Deuteronomy 4:42
That the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live:
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4:41-49 Here is the introduction to another discourse, or sermon, Moses preached to Israel, which we have in the following chapters. He sets the law before them, as the rule they were to work by, the way they were to walk in. He sets it before them, as the glass in which they were to see their natural face, that, looking into this perfect law of liberty, they might continue therein. These are the laws, given when Israel was newly come out of Egypt; and they were now repeated. Moses gave these laws in charge, while they encamped over against Beth-peor, an idol place of the Moabites. Their present triumphs were a powerful argument for obedience. And we should understand our own situation as sinners, and the nature of that gracious covenant to which we are invited. Therein greater things are shown to us than ever Israel saw from mount Sinai; greater mercies are given to us than they experienced in the wilderness, or in Canaan. One speaks to us, who is of infinitely greater dignity than Moses; who bare our sins upon the cross; and pleads with us by His dying love.These verses are inserted between two distinct and complete discourses for the reason to which they themselves call attention ("Then Moses severed three cities," etc.); i. e., the fact narrated took place historically after Moses spoke the one discourse and before he delivered the other. In thus severing the three cities of refuge Moses carried out a previous command of God (see the marginal references); and so followed up his exhortations to obedience by setting a punctual example of it, as far as opportunity was given him.41-43. Then Moses severed three cities on this side Jordan—(See on [114]Jos 20:7). No text from Poole on this verse.

That the slayer might flee thither,.... For refuge; the slayer of a man, but not any slayer, but

which should kill his neighbour unawares; by accident to him, without any design and intention to kill him; ignorantly, as the Septuagint version; and so Onkelos:

and hated him not in times past; it having never appeared that there had been a quarrel between them, and that the slayer had shown any enmity to the man slain any time before the fact, or bore a grudge against him, or spite unto him:

and that, fleeing unto one of these cities, he might live; in peace and safety unto his own death, or unto the death of the high priest, when he was released from his confinement to the city of his refuge, and might return to his tribe, house, family, and possessions.

That the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbor unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live:
42. unawares, and hated him not in time past] The same terminology as in Deuteronomy 19:1 ff. For this E has lies not in wait but God delivers him into his hand (in contrast with wilfully), Exodus 21:12-14; but P gives another term, in error or inadvertence, Numbers 35:11; Numbers 35:15. Joshua 20 combines both phrases Deuteronomy 4:3; Deuteronomy 4:5; Deuteronomy 4:9.

Verse 42. - Unawares; literally, in lack or want of knowing (בְּבְלִי־דַעָת), i.e. unconsciously, unintentionally; in Numbers 35:31, 15, another word (בִּשְׁגָגָה, by mistake) is used, rendered in the Authorized Version by "unwittingly;" in Joshua 20:3, both words are used. In times past; literally, yesterday, three days since, i.e. formerly, heretofore (cf. Genesis 31:2; Exodus 5:8). Deuteronomy 4:42Selection of Three Cities of Refuge for Unintentional Manslayers on the East of the Jordan. - The account of this appointment of the cities of refuge in the conquered land on the east of the Jordan is inserted between the first and second addresses of Moses, in all probability for no other reason than because Moses set apart the cities at that time according to the command of God in Numbers 35:6, Numbers 35:14, not only to give the land on that side its full consecration, and thoroughly confirm the possession of the two Amoritish kingdoms on the other side of the Jordan, but also to give the people in this punctual observance of the duty devolving upon it an example for their imitation in the conscientious observance of the commandments of the Lord, which he was now about to lay before the nation. The assertion that this section neither stood after Num, nor really belongs there, has a little foundation as the statement that its contents are at variance with the precepts in Deuteronomy 19. "Toward the sunrising" is introduced as a more precise definition; היּרדּן עבר, like מזרחה in Numbers 32:19 and Numbers 34:15. On the contents of Deuteronomy 4:42, comp. Numbers 35:15. The three towns that were set apart were Bezer, Ramoth, and Golan. "Bezer in the steppe, (namely) in the land of the level" (The Amoritish table-land: Deuteronomy 3:10). The situation of this Levitical town and city of refuge, which is only mentioned again in Joshua 20:8; Joshua 21:36, and 1 Chronicles 6:63, has not yet been discovered. Bezer was probably the same as Bosor (1 Macc. 5:36), and is possibly to be seen in the Berza mentioned by Robinson (Pal. App. p. 170). Ramoth in Gilead, i.e., Ramoth-Mizpeh (comp. Joshua 20:8 with Joshua 13:26), was situated, according to the Onom., fifteen Roman miles, or six hours, to the west of Philadelphia (Rabbath-Ammon); probably, therefore, on the site of the modern Salt, which is six hours' journey from Ammn (cf. v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 265, 266). - Golan, in Bashan, according to Eusebius (s. v. Gaulon or Golan), was still a very large village in Batanaea even in his day, from which the district generally received the name of Gaulonitis or Joan; but it has not yet been discovered again.
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