Numbers 35:24
Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.The case of the innocent slayer is here contemplated. In a doubtful case there would necessarily have to be a judicial decision as to the guilt or innocence of the person who claimed the right of asylum.22-28. But if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon him any thing without laying of wait, &c.—Under the excitement of a sudden provocation, or violent passion, an injury might be inflicted issuing in death; and for a person who had thus undesignedly committed slaughter, the Levitical cities offered the benefit of full protection. Once having reached the nearest, for one or other of them was within a day's journey of all parts of the land, he was secure. But he had to "abide in it." His confinement within its walls was a wise and salutary rule, designed to show the sanctity of human blood in God's sight, as well as to protect the manslayer himself, whose presence and intercourse in society might have provoked the passions of the deceased's relatives. But the period of his release from this confinement was not until the death of the high priest. That was a season of public affliction, when private sorrows were sunk or overlooked under a sense of the national calamity, and when the death of so eminent a servant of God naturally led all to serious consideration about their own mortality. The moment, however, that the refugee broke through the restraints of his confinement and ventured beyond the precincts of the asylum, he forfeited the privilege, and, if he was discovered by his pursuer, he might be slain with impunity. If the man-slayer flee to the city of refuge. Then the congregation,.... That is, the court of judicature, assembled together to hear and try this cause:

shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood; shall hear what both have to say, and pass sentence:

according to these judgments; these judicial laws and rules of judgment before delivered, exemplified in various cases.

Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the {h} revenger of blood according to these judgments:

(h) That is, his next kinsman.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24. according to these judgements] i.e. guided by the foregoing specimen cases. A similar type of rule, based on hypothetical cases, is seen in the ‘Judgements’ in Exodus 21:1 to Exodus 22:17.

24–28. The legal procedure in the case of accidental homicide.Special instructions are given in Numbers 35:16-28, with reference to the judicial procedure. First of all (Numbers 35:16-21), with regard to qualified slaying or murder. If any person has struck another with an iron instrument (an axe, hatchet, hammer, etc.), or "with a stone of the hand, from which one dies," i.e., with a stone which filled the hand, - a large stone, therefore, with which it was possible to kill, - or "with a wooden instrument of the hand, from which one dies," i.e., with a thick club, or a large, strong wooden instrument, and he then died (so that he died in consequence), he was a murderer, who was to be put to death. "For the suspicion would rest upon any one who had used an instrument, that endangered life and therefore was not generally used in striking, that he had intended to take life away" (Knobel).
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