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gregation, had been before established. As the Israelites were now approaching the promised land, where it would no longer be needful to dwell in tents, the Almighty here makes arrangements for their more permanent abodes, and de. termines that they shall have a certain proportion of the cities in each tribe, allotted to them. By this wise and merciful regulation, the Levites were dispersed equally throughout all the thousands of Israel, that none might be excluded from the advantages of their neighbourhood, instruction, or advice. Thus granting to the Levites, the extensive suburbs attached to these cities, extending, as it appears, about three quarters of a mile, around the walls, as pasturages for their flocks and herds, but bestowing upon them no arable land like the rest of their brethren. It appears that, by this simple arrangement, care was taken that their time and attention should neither of them be occupied too much by the charge of this world's goods, but be left at their disposal for the devotional and sacrificial services to which they were dedicated.
The advantages of a class of men thus set apart for holy purposes, and yet residing in the midst of their brethren as their guides, their counsellors, and their friends, are so obvious, that had not such an arrangement been clearly traceable in the writings of the New Testament, it is too evidently for the benefit of mankind, and too plainly deducible from these dealings of the Almighty with his ancient people, to have been overlooked or neglected. Even the more worldly politician would have seen the necessity for some such institution. It is well for us, however, that the word of our blessed Lord and the writings of his apostles, afford such clear and plain directions upon this subject, that the necessity of a “ ministry of reconciliation ” can never be disputed by any enlightened reader of the Divine Word, but must be acknowledged to form as entirely a part and portion of the religion of the Redeemer, as even the atonement itself.
NUMBERS Xxxv. 6-28.
6. And among the cities which ye shall give unto the Levites, there shall be six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint for the manslayer that he may flee thither : and to them ye shall add forty and two cities.
7. So all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites shall be forty and eight cities : them shall ye give with their suburbs.
8. And the cities which ye shall give shall be of the possession of the children of Israel : from them that have many ye shall give many; but from them that have few ye shall give few : every one shall give of his cities unto the Levites according to his inheritance which he inheriteth.
9. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying.
unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan :
11. Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you ; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares.
12. And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger : that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment.
13. And of these cities which ye shall give six cities shall ye have for refuge.
14. Ye shall give three cities on this side Jordan, and three cities shall ye give in the land of Caaaan, which shall be cities of refuge.
15. These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them; that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither.
16. And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, 80 that he die, he is a murderer : the murderer shall surely be put to death.
17. And if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer : the murderer shall surely be put to death.
18. Or if he smite him with an hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer : the murderer shall surely be put to death.
19. The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer : when he meeteth him, he shall slay him.
20. But if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die;
21. Or in enmity smite him with his hand, that he die : he that smote him shall surely be put to death : for he is a murderer : the revenger of blood shall slay the murderer when he meeteth him.
22. But if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon him anything without laying of wait,
23. Or with any stone, wherewith a man may die, seeing him not, and cast it upon him, that he die, and was not his enemy, neither sought his harm :
24. Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments :
25. And the congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the revenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to the city of his refuge, whither he was fled : and he shall abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which was anointed with the holy oil.
26. But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled :
27. And the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer : he shall not be guilty of blood :
28. Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest : but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession.
We have here the first intimation of a remarkable peculiarity in the laws of the Israelites, the appointment of cities of refuge to which he who had been guilty, not of murder, but of manslaughter might fly, and be safe from the pursuit of the avenger of blood. These six cities of mercy were placed among the eight-and-forty belonging to the Levites, who would, from their habits and avocations, be the most likely to compassionate the lot of those who had need of such a refuge. In the latter portion of the chapter, the persons who should find safety in these cities are plainly described, when it says, “ Every one that killeth any person unawares, may flee thither;" but the intentional murderer was most emphatically excepted, “ Ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death, but be shall surely be put to death.”
The manslayer, however, was to be tried by the congregation, although he might have gained the city of refuge, that it might be clearly proved that he did not smite in enmity, or as our laws would express it, with “ malice prepense,” for it says, “ Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood, accord