|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
35:9-34 To show plainly the abhorrence of murder, and to provide the more effectually for the punishment of the murderer, the nearest relation of the deceased, under the title of avenger of blood, (or the redeemer of blood,) in notorious cases, might pursue, and execute vengeance. A distinction is made, not between sudden anger and malice aforethought, both which are the crime of murder; but between intentionally striking a man with any weapon likely to cause death, and an unintentional blow. In the latter case alone, the city of refuge afforded protection. Murder in all its forms, and under all disguises, pollutes a land. Alas! that so many murders, under the name of duels, prize-fights, &c. should pass unpunished. There were six cities of refuge; one or other might be reached in less than a day's journey from any part of the land. To these, man-slayers might flee for refuge, and be safe, till they had a fair trial. If acquitted from the charge, they were protected from the avenger of blood; yet they must continue within the bounds of the city till the death of the high priest. Thus we are reminded that the death of the great High Priest is the only means whereby sins are pardoned, and sinners set at liberty. These cities are plainly alluded to, both in the Old and New Testament, we cannot doubt the typical character of their appointment. Turn ye to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope, saith the voice of mercy, Zec 9:12, alluding to the city of refuge. St. Paul describes the strong consolation of fleeing for refuge to the hope set before us, in a passage always applied to the gracious appointment of the cities of refuge, Heb 6:18. The rich mercies of salvation, through Christ, prefigured by these cities, demand our regard. 1. Did the ancient city rear its towers of safety on high? See Christ raised up on the cross; and is he not exalted at the right hand of his Father, to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins? 2. Does not the highway of salvation, resemble the smooth and plain path to the city of refuge? Survey the path that leads to the Redeemer. Is there any stumbling-block to be found therein, except that which an evil heart of unbelief supplies for its own fall? 3. Waymarks were set up pointing to the city. And is it not the office of the ministers of the gospel to direct sinners to Him? 4. The gate of the city stood open night and day. Has not Christ declared, Him that cometh unto me I will in nowise cast out? 5. The city of refuge afforded support to every one who entered its walls. Those who have reached the refuge, may live by faith on Him whose flesh is meat indeed, and whose blood is drink indeed. 6. The city was a refuge for all. In the gospel there is no respect of persons. That soul lives not which deserves not Divine wrath; that soul lives not which may not in simple faith hope for salvation and life eternal, through the Son of God.
Verse 31. - Ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer. The passion for vengeance is both bad and good, and is therefore to be carefully purified and restrained; but when the desire for vengeance can be appeased by a money payment, it has become wholly bad, and is only a despicable form of covetousness which insults the justice it pretends to invoke. Such payments or "ransoms" are permitted by the Koran, and have been common among most semi-civilized peoples, notably amongst our old English ancestors.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Moreover, ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer,.... Though he would give all his wealth and substance, all his estates and possessions, and whatever he is worth in the world; for all that a man has he will give for his life; but these are not to be taken, nor anything, and everything his friends may offer for him; all is to be rejected, the life of such a man is not to be saved on any consideration:
which is guilty of death; as he is who kills a man willingly and purposely; but one may be guilty of killing another, and yet not be deserving of death, when it is done ignorantly and accidentally with respect to him, for which reason this clause is added: but he shall be surely put to death; by the order of the civil magistrate; and if this is not done either through want of evidence, or the fault of the judge, or the criminal clemency of the chief governor, God sooner or later will take vengeance on such a person.
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