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Numbers Chapter 35
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Deuteronomy

Levitical Cities
35:1 God spoke to Moses in the West Plains of Moab on the Jericho Jordan, saying:
35:2 Give orders to the Israelites, and have them give the Levites residential cities from their hereditary holdings. Also provide the Levites suburbs around their cities.
35:3 The cities shall be their residence, while the suburbs shall be for their animals, property, and other amenities.
35:4 The suburbs that you shall give the Levites shall extend outward 1000 cubits from the city wall.
35:5 You shall measure off outside the city, 2000 cubits on the eastern side, 2000 cubits on the southern side, 2000 cubits on the western side, and 2000 cubits on the northern side. This shall constitute the city's suburbs, with the city in the exact center.
35:6 Along with the cities that you shall give to the Levites shall be the six refuge cities, which you shall provide as [places] to which a murderer can flee. Besides these [six] you shall provide an additional 42 cities.
35:7 Therefore, the total number of cities that you shall give the Levites shall be 48 cities along with their suburbs.
35:8 These cities shall be given from the holdings of the Israelites, more from a larger holding, and fewer from a smaller one. Each [tribe] shall therefore give the Levites cities in proportion to the hereditary property that it has been given.

Refuge Cities; Murder
35:9 God spoke to Moses, telling him to
35:10 speak to the Israelites and say to them:

Now that you are crossing the Jordan into the land of Canaan,

35:11 you must designate towns which shall serve you as refuge cities to which a murderer, who killed a person accidentally, can flee.
35:12 These cities shall serve you as a refuge from the avenger, so that a murderer not die until he can stand trial before the courts.
35:13 The towns that you provide for yourselves shall be six cities in all.
35:14 As refuge cities, you shall provide three towns on [this] side of the Jordan, and three in the land of Canaan.
35:15 These cities shall be a place of refuge for both proselytes and residents among the Israelites, so that anyone who accidentally kills a person shall be able to escape there.
35:16 [Of course,] if one strikes [his victim purposely] with an iron weapon, killing him, then he is a murderer, and he must be put to death for murder.
35:17 [Similarly,] if he strikes with a hand-held stone that can be a deadly weapon, and [the victim] dies, he is a murderer and must be put to death for murder.
35:18 Likewise, if he strikes with a deadly wooden hand weapon, and the victim dies, he is a murderer and must be put to death for murder.
35:19 [In such cases, after the trial], the blood avenger shall kill the murderer, and he can kill him wherever he finds him.
35:20 [The same law applies] if [the killer] pushes down [his victim] or throws [something] down on him with hatred, causing [the victim] to die.
35:21 [This is also true] if he maliciously strikes him with his hand, causing [the victim] to die. The person dealing the blow is a murderer and he must be put to death. [Once he has been tried,] the blood avenger shall kill him wherever he finds him.
35:22 [This is not true, however,] if [the killer] pushes down [his victim] accidentally and without malice, or throws any object at him without planning to kill him.
35:23 Even if it is a stone that can kill, if he did not see [the victim], and it killed him by falling on him, [he is not a murderer], since he was not an enemy and did not bear [his victim] any malice.
35:24 [In such cases,] the court shall follow these laws and judge between the killer and the blood avenger.
35:25 The court shall protect the [accidental] murderer from the blood avenger, and return him to the refuge city to which he fled. [The killer] must live there until the death of the high priest anointed with the sacred oil.
35:26 If the killer goes outside the boundaries of the refuge city to which he fled,
35:27 and the blood avenger finds him outside the borders of his refuge city, then if the blood avenger puts the killer to death, it is not an act of murder.
35:28 [The killer] is thus obligated to live in his refuge city until the high priest dies. After the high priest dies, the killer may return to his hereditary land.
35:29 These shall be the rules of law for you for all generations, no matter where you may live.
35:30 If anyone kills a human being, the murderer shall be put to death on the basis of eyewitness testimony. However, a single eyewitness may not testify against a person where the death penalty is involved.
35:31 Do not take ransom for the life of a murderer who is under the death penalty, since he must be put to death.
35:32 Similarly, if one has fled to his refuge city, do not take ransom to allow him to return and live in the land before the high priest dies.
35:33 Do not pollute the land in which you live; it is blood that pollutes the land. When blood is shed in the land, it cannot be atoned for except through the blood of the person who shed it.
35:34 You must not defile the land upon which you live and in which I dwell, since I, God, dwell among the Israelites.



Commentary:

residential cities
  See Leviticus 25:32, Joshua 14:3, 21:2, Ezekiel 45:1; 1 Chronicles 6:42-66.

suburbs
  Migrash in Hebrew. Or, 'pasture,' or, 'common land.' See Leviticus 25:34.

amenities
  (see Nedarim 81a).

1000 cubits
  In the next verse, the Torah says that 2000 cubits shall be measured. Some say that of the 2000 cubits around the city, 1000 shall be clear land, and an additional 1000 shall be fields and vineyards (Sotah 27b, according to Rashi, Rashbam). Others say that 1000 cubits shall be clear land, and an additional 2000 cubits, fields and vineyards (Yad, Shemitah 13:2; Chinukh 342). There is also a question as to whether this area is round or square (Eruvin 49b, 51a; Midrash HaGadol; Paaneach Razah; cf. Ramban).

48 cities
  Joshua 21:41, 1 Chronicles 6:42-66.

refuge cities
  See Exodus 21:13.

until he can stand trial...
  Thus, all murderers were brought to the refuge cities before trial (Makkoth 9a; Yad, Rotze'ach 5:7).

residents
  Resident aliens; that is a resident alien gentile who kills another gentile (Makkoth9a; Yad, Rotze'ach 5:3). See Leviticus 25:6, 35, 47, Genesis 23:4.

hand-held
  Or, 'stone that fits in the hand' (Targum); or, 'a fist-sized stone' (Sifri; Rashi).

after the trial
  See Numbers 35:12 (Yad, Rotze'ach 1:5).

wherever he finds him
  (cf. Rashi; Yad, Sanhedrin 14:8).

court
  Edah in Hebrew, literally, 'community' or 'assembly.' The court, however, acts as a representative of the entire community.

sacred oil
  See Exodus 29:7, 30:30. Cf. Leviticus 4:3, 21:10.

not an act of murder
  Literally, 'there is no blood (liability).'





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