This chapter is speaking about the cities of refuge.  Refer to Numbers 35 for more information.


I.   Verse 1-3 - Establishing the cities of refuge.

A.     Verse 1,2 - The cities will be established after Israel completely inhabits the promised land.

1.       Moses had already established three cities on the east of Jordan, and Joshua is commanded to add three more cities on the west of Jordan when Israel fully conquers the land.

2.       Numbers 35:14 - Three cities shall be on the east of Jordan.  See Joshua 20:7.

a.      Kedesh in Naphtalim, in the northern section.

b.      Shechem in Ephraim, in the middle section.

c.      Hebron in Judah, in the southern section.

3.       Numbers 35:15 - Three cities shall be on the west of Jordan.  See Joshua 20:8.

a.      Golan in Manasseh, in the northern section.

b.      Ramoth-Gilead in Gad, in the middle section.

c.      Bezer in Reuben, in the southern section.

4.       The purpose of locating the cities of refuge is so the man slayer will have ample opportunity to flee to the nearest city.  See verse 6,7.

B.     Verse 3 - Israel shall build a "way", or road from Israel toward the cities of refuge.

1.       The Jews report that every leader of Israel would send out men to check on the repair of the road that ran through their land.  Any repairs that were necessary were speedily done.

2.       The Jews report that at every intercession of roads, there was a large sign with an arrow pointing toward the city of refuge.  The sign would say, "Miklat, Miklat", or "Refuge, Refuge".

3.       Every person in Israel would be well aware of the city of refuge nearest to them, so they would have ample opportunity to flee to it in case they needed to.


II.   Verse 4-10 - The case of the man slayer.

A.     Verse 4 - the city of refuge is only for accidental man slayers.

B.     Verse 5 - An example.

1.       If an ax head comes off and strikes a man, killing him.

2.       Or any other such accident.

C.     The slayer shall flee to the nearest city and get safe inside before the avenger of blood catches him.

1.       This will keep innocent blood from being shed.

2.       The way I understand this is that the avenger will go free if he catches the slayer before he gets into the city of refuge.  This is the reason the cities of refuge are placed so as to be available to everyone.



III.   Verse 11-13 - The case of the murderer.

A.     Verse 11 - It is apparent that some murderers will claim it was an accident.

1.       The way to tell a murder from an accident is hate or the absence of hate.

2.       The elders of his city will decide the case, judging mostly from the feelings of the past.

B.     The instructions for the death of the murderer.

1.       Do not pity him, or listen to his, or his family's, sad stories.

2.       We would do well to listen to the sad stories of the victims.

3.       The only way to remove the guilt of innocent blood from the land is to take the life of the guilty.


IV.   Verse 14 - The ancient landmark.

A.     This verse is inserted here because many disputes arise over land boundaries.

1.       God has set the original land boundaries, therefore, no man ought to remove them.

2.       God has set the original spiritual boundaries, therefore, no man ought to remove them.

B.     It may sound old-fashioned and silly, but if we will stand by and keep those old fashioned doctrines and principles of God's Word, we will find much satisfaction, and few problems.


V.   Verse 15-21 - The witnesses to a sin. 

A.     Verse 15 - One witness shall not say anything.

1.       A person shall not be judged by what one person says, for that one person might be prejudiced.

2.       Only at the mouth of two or three witnesses shall a person be condemned.

B.     Verse 16-19 - The judgment of false witnesses.

1.       Verse 17 - False witness shall stand before the [1]Lord[1], the priest and judges of that day.

2.       Verse 19 - If they are guilty, they shall receive the punishment they had hoped to put on the innocent.

3.       An example is Daniel in the Lion's Den.  His false witnesses were cast into the Lion's Den and destroyed while Daniel went free.

C.     The desired effect on Israel.

1.       When Israel sees that the wicked are punished, they will be more apt to live right.

2.       Verse 21 - The punishment upon evil people shall not cause the righteous to pity them.