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Bible Dictionaries

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

City of Refuge

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Scattered throughout the tribes of Israel were forty-eight cities given to the Levites. Among these were six cities known as cities of refuge (Numbers 35:6-7).

A city of refuge was a place where a person who had killed another could flee for safety till the judges decided whether the death was intentional or accidental. Those judged to be guilty of murder were executed. Those judged to have caused the death accidentally could continue living in the city of refuge. This may have limited their freedom, but at least it gave them official protection. In the city of refuge they were safe from any revenge from the family of the dead person (Exodus 21:12-14; Numbers 35:9-14; Joshua 20:2-6).


There were three cities of refuge in Israel’s territory west of Jordan (Kedesh, Shechem and Hebron), and three in its territory east of Jordan (Golan, Ramoth-gilead and Bezer). On each side of Jordan there was one city in the northern section, one in the central and one in the southern (Numbers 35:14-15; Joshua 20:7-9). All six cities had clearly marked roads leading to them so that the refugee could reach safety quickly (Deuteronomy 19:2-6).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'City of Refuge'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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