Numbers 35:6 MEANING

Numbers 35:6
(6, 7, 8) And among the cities which ye shall give . . . --The construction of this verse is involved; or, rather, there is a suspension of the subject in Numbers 35:6, and a resumption of it in Numbers 35:7-8. The verses may be rendered thus: And as to the cities which ye shall give to the Levites, viz., the six cities of refuge which ye shall give that the manslayer may flee thither (and in addition to these ye shall give forty and two cities); as to all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites, viz., forty and eight cities, them and their suburbs; now as to the cities which ye shall give from the possession of the children of Israel; from the many ye shall take many, and from the few ye shall take few . . . It had already been announced in general terms that a place should be appointed whither any one should flee who had unintentionally smitten a man so that he died, and had not lain in wait with a view to commit murder (Exodus 21:12-13). In the verses which follow, the law is delivered at length, and is repeated and further expanded in Deuteronomy 19:1-13. There were many reasons why all the cities of refuge were Levitical cities. Of these reasons the chief probably were:--(1) That these cities were specially consecrated to the Lord (see Joshua 20:7, "And they appointed," &c.--Heb., consecrated); and (2) that it was to the priests and Levites that the people looked as administrators of justice.

Verse 6. - And among the cities. Rather, "and the cities." וְאֶת הֶעָרים - καὶ τὰς πόλεις. The construction is broken, or rather is continuous throughout verses 6-8, the accusative being repeated. Six cities for refuge. See below on verse 11.

35:1-8 The cities of the priests and Levites were not only to accommodate them, but to place them, as religious teachers, in several parts of the land. For though the typical service of the tabernacle or temple was only in one place, the preaching of the word of God, and prayer and praise, were not thus confined. These cities were to be given out of each tribe. Each thus made a grateful acknowledgement to God. Each tribe had the benefit of the Levites dwelling amongst them, to teach them the knowledge of the Lord; thus no parts of the country were left to sit in darkness. The gospel provides that he who is taught in the word, should communicate to him that teaches, in all good things, Ga 6:6. We are to free God's ministers from distracting cares, and to leave them at leisure for the duties of their station; so that they may be wholly employed therein, and avail themselves of every opportunity, by acts of kindness, to gain the good-will of the people, and to draw their attention.And among the cities which ye shall give unto the Levites,.... The number of which is not yet expressed, but is afterwards: there shall be

six cities for refuge; a sort of asylums, of which there were many among the Heathens, perhaps in imitation of these, for persons to have recourse to for safety, when in danger of life: the Septuagint render the words, "cities of flight" (b); or to flee unto, which certainly was the use of them: to this the apostle alludes when he speaks of some that fled for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before them, Hebrews 6:18, the word (c) used for refuge signifies "gathering or receiving", for here persons in distress gathered or betook themselves; and here they were received, retained, protected, and sheltered: what and where these six cities were to be, and were, is after shown:

which ye shall appoint for the manslayer; not for any and everyone, not for one that killed a man presumptuously and purposely, through enmity and malice, but for one that did it ignorantly, unawares, and without design:

that he may flee thither; with all haste, after the commission of the fact; and, to facilitate his flight, and that he might have no interruption in it, the sanhedrim were obliged to prepare the ways to the cities of refuge, and to make them fit and large; and they removed everything that might cause him to stumble; and they did not leave in the way neither an hillock, nor a dale, nor a river but they made a bridge over it, that nothing might retard him that fled thither, as it is said:

thou shalt prepare thee a way; Deuteronomy 19:3 and the breadth of the way to the cities of refuge was not less than thirty two cubits; and at the parting of ways (on posts erected) were written, "refuge, refuge", so that the slayer might know (the way) and turn there (as this directed him): and on the fifteenth of Adar or February, they met every year, to take care of this business (d); and they also appointed two disciples of the wise men, or two studious and understanding persons, to accompany him, not so much for the direction of the way, as lest the avenger of blood should meet with him, and slay him in the way; and who were to talk to him, and persuade him not to do it, suggesting to him that it was not done designedly, but unawares, and that it would be a bad thing to kill a man for what he did not intend to do, and which was done without any malice or enmity to the person killed, and with such like words to cool and appease the avenger (e):

and to them ye shall add forty two cities; according to the Jewish writers these also were cities of refuge; for so they say (f),"all the cities of the Levites receive or are refuges, every one of them is a city of refuge, as it is said, "and to them ye shall add", &c. the Scripture makes them all alike for refuge: what difference is there between cities of refuge, which are separated for refuge, and the rest of the cities of the Levites? the gates of the cities of refuge receive, whether according to knowledge or not, (which Mr. Selden (g) interprets, whether the inhabitants will or not; but the sense of Maimonides elsewhere (h), and of other writers, is plainly this, whether according to the knowledge and intention of the manslayer or not, whether he knows it to be a city of refuge or :not, and whether he purposely came thither for safety or not,) and he that enters into them is safe; but the rest of the cities of the Levites do not receive, but according to knowledge (when the manslayer knowingly and designedly came thither for shelter); and a manslayer that dwells in a city of refuge gives no more for his house, but he that dwells in the other cities of the Levites gives more (or pays for it) to the owner of the house;''but though this is their unanimous opinion, it rather seems, according to the letter of the Scripture, that only six were cities of refuge, and the rest were for the Levites to dwell in by themselves.

(b) , Sept. (c) "receptus", Junius & Tremellius; "collectionis", Piscator; R. Sol. Ohel Moed, fol. 82. 1. "proprie significat collectionem vel retentionem", Munster. (d) Maimon. Hilchot Rotzeach, c. 8. sect. 5. (e) Misn. Maccot, c. 2. sect. 5. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. (f) Maimon. ut supra, (d)) sect. 11. (g) De Jure Natarae & Gentium, l. 4. c. 2. p. 489. (h) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Maccot, l. 2. sect. 4.

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