March 9, Numbers 35-36

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35 The Lord again spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho: “Command the Israelites to give cities out of their hereditary property for the Levites to live in and pastureland around the cities. The cities will be for them to live in, and their pasturelands will be for their herds, flocks, and all their other animals. The pasturelands of the cities you are to give the Levites will extend from the city wall five hundred yards[a]on every side. Measure a thousand yards[b]outside the city for the east side, a thousand yards for the south side, a thousand yards for the west side, and a thousand yards for the north side, with the city in the center. This will belong to them as pasturelands for the cities.“The cities you give the Levites will include six cities of refuge, which you will provide so that the one who kills someone may flee there; in addition to these, give forty-two other cities.The total number of cities you give the Levites will be forty-eight, along with their pasturelands. Of the cities that you give from the Israelites’ territory, you should take more from a larger tribe and less from a smaller one.Each tribe is to give some of its cities to the Levites in proportion to the inheritance it receives.”

Cities of Refuge

The Lord said to Moses, 10 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 11 designate cities to serve as cities of refuge for you, so that a person who kills someone unintentionally may flee there. 12 You will have the cities as a refuge from the avenger, so that the one who kills someone will not die until he stands trial before the assembly. 13 The cities you select will be your six cities of refuge. 14 Select three cities across the Jordan and three cities in the land of Canaan to be cities of refuge. 15 These six cities will serve as a refuge for the Israelites and for the alien or temporary resident among them, so that anyone who kills a person unintentionally may flee there.16 “If anyone strikes a person with an iron object and death results, he is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death. 17 If anyone has in his hand a stone capable of causing death and strikes another person and he dies, the murderer must be put to death. 18 If anyone has in his hand a wooden object capable of causing death and strikes another person and he dies, the murderer must be put to death. 19 The avenger of blood himself is to kill the murderer; when he finds him, he is to kill him.20 Likewise, if anyone in hatred pushes a person or throws an object at him with malicious intent and he dies, 21 or if in hostility he strikes him with his hand and he dies, the one who struck him must be put to death; he is a murderer. The avenger of blood is to kill the murderer when he finds him.22 “But if anyone suddenly pushes a person without hostility or throws any object at him without malicious intent 23 or without looking drops a stone that could kill a person and he dies, but he was not his enemy and didn’t intend to harm him, 24 the assembly is to judge between the person who kills someone and the avenger of blood according to these ordinances. 25 The assembly is to protect the one who kills someone from the avenger of blood. Then the assembly will return him to the city of refuge he fled to, and he must live there until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil.26 “If the one who kills someone ever goes outside the border of the city of refuge he fled to, 27 and the avenger of blood finds him outside the border of his city of refuge and kills him, the avenger will not be guilty of bloodshed, 28 for the one who killed a person was supposed to live in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest. Only after the death of the high priest may the one who has killed a person return to the land he possesses. 29 These instructions will be a statutory ordinance for you throughout your generations wherever you live.30 “If anyone kills a person, the murderer is to be put to death based on the word of witnesses. But no one is to be put to death based on the testimony of one witness. 31 You are not to accept a ransom for the life of someone who is guilty of murder; he must be put to death. 32 Neither should you accept a ransom for the person who flees to his city of refuge, allowing him to return and live in the land before the death of the high priest.33 “Do not defile the land where you live, for bloodshed defiles the land, and there can be no atonement for the land because of the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of the person who shed it. 34 Do not make the land unclean where you live and where I dwell; for I, the Lord, reside among the Israelites.”36 The family heads from the clan of the descendants of Gilead—the son of Machir, son of Manasseh—who were from the clans of the sons of Joseph, approached and addressed Moses and the leaders who were heads of the Israelite families. They said, “The Lordcommanded my lord to give the land as an inheritance by lot to the Israelites. My lord was further commanded by the Lord to give our brother Zelophehad’s inheritance to his daughters. If they marry any of the men from the other Israelite tribes, their inheritance will be taken away from our fathers’ inheritance and added to that of the tribe into which they marry. Therefore, part of our allotted inheritance would be taken away. When the Jubilee comes for the Israelites, their inheritance will be added to that of the tribe into which they marry, and their inheritance will be taken away from the inheritance of our ancestral tribe.”So Moses commanded the Israelites at the word of the Lord, “What the tribe of Joseph’s descendants says is right. This is what the Lord has commanded concerning Zelophehad’s daughters: They may marry anyone they like provided they marry within a clan of their ancestral tribe. No inheritance belonging to the Israelites is to transfer from tribe to tribe, because each of the Israelites is to retain the inheritance of his ancestral tribe.Any daughter who possesses an inheritance from an Israelite tribe must marry someone from the clan of her ancestral tribe, so that each of the Israelites will possess the inheritance of his fathers. No inheritance is to transfer from one tribe to another, because each of the Israelite tribes is to retain its inheritance.”10 The daughters of Zelophehad did as the Lord commanded Moses. 11 Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, married cousins on their father’s side. 12 They married men from the clans of the descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained within the tribe of their father’s clan.13 These are the commands and ordinances the Lord commanded the Israelites through Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho.

We find some interesting rules about refuge cities and how men who kill other men are to be treated. As with everything, motive means a lot. If you have good motives and make a mistake it has different consequences than having wrong motives and doing something wrong. 

What motives do you have?  Are your motives to worship God?  Are your motives to follow his commands?  The desires of your heart and the motivations therein will show you how devoted you are to following Jesus. 

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