Numbers 35 Commentary

Cities for the Levites (35:1-34)

Levi had no tribal area of its own, but received cities, with surrounding pasture lands, in each of the other tribes. There were forty-eight Levitical cities, the number in each tribe being in proportion to the size of the tribe. This ensured that those responsible for teaching God’s law to the people were evenly scattered throughout Israel (35:1-8).

Among these forty-eight cities were six cities of refuge, three west of Jordan and three east. These were cities where a person who killed another could flee for safety till he was lawfully judged (9-15). If he was guilty of murder he was executed, but if he had caused the death by accident, he could live in the city of refuge under the chief priest’s protection as long as that priest lived. This placed a restriction on his freedom, but at least he was safe from the revenge of the dead man’s family (16-28).

A person could not be condemned to death for murder unless at least two people had witnessed his crime, but once found guilty he had to die. No one could buy his freedom. His murderous deed made the land unclean, and that uncleanness could be removed only by his own death (29-34).

Privacy Policy