The laws concerning the cities of refuge, ver. 1 - 6.
The appointment of those cities, ver. 7 - 9.
2: Appoint - The possessions being now divided among you, reserve
some of them for the use which I have commanded.
Cities of refuge - Designed to typify the relief which the gospel provides
for poor, penitent sinners, and their protection from the curse of the law
and the wrath of God, in our Lord Jesus, to whom believers fly for
3: Unwittingly - Heb. Through ignorance, or error, or
mistake, and without knowledge. The same thing twice repeated to
cut off all the expectations that wilful murderers might have of protection
here; God having declared, that such should be taken even from his altar,
that they might be killed. It is strange that any Christians should make
their sanctuaries give protection to such persons whom God hath so expressly
excepted from it! Avenger - The nearest kinsman, who had right or power
to demand, or take vengeance of the slaughter.
4: The gate - Where the judges used to sit. His cause - Shall give
them a true relation of the fact, and all its circumstances.
They shall take him - If they are satisfied in the relation he makes,
concerning the fact, otherwise it had been a vain thing to examine.
Give a place - Which they might well allow him, because God gave them the
city with a reservation for such persons.
6: Stand - Which was the posture of the accused and accusers.
The congregation - The council appointed to judge of these matters, not
the council of the city of refuge, for they had examined him before,
ver.(4), but of the city to which he belonged, or in or nigh which the
fact was committed, as appears from (Nu 35:25).
7: And they appointed - Concerning these cities note,
That they were all upon mountains, that they might be seen at a great
distance, and so direct those who fled thither.
That they were seated at convenient distance one from another, for the
benefit of the several tribes; for Kedesh was in the north, Hebron
in the south, and Shechem between them.
That they all belonged to the Levites; partly that these causes might
be more impartially examined, and justly determined by them who are
presumed best able to understand the law of God, and most obliged to
follow it and not to be biass'd by any affection or corrupt interest, and
partly, that their reputation with the people, and their good counsels,
might lay a restraint upon revengeful persons, who might be inclined to
follow the man - slayer thither, and endeavour to kill him there. It was
likewise an advantage to the poor refugee, that when he might not go up
to the house of the Lord, yet he had the servants of God's house with
him, to instruct him, and pray for him, and help to make up the want of
8: They assigned - Or, had assigned or given; for they were
given by Moses, (De 4:41), &c. or, they applied them to that use
to which Moses designed them.
9: The stranger - Not only proselytes, but others also; because this
was a matter of common right, that a distinction might be made between
casual man - slayers, and wilful murderers.