Joshua 20:4
And when he that does flee to one of those cities shall stand at the entering of the gate of the city, and shall declare his cause in the ears of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city to them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Joshua 20:4. The gate — Where the judges used to sit. His cause — Shall give them a true relation of the fact, and all its circumstances. They shall take him — If they are satisfied in the relation he makes concerning the fact, otherwise it had been a vain thing to examine. Give a place — Which they might well allow him, because God gave them the city with a reservation for such persons.20:1-6 When the Israelites were settled in their promised inheritance, they were reminded to set apart the cities of refuge, whose use and typical meaning have been explained, Nu 35; De 19. God's spiritual Israel have, and shall have in Christ and heaven, not only rest to repose in, but refuge to secure themselves in. These cities were designed to typify the relief which the gospel provides for penitent sinners, and their protection from the curse of the law and the wrath of God, in our Lord Jesus, to whom believers flee for refuge, Heb 6:18.As soon as the manslayer presented himself at the city of refuge, the elders of the city were to hold an inquiry, and receive him provisionally into the city. Afterward, when the avenger of blood should have tracked his victim to the city, and appear to claim him, a more formal and thorough investigation Joshua 20:6 was to be made. Consult the marginal references. 4. he that doth flee unto one of those cities shall stand at the entering of the gate of the city—It was the place of public resort, and on arriving there he related his tale of distress to the elders, who were bound to give him shelter and the means of support, until the local authorities (Jos 20:6), having carefully investigated the case, should have pronounced the decision. If found guilty, the manslayer was surrendered to the blood-avenger; if extenuating circumstances appeared, he was to remain in the city of refuge, where he would be safe from the vindictive feelings of his pursuers; but he forfeited the privilege of immunity the moment he ventured beyond the walls. The judges used to sit

at the entering of the gate. His cause, or, his matters or business, what he hath done, and why, and how; he shall give them a true relation of the fact, and all its circumstances.

They shall take him into the city; understand, if they are satisfied in the relation he makes concerning the fact, otherwise it had been a vain thing to examine his cause.

Give him a place; which they might well allow him, because God gave them the city with a reservation for such persons. And when he that doth flee unto one of those cities,.... Any one of them, that was nearest to him:

shall stand at the entering of the gate of the city; for he might not rush in without leave:

and shall declare his cause in the ears of the elders of that city; lay before them the whole matter, how that he had killed a person unawares, by what means it came about, and that it was merely through error, without any malicious design, and was a mere accident:

they shall take him into the city unto them; directly, lest the avenger of blood should come and seize on him, and kill him; and they were to take him into the city, not only to prevent that, but to examine him still more closely about the matter, and get further satisfaction; and being satisfied, were to continue him in it:

and give him a place, that he might dwell among them; until his death, or the death of the high priest, if that was first. Kimchi observes from their Rabbins, the he was not to hire a house all the time of his dwelling there, but was to have one freely, because it is said, "and give him", &c.

And when he that doth flee unto one of those cities shall stand at the entering of the gate of the city, and shall declare his cause in the ears of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city unto them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. shall stand at the entering of the gate of the city] not i.e. outside the gate of the city, but in the forum, or public place of judgment. Comp. Ruth 4:1-2.

in the ears of the elders of that city] Before the fugitive could avail himself of the shelter conceded by the laws, he was to undergo a solemn trial, and make it appear to the satisfaction of the magistrates of the place (“the aldren of the citie,” Wyclif), where the homicide was committed, that it was purely accidental.

and give him a place] If he succeeded in so doing, the elders were to “give him a place,” i.e. receive him into the protection of the city, and permit him to reside there.Verse 4. - And when he that doth flee unto one of those cities. This passage is in accordance with the instructions given in Numbers 35, but is not a quotation from it. The passage may be translated, "and he shall flee ... and shall stand." Shall declare his cause. Literally, shall speak. This was to be clone at the "gate of the city," the place where all legal business was transacted (see Ruth 4:1; 2 Samuel 15:2). Conclusion of the Distribution of the Land. - Joshua 19:49, Joshua 19:50. When the land was distributed among the tribes according to its territories, the Israelites gave Joshua an inheritance in the midst of them, according to the command of Jehovah, namely the town of Timnath-serah, upon the mountains of Ephraim, for which he asked, and which he finished building; and there he dwelt until the time of his death (Joshua 24:30; Judges 2:9). "According to the word of the Lord" (lit. "at the mouth of Jehovah") does not refer to a divine oracle communicated through the high priest, but to a promise which Joshua had probably received from God at the same time as Caleb, viz., in Kadesh, but which, like the promise given to Caleb, is not mentioned in the Pentateuch (see at Joshua 15:13; Joshua 14:9). Timnath-serah, called Timnath-heres in Judges 2:9, must not be confounded with Timnah in the tribe of Dan (Joshua 19:43; Joshua 15:10), as is the case in the Onom. It has been preserved in the present ruins and foundation walls of a place called Tibneh, which was once a large town, about seven hours to the north of Jerusalem, and two hours to the west of Jiljilia, standing upon two mountains, with many caverns that have been used as graves (see Eli Smith in Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 562ff., and Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 141).
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