Now that the boundaries for the land of Canaan have been set, Numbers 35 fills us in on the towns for the Levites and cities of refuge.
“On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho, the Lord said to Moses, ‘Command the Israelites to give the Levites towns to live in from the inheritance the Israelites will possess. And give them pasturelands around the towns. Then they will have towns to live in and pasturelands for the cattle they own and all their other animals.’” – Numbers 35:1-3
See, God does have a heart! LOL!
“Six of the towns you give the Levites will be cities of refuge, to which a person who has killed someone may flee.” – Numbers 35:6
WTF? People who commit murder get their own town to live in!?!?!?
“They will be places of refuge from the avenger, so that anyone accused of murder may not die before they stand trial before the assembly.” – Numbers 35:13
Okay, that makes a little more sense. However, murderers get trials, as they should, but do something God considers sexually immoral and you are punished without a trial. Not exactly fair or just.
“If anyone strikes someone a fatal blow with an iron object, that person is a murderer; the murderer is to be put to death. Or if anyone is holding a stone and strikes someone a fatal blow with it, that person is a murderer; the murderer is to be put to death. Or if anyone is holding a wooden object and strikes someone a fatal blow with it, that person is a murderer; the murderer is to be put to death.” – Numbers 35:16-18
Very specific. Does this mean all of the Israelites commanded to slaughter others should be put to death? Does this mean God, as the commander of the Israelites, should be put to death?
“But if without enmity someone suddenly pushes another or throws something at them unintentionally or, without seeing them, drops on them a stone heavy enough to kill them, and they die, then since that other person was not an enemy and no harm was intended, the assembly must judge between the accused and the avenger of blood according to these regulations. The assembly must protect the one accused of murder from the avenger of blood and send the accused back to the city of refuge to which they fled. The accused must stay there until the death of the high priest, who was anointed with the holy oil.” – Numbers 35:22-25
Okay, this makes sense. Maybe not the exact punishment but the fact that the punishment is less severe for unintentional murder. This is similar to manslaughter in society today.
“Anyone who kills a person is to be put to death as a murderer only on the testimony of witnesses. But no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.” – Numbers 35:30
Again, agreed, assuming there is lack of other evidence. Eyewitness testimony alone is shaky at best.
“Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it. Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell, for I, the Lord, dwell among the Israelites.” – Numbers 35:33-34
God is conveniently forgetting the slaughter He just ordered a few chapters ago.
To conclude Numbers 35, it was filled with several rules on murder, some of which make sense and others not so much. All in all this was a milder chapter of the Bible compared to others.
Coming Soon: Numbers – Chapter 36: Inheritance of Zelophehad’s Daughters