Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cities of Refuge; Manslaughter vs. Murder

Today's Reading:
  • Numbers 33:40 - 35:34
  • Proverbs 11:23
Read Bible Passages Online

Numbers 33:40 - 35:34
The Israelites made camp across from Jericho.  The Lord spoke to Moses, detailing how the land should be divided.  Each tribe, with the exception of the Levites, would be given a piece of land proportional to the amount of people in the tribe.  The largest tribes were given the most land and the smallest tribes were given the least amount of land.  The Levites were to be given 48 towns with pastures to live in and raise their livestock. 

Six of these towns were designed to be cities of refuge.  If someone were to accidentally kill another human being, they could flee to one of those towns and await trial.  Inside a town of refuge, a person was safe from blood vengeance if they had accidentally killed another person.  Should that person leave the town of refuge before the high priest died, they would not be subject to protection from the victim's relatives.  If they lived in the town until the high priest died, they would be allowed to return to their own property without fear of retaliation. 

The Lord makes a big distinction here between manslaughter and murder.  Manslaughter is the accidental killing of another person.  Manslaughter could only occur between people who were not enemies, and the actions could not be deliberate.  If two people were enemies, or a person deliberately struck them -- be it with a weapon or their own fist -- and that person died, then they are guilty of murder.

Chapter 35 states multiple times that a person must be put to death if they have murdered another person.  The exception here is that there must be more than one witness for this person to be put to death (35:30).  I love how this verse takes into account the deceitful, sometimes evil nature of humans.  Or, even if a person is not intentionally lying about what they saw, they could still be mistaken. 

The thing that I gain the most out of this chapter is that the Lord is telling us that human life is to be cherished.  To deliberately end another human being's life can only be redeemed by the murder of the person who did it.  Chapter 35 also tells us that no ransom is ever to be accepted for the life of another human being.  Even those people we deem least worthy of living are cherished.  Life, human life, is truly sacred.  I plan to make the most of this human life of mine that the Lord so cherishes.

Proverbs 11:23
The godly can look forward to a reward, while the wicked can expect only judgement.
I don't have much to add to this promise, except that I will always strive to be the godly and not the wicked.

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