
after the death
So these things shall be for a statute of judgment unto you throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
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.
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.
guilty of death
Heb. faulty to die.
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.
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.
the land cannot be cleansed
Heb. there can be no expiation for the land.
Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.