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Morrish Bible Dictionary
Refuge, Cities of
Six cities were appointed under the law, three on each side of the Jordan, to which any one who had killed a person unintentionally could flee. They were given to the Levites, and the elders of these cities were to judge if the death had been caused accidentally, and if so, the avenger of blood was not allowed to take the manslayer's life. He must remain in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest who 'was anointed with the holy oil,' and then he could return to his possession. Prior to that if he went outside the city and the avenger found him, he might put him to death. Numbers 35:6-32; Joshua 20:2-9; Joshua 21:13-38; 1 Chronicles 6:57,67 .
Typically the manslayer doubtless represents the Jews: they put the Lord Jesus to death, yet they were not at once slain as murderers, but in grace were treated as manslayers, and the assembly became the city of refuge for them, its hope being connected with heaven and not with an earthly inheritance. Peter said they did it ignorantly, Acts 3:17; and the Lord prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." The preaching of the gospel was to 'begin at Jerusalem,' as it did on the day of Pentecost. The people of Israel are still out of their possession, and will not be restored to it in blessing so long as Christ retains His present position of actual Priesthood on high.
The Cities of Refuge on the west of Jordan were KADESH,in mount Naphtali, in Galilee; SHECHEM, in mount Ephraim; and KIRJATH-ARBA, which is HEBRON, in the mountain of Judah. And on the east of the Jordan they were BEZER, in the wilderness, in the tribe of Reuben; RAMOTH-IN-GILEAD, in the tribe of Gad; and GOLAN, in Bashan, in the tribe of Manasseh. Joshua 20:7,8 . It has been calculated that the distance of these from city to city would be about 70 miles, so that no one would in any part be farther than about 35 miles from one of them.