Joshua 20
Six Cities of Refuge
The Cities of Refuge: God's Provision of Justice and Mercy

The establishment of the cities of refuge emphasizes God's commitment to justice and mercy. The provision of asylum until fair trial underscores the value God places on human life and due process. It teaches us that in our society, we should be careful to distinguish between intentional harm and unfortunate accidents, extending mercy whenever appropriate.

Establishment of the Cities of Refuge (Verses 1-3)

God directs Joshua to designate certain cities as places of refuge, as was earlier communicated through Moses. These cities are meant to protect individuals who unintentionally commit manslaughter, safeguarding them from avengers seeking retribution.

Rules for Asylum (Verses 4-6)

The chapter outlines the legal provisions for those seeking asylum. Upon reaching a city of refuge, the fugitive presents his case to the city elders. If the manslaughter was indeed unintentional, the city must shelter the individual. They are safe until they stand trial before the assembly and the death of the current high priest, after which they can return home.

Designation of the Cities (Verses 7-9)

Six cities are chosen to be cities of refuge: Kedesh in Galilee, Shechem in Ephraim, and Kiriath-arba in Judah to the west of the Jordan; Bezer in Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead, and Golan in Bashan to the east. These cities serve both Israelites and foreigners, reiterating the equal application of God's law.

In this enlightening chapter, the LORD instructs Joshua to establish cities of refuge, providing a safe haven for those who unintentionally commit manslaughter, further underscoring God's principles of justice and mercy.

1. Justice and Fair Trial
2. Mercy and Forgiveness
3. Preservation of Life
4. Civic Responsibility
5. Communal Harmony
1. Cities of Refuge
2. Accidental Manslaughter
3. Trial by Assembly
4. High Priest's role in justice
5. God's instruction to Joshua
1. Joshua
2. Israelites
3. Manslayer
4. Avenger of Blood
5. Elders of the City
6. High Priest
1. Kedesh in Galilee
2. Shechem in Ephraim
3. Kiriath-arba (Hebron) in Judah
4. Bezer in Reuben
5. Ramoth in Gilead
6. Golan in Bashan
Bible Study Questions

1. How does the establishment of the cities of refuge reflect God's justice and mercy?

2. What can modern societies learn from the concept of a city of refuge?

3. How does the concept of the avenger of blood compare to our current understanding of justice?

4. How does the city elders' role in accepting the manslayer reflect community responsibility?

5. Why was it necessary for the manslayer to stay in the city until the death of the high priest?

6. How do the cities of refuge promote fairness and prevent vengeance?

7. What significance does the equal treatment of Israelites and foreigners in these cities carry for us today?

8. How can the idea of cities of refuge inform our views on refugee and asylum policies today?

9. How does the mandate of standing trial before an assembly uphold the principle of public accountability?

10. How does the concept of cities of refuge contrast with current penal systems and concepts of justice?

11. What can we learn from the cities of refuge about God's protection and providence?

12. How might the concept of cities of refuge guide us in dealing with people who have made

1. mistakes in our own lives?

13. Why do you think the death of the high priest was chosen as the time when the manslayer could return home?

14. In what ways does the instruction for establishing cities of refuge show God's foresight and wisdom?

15. How does the concept of refuge resonate with the broader Biblical theme of God being our refuge?

16. How does this system ensure that the punishment is proportional to the crime committed?

17. How does the process of a fugitive presenting his case to the city elders highlight the importance of listening and understanding in our relationships today?

18. Why do you think these specific cities were chosen as cities of refuge?

19. How does the process of designating cities of refuge demonstrate faith in action?

20. In what ways can we create metaphorical 'cities of refuge' in our personal lives and communities today?

Bible Hub Chapter Summaries and Bible Study Questions

Joshua 19
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