Joshua 20:9
These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojournes among them, that whoever kills any person at unawares might flee thither, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, until he stood before the congregation.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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).

For the stranger; not only proselytes, but others also; because this was a matter of common right, that a distinction might be made between casual man-slayers and wilful murderers. These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel,.... For the common use of them all, and not for that tribe only in which they stood:

and for the stranger that sojourneth among them; not only for the proselytes of righteousness, but for the proselytes of the gate also, as well as for the natives of Israel; Christ is a refuge for Jews and Gentiles, for all sinners that flee to him:

that whosoever killeth any person unawares might flee thither; and find shelter and safety:

and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood; getting thither before he could overtake him:

until he stood before the congregation: either before the congregation, the elders of the city, or court of judicature in the city of refuge, or before the court of his own city, from whence he fled, if summoned thither.

These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them, that whosoever killeth any person at unawares might flee thither, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, until he stood before the {e} congregation.

(e) Before the Judges.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. These were the cities appointed] “Civitates constitutæ,” Vulgate. “The citees ordeyned,” Wyclif.

for the stranger that sojourneth] “And to comlyngis that dwellen among hem;” Wyclif. Observe that the Mosaic Law applied its merciful provisions not only to the members of the Elect Nation, as though they were a sacred “caste,” but to the “stranger” also that sojourned among them. The existence of such a class of “naturalized foreigners” in Israel is easily accounted for:—

(a)  Themixed multitude” that came out of Egypt (Exodus 12:38) formed one element;

(b)  The remains of the Canaanites—never wholly extirpated—formed a second;

(c)  Captives taken in war formed a third;

(d)  Fugitives, hired servants, merchants formed a fourth. The census of these in Solomon’s time gave a return of 153,600 males (2 Chronicles 2:17), which was nearly equal to about a tenth of the whole population.

that whosoever killeth any person] Jewish commentators tell us how in later times, in order that the asylum offered to the involuntary homicide might be more secure, (a) the roads leading to the Cities of Refuge were always kept in thorough repair, and required to be at least 32 cubits broad; (b) all obstructions were removed that might stay the flier’s foot or hinder his speed; (c) no hillock was left, no river was allowed over which there was not a bridge; (d) at every turning there were posts erected bearing the words “Refuge,” “Refuge,” to guide the unhappy man in his flight; (e) when once settled in such a city the manslayer had a convenient habitation assigned to him, and the citizens were to teach him some trade in order that he might support himself.—See Kitto’s Biblical Cyclopædia, i. p. 527.Verse 9. - Appointed. Or, of refuge or resort. Our version has followed the LXX. and Vulgate here. Greek, unawares; Hebrew, in error or inadvertently, as above. Matthew Henry's note on the cities of refuge is worthy of remark. He says, "I delight not in quibbling on names, yet am willing to take notice of these." Thus Kedesh, he reminds us, is holy. Shechem, a shoulder, reminding us of Him upon whose shoulder the government was to be. Hebron is fellowship, recalling the fellowship we have in Christ. Bezer is a fortification, reminding us of God our stronghold (later criticism, however, gives another derivation to this unusual word, which in Job 22:24, 25, means the ore of a precious metal), Ramoth is height or exaltation, and to such exaltation we are called in Jesus Christ. Lastly, Golan is exultation, so says Matthew Henry, deriving it from גִיל or גוּל. But Gesenius derives it with equal probability from גלה "to make bare," hence to lead into captivity.



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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