* The accused could flee to city of refuge
Of the 48 cities given to the Levites, six were cities of refuge. These six cities were probably put under the Levites’ supervision because they would be the most impartial judges. Such cities were needed because the ancient customs of justice called for revenge in the event of the death of a relative or loved one (2 Samuel 14:71). The Levites would hold a preliminary hearing outside the gates while the accused person was kept in the city until the time of his trial. If the killing was judged accidental, the person would stay in the city until the death of the high priest. At that time, he would be allowed to go free, and he could start a new life without worrying about avengers. If it was not accidental, the person would be delivered to the slain person’s avengers. This system of justice shows how God’s law and his mercy go hand in hand. (NLT)
Numbers 35:6 – “You must give the Levites six cities of refuge, where a person who has accidentally killed someone can flee for safety. In addition, give them forty-two other towns.”
* Be impartial toward the accused until after fair trial
If anyone died because of violence, murder was assumed, but the murder suspect was not automatically assumed guilty. The cities of refuge assured the accused that justice would be served. But if that person left the city, then he or she would be assumed guilty and able to be killed by the avenging party. The people were to be intolerant of the sin yet impartial to the accused so as to have a fair trial. The cities of refuge represented God’s concern for justice in a culture that did not always protect the innocent. It is unjust both to overlook wrongdoing and to jump to conclusions about guilt. When someone is accused of wrongdoing, stand up for justice, protect those not yet proven guilty and listen carefully to all sides of the story. (NLT)
Numbers 35:9-28 – And the Lord said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, designate cities of refuge for people to flee to if they have killed someone accidentally. These cities will be places of protection from a dead person’s relatives who want to avenge the death. The slayer must not be killed before being tried by the community. Designate six cities of refuge for yourselves, three on the east side of the Jordan River and three on the west in the land of Canaan. These cities are for the protection of Israelites, resident foreigners, and traveling merchants. Anyone who accidentally kills someone may flee there for safety.
“‘But if someone strikes and kills another person with a piece of iron, it must be presumed to be murder, and the murderer must be executed. Or if someone strikes and kills another person with a large stone, it is murder, and the murderer must be executed. The same is true if someone strikes and kills another person with a wooden weapon. It must be presumed to be murder, and the murderer must be executed. The victim’s nearest relative is responsible for putting the murderer to death. When they meet, the avenger must execute the murderer. So if in premeditated hostility someone pushes another person or throws a dangerous object and the person dies, it is murder. Or if someone angrily hits another person with a fist and the person dies, it is murder. In such cases, the victim’s nearest relative must execute the murderer when they meet.
“‘But suppose someone pushes another person without premeditated hostility, or throws something that unintentionally hits another person, or accidentally drops a stone on someone, though they were not enemies, and the person dies. If this should happen, the assembly must follow these regulations in making a judgment between the slayer and the avenger, the victim’s nearest relative. They must protect the slayer from the avenger, and they must send the slayer back to live in a city of refuge until the death of the high priest.
“‘But if the slayer leaves the city of refuge, and the victim’s nearest relative finds him outside the city limits and kills him, it will not be considered murder. The slayer should have stayed inside the city of refuge until the death of the high priest. But after the death of the high priest, the slayer may return to his own property.’”
* If you are unjustly accused
David cried out to God to defend him when people wrongly accused him. If you are unjustly accused, your natural reaction may be to lash out in revenge or to give a detailed defense of your every move. Instead, ask God to fight the battle for you. He will clear your name in the eyes of those who really matter. (NLT)
Psalm 35:21-23 – They shout that they have been me doing wrong. “Aha,” they say. “Aha! With our own eyes we saw him do it!”
O Lord, you know all about this. Do not stay silent. Don’t abandon me now, O Lord. Wake up! Rise to my defense! Take up my case, my God and my Lord.
1 2 Samuel 14:7 – Now the rest of the family is demanding, ‘Let us have your son. We will execute him for murdering his brother. He doesn’t deserve to inherit his family’s property.’ But if I do that, I will have no one left, and my husband’s name and family will disappear from the face of the earth.”
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