Numbers 35

Numbers 35 has Moses addressing what happens with the Levites when they come into the Promised Land.  Remember, this is the tribe of the priests who serve the entire people.  They do not have an inheritance of their own, but rather are to be given land from each of the tribes.  “Command the people of Israel to give to the Levites some of the inheritance of their possession as cities for them to dwell in”. They are to be provided for by the rest of the people.  Not just for the humans, but also for their livestock.

“The pasturelands of the cities, which you shall give to the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city outward a thousand cubits all around”.  The Levites have livestock as part of the offering and sacrifices that the people were to bring.  So they need land to keep these animals.  God gives some specifics about how much land was to be carved out, and the measurements are given for each side of the city.  It was a significant amount of land, because they had a lot of livestock to care for.

The other part of the instruction of Moses in this chapter involves the cities of refuge God ordered to be set up in the Promised Land.  This was a place that people accused of murder could flee for safety until a ruling was made. “The cities that you give to the Levites shall be the six cities of refuge, where you shall permit the manslayer to flee, and in addition to them you shall give forty-two cities”.  There were to be six of these set up around the kingdom where people could go until things could be sorted out.

There were 42 additional cities God required be given to the Levites, but only six were to be refuge cities. “The cities shall be for you a refuge from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation for judgment”.  This place of safety allowed time for the facts to be gathered and required that “he must remain in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest”.  He was safe as long as he stayed inside the city.  But leaving the walls would put him at risk and subject to retribution.

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