Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan;
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10, 11) When ye be come over Jordan . . . —
Or, Ye are going over the Jordan into the land of Canaan; and ye shall appoint
. . .
35:9-34 To show plainly the abhorrence of murder, and to provide the more effectually for the punishment of the murderer, the nearest relation of the deceased, under the title of avenger of blood, (or the redeemer of blood,) in notorious cases, might pursue, and execute vengeance. A distinction is made, not between sudden anger and malice aforethought, both which are the crime of murder; but between intentionally striking a man with any weapon likely to cause death, and an unintentional blow. In the latter case alone, the city of refuge afforded protection. Murder in all its forms, and under all disguises, pollutes a land. Alas! that so many murders, under the name of duels, prize-fights, &c. should pass unpunished. There were six cities of refuge; one or other might be reached in less than a day's journey from any part of the land. To these, man-slayers might flee for refuge, and be safe, till they had a fair trial. If acquitted from the charge, they were protected from the avenger of blood; yet they must continue within the bounds of the city till the death of the high priest. Thus we are reminded that the death of the great High Priest is the only means whereby sins are pardoned, and sinners set at liberty. These cities are plainly alluded to, both in the Old and New Testament, we cannot doubt the typical character of their appointment. Turn ye to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope, saith the voice of mercy, Zec 9:12, alluding to the city of refuge. St. Paul describes the strong consolation of fleeing for refuge to the hope set before us, in a passage always applied to the gracious appointment of the cities of refuge, Heb 6:18. The rich mercies of salvation, through Christ, prefigured by these cities, demand our regard. 1. Did the ancient city rear its towers of safety on high? See Christ raised up on the cross; and is he not exalted at the right hand of his Father, to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins? 2. Does not the highway of salvation, resemble the smooth and plain path to the city of refuge? Survey the path that leads to the Redeemer. Is there any stumbling-block to be found therein, except that which an evil heart of unbelief supplies for its own fall? 3. Waymarks were set up pointing to the city. And is it not the office of the ministers of the gospel to direct sinners to Him? 4. The gate of the city stood open night and day. Has not Christ declared, Him that cometh unto me I will in nowise cast out? 5. The city of refuge afforded support to every one who entered its walls. Those who have reached the refuge, may live by faith on Him whose flesh is meat indeed, and whose blood is drink indeed. 6. The city was a refuge for all. In the gospel there is no respect of persons. That soul lives not which deserves not Divine wrath; that soul lives not which may not in simple faith hope for salvation and life eternal, through the Son of God.
Nine cities were eventually given to the Levites from the large joint inheritance of Judah and Simeon; three were taken from the territory of Naphtali, and the other tribes gave each four apiece.
Nu 35:9-34. The Blood Avenger.
No text from Poole on this verse.
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them,.... Now, directly:
when ye come over Jordan into the land of Canaan; as they quickly would, being now very near it, and of which there was the utmost certainty, since the Lord had promised to bring them over that river, and put them in possession of that land. Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
The pasture lands of the different towns were to measure "from the town wall outwards a thousand cubits round about," i.e., on each of the four sides. "And measure from without the city, the east side 2000 cubits, and the south side 2000 cubits, and the west side 2000 cubits, and the north side 2000 cubits, and the city in the middle," i.e., so that the town stood in the middle of the measured lines, and the space which they occupied was not included in the 2000 cubits. The meaning of these instructions, which have caused great perplexity to commentators, and have latterly been explained by Saalschtz (Mos. R. pp. 100, 101) in a marvellously erroneous manner, was correctly expounded by J. D. Michaelis in the notes to his translation. We must picture the towns and the surrounding fields as squares, the pasturage as stretching 1000 cubits from the city wall in every direction, as the accompanying figures show, and the length of each outer side as 2000 cubits, apart from the length of the city wall: so that, if the town itself occupied a square of 1000 cubits (see fig. a), the outer side of the town fields would measure 2000 + 1000 cubits in every direction; but if each side of the city wall was only 500 cubits long (see fig. b), the outer side of the town fields would measure 2000 + 500 cubits in every direction.
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