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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

Joshua 20

Verses 1-9

Chapter 20

Now in the twentieth chapter you remember that when they came into the land, they were to establish cities of refuge so that anybody who had killed someone accidentally, who had not had a foremalice or hatred towards the person, but killed them accidentally, they could flee to the city of refuge from the avenger of death.

Now we talked to you about the culture of revenge killing. It was quite a deeply ingrained cultural practice. It is still practiced today in New Guinea, and in some of the more primitive areas, revenge killing. It doesn't matter if they killed your son by accident. If they killed a member of your family, then you were duty bound to kill them or if you couldn't catch them, to kill a member of their family.

So, in these days because there were cases where a person would accidentally kill someone else, they didn't have any hatred or malice against them, but it was just purely an accident. In order to be fair, in order to be just, God had them establish six cities that they called the cities of refuge where you could flee and be safe from the avenger of blood, three on either side of the Jordan River. They were so located in the land that you were never more than a half day's run from one of these cities. You would be running to be sure.

So, as we look at the cities of refuge that were appointed within the land, we find the first one was in the Galilee region, the upper part of the land in Kadesh, which was up in the Galilee region. The second one was right in the southern part of the land in Hebron, which is down in the southern most section. Then the third was at Shechem, which was right in the heart of the land. So really in sort of the middle area of the south in Hebron, in the heart of the land in Shechem, and then up in the Galilee region in Kadesh, the three cities of refuge were established that a person guilty of killing someone accidentally could flee and be protected until he had at least a fair trial. "





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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Joshua 20". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/joshua-20.html. 2014.