Originally in the OT those who were fleeing from hasty justice (i.e., the Kinsman Avenger) could grab the horns of the sacrificial altar for safety (cf. Exod. 21:14; 1 Kgs. 1:50-53; 2:28-31). However, this system was replaced by having stragetically located cities within the Promised Land (i.e., 6 Levitical cities, see Joshua 20). Moses had already designated three cities in the trans-Jordan area (cf. Deut. 4:41ff). There are several discussions in the Pentateuch related to the cities of refuge (cf. Exod. 21: 12-14; Num. 35:10-28; Deut. 19:1-13). If a person killed a fellow Israelite by accident, he could flee to one of these six cities. There, a trial would be held (cf. Jos. 20:4). If innocent of premeditated murder (see Special Topic: Murder), he still had to remain in the city until the death of the High Priest. If guilty of murder, he was turned over to the blood avenger of the family he violated for the immediate punishment of death (cf. Jos. 20:9).

Copyright © 2014 Bible Lessons International