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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Numbers 35

Verses 1-34

  1. SPECIAL CITIES IN CANAAN! (Ch.35)
    1. CITIES FOR THE LEVITES! (1-8)
    2. Town Dimensions for Levites. In feet [cubit = 18”]
    3. CITIES OF REFUGE! (9-34)
    4. 6 of the 48 cities were designated cities of refuge.
    5. 6 Cities of Refuge.
      1. The law provided for the innocent 6 cities of refuge scattered at convenient locations throughout the land. (Names listed ion Joshua 20)
      2. Bezer = Salvation/fortress; Kedesh = Sanctuary/holy; Shechem = Our Strength/shoulder; Hebron = Our Fellowship; Ramoth = Our Elevation/heights; Golan = Our Joy/circle/complete.
    6. God makes a distinction between murder & manslaughter; the intentional & the accidental. Murder by deliberate intent, manslaughter by accident.
      1. We follow this distinction in modern law. (Intent to kill?)
      2. In that day, the nation had no police force to investigate crimes & prosecute criminals, so the innocent had to be protected from angry family members who might want to take justice into their own hands.
        1. Story: Almost night fall, driving with Bill Ros in mountain area above Bacold, P.I., ran over a chicken. “Drive, Drive!” Locals would have Bolo’d us!
      3. In the city of refuge, the fugitive was safe until the elders held court & decided whether he was guilty of murder or not.
    7. (19) The Avenger of blood - The next of kin to the slain person was obliged to take up arms against him & put him to death.
      1. He had full sanction of the law behind him. [Gen.9:6 established this]
    8. It was not fitting that Israel and the Lord, who lived in Israel’s midst, should occupy a polluted land. So blood vengeance was not an option but a theological necessity.
      1. This law provided for the protection of the innocent & the condemnation of the guilty. It was a just law.
      2. It’s unfortunate that our laws today often are misapplied so that it is easy for the guilty to go free.
    9. Jesus Christ is our “city of refuge”! (see Heb.6:18)
      1. No avenger following the track of past sin can hurt the soul that shelters in Him
        1. Only we must never venture beyond the precincts of His salvation.
      2. When we trust Him, our sins are all forgiven & judgment is past.
        1. If the fugitive left the city, he was in danger of death.
      3. In Jesus we have eternal life. Our High Priest will never die; therefore we are saved eternally!
    10. These 6 cities of refuge are beautiful types of Christ:
      1. They were Appointed by God! (An act of grace, for all men are sinners & deserve to die)
      2. They were Announced to the world! (Named in Joshua 20:7,8 & they could never be changed)
        1. There were many other more prominent cities, but none could shelter the sinner.
        2. There are many religions but there is only 1 way of salv as announced in Gods word
      3. They were Accessible to all! (Arranged so that no tribe was too far from the place of safety)
        1. Tradition tells us: the priest made sure the roads were in good repair; That regular landmarks were put up to guide the fleeing person; The gates of the cities were never closed!
        2. What a picture of Christ, the way to the city is clear!!!
      4. They were Adequate to meet the need! (As long as the slayer remained in the city, he was safe)
    11. These 48 cities must have been centers of religious influence throughout the land.
      1. As cities set on a hill that could not be hid; As salt staying corruption; As lights along a rock-bound coast - so must they have stood in the Holy Land.
      2. So should our homes be in our neighborhood, our city, our land.
    12. Note it says “Flee!” - Such a person could not afford to delay!
      1. Same for lost sinners today. Don’t delay! Run to Jesus your city of refuge!
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Numbers 35". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/numbers-35.html. 2017.