Cities of Refuge were an amazing departure from the Eastern Culture. The value of Life was considered very high and the major deterrent to killing was the concept of avenging the death. A member of the victim’s family was named “avenger of blood” and his duty was to kill the killer. The cities of refuge were designated for those cases that were accidental killings. They served as an alternative to senseless killing to avenge the death.
The killer had to make the case for why the killing was not a murder. If the case could be made, the person would be admitted and given a place to live and a way to make a living. If the avenger of Blood came to complete his duty, the city’s inhabitants would guard and protect the lives of their own. The inhabitants would then be tried for their act and if found innocent, they would still remain until their city’s High priest died.
Two things stand out in today’s world-1st, God places a high value on Human life. He allowed death’s to be avenged, but, made provision for those who accidentally killed another. No special treatment was given to anyone. The killer had to show the act was not intentional and still had to be separated from his lifestyle, family and friends. In addition, each killer had to stand trial in a neutral place and prove their innocence or they would be executed. It was a pretty seamless system that protected victim’s rights and prevented useless vengeance.
2nd– God always paid attention to detail. In every aspect of building the culture, God considered what was right and what was fair. From the division of the lands to the protection of individuals, God always made provision to set his people apart as both special and holy among the peoples of the world. He still does that today. We are called to be separate. We are to live in the world, but not allow the world to live in us. We are to value life as much today as he did 4000 years ago. We cannot be sucked in to the lie that says life is only important if it is a puppy or it is convenient. Truly, all lives matter! The only alternative is that NO lives matter.
God Bless You
The Lord said to Joshua: 2 “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, 3 so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally(B) may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood.(C) 4 When they flee to one of these cities, they are to stand in the entrance of the city gate(D) and state their case before the elders(E) of that city. Then the elders are to admit the fugitive into their city and provide a place to live among them. 5 If the avenger of blood comes in pursuit, the elders must not surrender the fugitive, because the fugitive killed their neighbor unintentionally and without malice aforethought. 6 They are to stay in that city until they have stood trial before the assembly(F) and until the death of the high priest who is serving at that time. Then they may go back to their own home in the town from which they fled.”