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CHAPTER 19 May 2 
Cities of Refuge 
When Yahweh your God shall cut off the nations whose land Yahweh your God gives you, and you succeed them and dwell in their cities and in their houses, 2you must set apart three cities for you in the midst of your land, which Yahweh your God gives you to possess. 3You shall prepare the way, and divide the borders of your land which Yahweh your God causes you to inherit, into three parts, that any manslayer may flee there. 4This is the case of the manslayer that shall flee there and live. Whoever kills his neighbour unawares and didn’t hate him in time past, 5as when a man goes into the forest with his neighbour to chop wood, and his hand fetches a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle and hits his neighbour so that he dies; he shall flee to one of these cities and live, 6lest the avenger of blood pursue the manslayer while his heart is hot and overtake him because the way is long, and strike him mortally, whereas he was not worthy of death because he didn’t hate him in time past. 7Therefore I command you, saying, You must set apart three cities for yourselves. 8If Yahweh your God enlarges your border as He has sworn to your fathers, and gives you all the land which He promised to give to your fathers, 9if you keep all this commandment to do what I command you this day, to love Yahweh your God and walk always in His ways, then you shall add three cities more for yourselves besides these three, 10so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land which Yahweh your God gives you for an inheritance, and so guilt for blood be upon you. 11But if any man hates his neighbour, and lies in wait for him and rises up against him and strikes him mortally so that he dies, and he flees into one of these cities, 12then the elders of his city must send and bring him from there, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood that he may die. 13Your eye shall not pity him, but you must put away the innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with you. 14You must not remove your neighbour’s landmark, which those of old time have set, in your inheritance which you shall inherit, in the land that Yahweh your God gives you to possess it.
 15One witness must not rise up against a man for any iniquity or for any sin that he commits. At the mouth of two witnesses or at the mouth of three witnesses shall a matter be established. 16If an unrighteous witness rises up against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, 17then both the men in the controversy shall stand before Yahweh, before the priests and the judges who shall be in those days. 18The judges shall make diligent inquisition, and if the witness is a false witness and has testified falsely against his brother, 19then you must do to him as he had thought to do to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from the midst of you. 20Those who remain shall hear and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil in the midst of you. 21Your eyes must not pity; life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.


19:2 The person who committed something worthy of death but didn’t as it were wilfully do it represents each of us. The language of the city of refuge therefore becomes applicable to Christ, our refuge from the results of our sin (Heb. 6:18).
19:3 The command to prepare a way along which to flee to the cities of refuge is expressed with the very same Hebrew words used about God through the Angels preparing a way for Israel to flee along, out of Egypt to the promised land (Ex. 23:20). This was obviously done purely at God’s initiative. But now, Israel were asked to do the same- to prepare a way for others’ salvation. When we reflect upon our own way of escape from this world, it’s clear enough that it was by grace. Our response to that grace must be like Israel’s- to prepare a way for others to flee, when they like us find themselves in a situation that is spiritually against them, although not of their conscious choice. In fact, if Israel were indifferent to preparing the way for others’ salvation, then innocent blood would be shed and they would be responsible for it (:10). Indifference to providing others with a way of escape from their sin and death means we are actually guilty of their lack of salvation. And yet we tend to think that committed sin is all we have to worry about / avoid. The lesson here, however, bites far more caustically and insistently into our comfort zone. If we are indifferent to marking out the way of escape for others, their blood will be upon our heads. Our chief excuses for not witnessing enthusiastically basically amount to laziness, indifference, not getting our act together because we don’t see we have to… when actually, there is an intense urgency about our task.
19:6 The avenger of blood- But Israel were not to avenge (Lev. 19:18). But they couldavenge, and provisions were made for their human desire to do so in some cases (see too Num. 35:12). These provisions must also be seen as a modification of the command not to murder. The highest level was not to avenge; but for the harshness of men's hearts, a concession was made in some cases, and on God's prerogative. We have no right to assume that prerogative. Rather than continually make use of God’s many concessions to human weakness, we should seek to live on a higher level.
19:9 Israel would be provided with more cities of refuge if they were obedient; the way of escape from sin would become easier, as it does for us the more we are obedient to God’s principles.