Joshua 20:8
And on the other side Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness on the plain out of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead out of the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe of Manasseh.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Joshua 20:8-9. On the other side Jordan they assigned — Or had assigned, or given; for these cities were assigned by Moses before he died, Deuteronomy 4:41. They were not, however, properly speaking, invested with the privilege till now, when they were applied to the use for which Moses had designed them. The stranger — Not only proselytes, but others also; because this was a matter of common right, that a distinction should be made between casual man-slayers and wilful murderers.20:7-9 These cities, as those also on the other side Jordan, stood so that a man might in half a day reach one of them from any part of the country. God is ever a Refuge at hand. They were all Levites' cities. It was kindness to the poor fugitive, that when he might not go up to the house of the Lord, yet he had the servants of God with him, to instruct him, and pray for him, and to help to make up the want of public ordinances. Some observe a significance in the names of these cities with application to Christ our Refuge. Kedesh signifies holy, and our Refuge is the holy Jesus. Shechem, a shoulder, and the government is upon his shoulder. Hebron, fellowship, and believers are called into the fellowship of Christ Jesus our Lord. Bezer, a fortification, for he is a strong hold to all those that trust in him. Ramoth, high or exalted, for Him hath God exalted with his own right hand. Golan, joy or exultation, for in Him all the saints are justified, and shall glory.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. Jos 20:7-9. The Israelites Appoint by Name the Cities of Refuge.

7-9. they appointed … cities—There were six; three on the west, and three on the east, of Jordan. In the first instance, they were a provision of the criminal law of the Hebrews, necessary in the circumstances of that people (see on [201]Nu 35:11; [202]De 19:2). At the same time they were designed also typically to point out the sinner's way to Christ (Heb 6:18).

They assigned, or gave, or had assigned, or

given; for they were given by Moses, Deu 4:41, &c.; or they confirmed Moses’s grant, and applied them to that use to which Moses designed and separated them. And on the other side Jordan by Jericho eastward,.... In the country possessed by the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh:

they assigned Bezer in the wilderness, upon the plain, out of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead out of the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe of Manasseh; of these places, and the signification of their names, and of the application of them to Christ, the antitype of the cities of refuge; see Gill on Deuteronomy 4:43. These last cities were not appointed now, they were appointed in the times of Moses, and severed by him, Deuteronomy 4:41; nor are they here said to be appointed, but to be assigned or "given" (c); they were now delivered up into the hands of the Levites for cities of refuge, for they were before severed for that use; they were not, according to the Jews (d), made use of as such, until the other three were appointed.

(c) "dederunt", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (d) Misn. Maccot, c. 2. sect. 4. Maimon. Hilchot Rotzeach, c. 8. sect. 2, 3.

And on the other side Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness upon the plain out of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead out of the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan out of the {d} tribe of Manasseh.

(d) Out of the half tribe of Manasseh beyond the Jordan.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. Bezer] was the most southerly of the cities chosen on the east of the Jordan. It was in the same latitude as Jericho.

in the wilderness upon the plain] On or near the upland “downs” of Reuben, probably not far from Heshbon. With the other two cities on the east of Jordan Bezer had been selected by Moses for this purpose at the time of the conquest of Gilead and Bashan (Deuteronomy 4:43).

Ramoth in Gilead] is called Ramath-mizpeh in ch. Joshua 13:26. This town (= the heights of Gilead) was one of the great fortresses on the east of Jordan, and commanded the region of Argob and the towns of Jair (see above, ch. Joshua 13:26). It is probable also it was the spot where Jacob made his covenant with Laban (Genesis 31:43-53). For subsequent notices of it see (a) 1 Kings 4:13; (b) 1 Kings 15:17-22; (c) 2 Kings 9:14.

Golan in Bashan] was the most northerly city chosen on the east of the Jordan (Deuteronomy 4:43). Its very site is now unknown, though once a place of great power and influence, which gave its name to a province, Gaulanitis, east of Galilee, = the modern Jaulân. The district was once densely populated, but is now almost completely deserted.Verse 8. - By Jericho eastward. Or, eastward of Jericho. This, of course, only refers to Bezer. The plain. The Mishor, or table land (see Joshua 3:16; Joshua 9:1, and notes). Our version, by its renderings, obscures the beautiful precision with which our historian never fails to hit off the physical geography of the country. Thus, the plain of Bashan, Gilead, and Reuben is always the Mishor; the strip of land between the mountains and the Mediterranean is always the Shephelah; the depression of the Jordan Valley and the country south of the Dead Sea is invariably the Arabah; wide plains shut in between ranges of hills or situated on their slopes are distinguished by the title of Emek; while narrow waterless ravines are known by the name of Ge. We may quote here the emphatic words with which Canon Tristram concludes his 'Land of Israel,' "While on matters of science the inspired writers speak in the ordinary language of their times (the only language which could have been understood), I can bear testimony to the minute truth of innumerable incidental allusions in Holy Writ to the facts of nature, of climate, of geographical position - corroborations of Scripture which, though trifling in themselves, reach to minute details that prove the writers to have lived when and where they are asserted to have lived; which attest their scrupulous accuracy in recording what they saw and observed around them; and which, therefore, must increase our confidence in their veracity, where we cannot have the like means of testing it. I can find no discrepancies between their geographical or physical statements and the evidence of present facts. I can find no standpoint here for the keenest advocate against the full inspiration of the scriptural record. The Holy Land not only elucidates but bears witness to the truth of the Holy Book." Ramoth in Gilead. See Joshua 13:26, where it is called Ramoth Mizpeh; also Joshua 21:38. All these cities of refuge were Levitical cities. It is famous as the headquarters of Jehu's rebellion, in which he clearly had the support of the priestly party (2 Kings 9.). The key to his subsequent conduct is found in this fact. His "zeal for the Lord," displayed so ostentatiously to Jonadab, who we may suppose, as being of the "family of the scribes," to have become identified with the Levites (cf. 1 Chronicles 2:55 with Judges 1:16, and 1 Chronicles 27:32 with Ezra 7:12, Jeremiah 8:8), was simply a stroke of policy, to bind to his interest the sacerdotal party, to whom,with the army, he owed his throne. Just such a policy commended itself to the worldly wisdom of our own Lancastrian princes, and led to the enactment of the infamous statute de heretico comburendo in the fifteenth century. Jehu, we find, was contented with the one vast sacrifice of idolaters, for whom he cared nothing, and gave himself no further trouble to secure purity of worship for his people. The one great value of the geographical and political details in the book of Joshua is that when carefully studied they supply us with the key to many a mystery in the after history of Israel, which, but for their aid, we should scarcely have unravelled. After the distribution of the land by lot among the tribes of Israel, six towns were set apart, in accordance with the Mosaic instructions in Numbers 35, as places of refuge for unintentional manslayers. Before describing the appointment and setting apart of these towns, the writer repeats in Joshua 20:1-6 the main points of the Mosaic law contained in Numbers 35:9-29 and Deuteronomy 19:1-13, with reference to the reception of the manslayers into these towns. לכם תּנוּ, "give to you," i.e., appoint for yourselves, "cities of refuge," etc. In Joshua 20:6, the two regulations, "until he stand before the congregation for judgment," and "until the death of the high priest," are to be understood, in accordance with the clear explanation given in Numbers 35:24-25, as meaning that the manslayer was to live in the town till the congregation had pronounced judgment upon the matter, and either given him up to the avenger of blood as a wilful murderer, or taken him back to the city of refuge as an unintentional manslayer, in which case he was to remain there till the death of the existing high priest. For further particulars, see at Numbers 35.
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