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Daily Devotional

March 11

APPOINT OUT FOR YOU CITIES OF REFUGE

by Henry T. Vriesen

Joshua 20–21

Among the twelve tribes of Israel there was one that should not receive a portion of land. It was the tribe of Levi, to which Moses and Aaron belonged. We remember that the priests, which served in the tabernacle, were taken from this tribe. A number of men always assisted the priests; these were called Levites. Aside from that, it seems, it was the duty of these men to serve as teachers of the law of God among the people. The Levites were to live in cities in various parts of the land. The fields outside the city walls were theirs for pasture lands. Forty-eight cities were chosen for this purpose.

The Lord told Joshua to appoint six cities to be called “cities of refuge.” This meant that any person having killed someone “unawares and unwittingly” might find protection and safety in them. When a man was killed, his nearest relative took it upon himself to serve as “avenger of blood,” according to the command, “Whoever sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.”

Joshua chose six cities, three on the one side of the Jordan river and three on the other side. Most of them had a high location. They were so chosen that from any part of the land a man could reach one of them in a day or two days. In case a man would come into one of these cities. the elders had to look unto the matter. If he really was guilty, he was given up to be killed by his avenger; but if innocent, they saw to it that the avenger was not permitted to touch him. Such a city served as a place of refuge for the innocent and he dwelt in it until the death of the high priest. “Then shall the slayer return, and come unto his own city, and unto his own house, unto the city from whence he fled.”

The following were the cities of refuge in the land of Israel: On the north, Kedesh in the tribe of Naphtali; in the center, Shechem at the foot of mount Gerizim in the tribe of Ephraim; and in the south, Hebron (Kirjath-arba) in the tribe of Judah. These were on the west side of the Jordan river. On the east side of the Jordan, the cities were, Golan of Bashan in Manasseh, Ramoth of Gilead in the tribe of Gad, and Bezer in the highlands of the tribe of Reuben.

And the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give to their fathers; and the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

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