Joshua 20:7
And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali, and Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Joshua 20:7. And they appointed — Concerning these cities, note, 1st, That they were all upon mountains, that they might be seen at a great distance, and so direct those who fled thither. 2d, That they were seated at a convenient distance one from another, for the benefit of the several tribes; for Kedesh was in the north, Hebron in the south, and Shechem between them. 3d, That they all belonged to the Levites; partly, that these causes might be more impartially examined and justly determined by them, who were presumed best able to understand the law of God, and most obliged to follow it, and not to be biased by any affection or corrupt interest; and partly, that their reputation with the people, and their good counsels, might lay a restraint upon revengeful persons, who might be inclined to follow the manslayer thither, and endeavour to kill him there. It was likewise an advantage to the poor refugee, that when he might not go up to the house of the Lord, yet he had the servants of God’s house with him, to instruct him, and pray for him, and help to make up the want of public ordinances.20:7-9 These cities, as those also on the other side Jordan, stood so that a man might in half a day reach one of them from any part of the country. God is ever a Refuge at hand. They were all Levites' cities. It was kindness to the poor fugitive, that when he might not go up to the house of the Lord, yet he had the servants of God with him, to instruct him, and pray for him, and to help to make up the want of public ordinances. Some observe a significance in the names of these cities with application to Christ our Refuge. Kedesh signifies holy, and our Refuge is the holy Jesus. Shechem, a shoulder, and the government is upon his shoulder. Hebron, fellowship, and believers are called into the fellowship of Christ Jesus our Lord. Bezer, a fortification, for he is a strong hold to all those that trust in him. Ramoth, high or exalted, for Him hath God exalted with his own right hand. Golan, joy or exultation, for in Him all the saints are justified, and shall glory.As soon as the manslayer presented himself at the city of refuge, the elders of the city were to hold an inquiry, and receive him provisionally into the city. Afterward, when the avenger of blood should have tracked his victim to the city, and appear to claim him, a more formal and thorough investigation Joshua 20:6 was to be made. Consult the marginal references. Jos 20:7-9. The Israelites Appoint by Name the Cities of Refuge.

7-9. they appointed … cities—There were six; three on the west, and three on the east, of Jordan. In the first instance, they were a provision of the criminal law of the Hebrews, necessary in the circumstances of that people (see on [201]Nu 35:11; [202]De 19:2). At the same time they were designed also typically to point out the sinner's way to Christ (Heb 6:18).

Concerning these cities, note,

1. That they were all upon mountains, that they might be seen at a great distance, and so direct those who fled thither.

2. That they were seated at convenient distance one from another, for the benefit of the several tribes; for Kedesh was in the north, Hebron in the south, and Shechem between them.

3. That they all belonged to the Levites; partly that these causes might be more impartially examined and justly determined by them, who are presumed best able to understand the law of God, and most obliged and likely to follow it in their judgment, and not to be biassed by any affection or corrupt interest; and partly that their just reputation with the people, and their good counsels, might lay some restraint upon revengeful persons, who might be inclined or tempted to follow the man-slayer thither, and endeavour to kill him there. And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in Mount Naphtali,.... Of which see Joshua 19:37; the appointment of this and the two cities following was made by the children of Israel at this time:

and Shechem in Mount Ephraim; called Sichem, Genesis 12:6; and Shechem from a prince of that name that possessed it, Genesis 34:2; it fell to the lot of the tribe of Ephraim; its name in the New Testament is Sychar, John 4:5; and it is now called Neapolis, or Naplouse:

and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah; it stood in the hill country of Judea, Luke 1:39; of which see Joshua 14:15. There seems to be a difficulty here, since this city was before given to Caleb, Joshua 14:13; and yet afterwards given to the Levites, and appointed a city of refuge. The Jews reconcile this by observing, that the city and suburbs were given to the Levites, and fixed for a city of refuge; but the villages and fields, and country around it, and belonging to it, were given to Caleb, Joshua 21:12; and Abarbinel makes no doubt that the children of Judah gave something else to Caleb in lieu of it. As these cities of refuge were typical of Christ, as has been observed on Numbers 35:29; their names are applicable to him. "Kedesh" signifies "holy" or "holiness"; Christ is holy in both his natures, divine and human; and so abundantly qualified to be the Mediator, Saviour, and Redeemer; and is the fountain of holiness to his people, and is made sanctification to them, Psalm 16:10 1 Corinthians 1:30; and "Shechem" signifies the "shoulder"; and not only the government of the church and people of God is on the shoulder of Christ, but all their sins have been laid upon him, and bore by him; and every particular soul in conversion, every lost sheep, is looked up by him, and taken up and brought home on his shoulder, Isaiah 9:6 Luke 15:4. "Hebron" signifies "fellowship"; in the effectual calling, the saints are called into fellowship with Christ, and their fellowship is with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ; through him they have access to God, and communion with him now, and shall have uninterrupted communion with him to all eternity, 1 Corinthians 1:9 John 17:24.

And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali, and Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7–9. The Selection of the Cities of Refuge

7. And they appointed] Rather, they sanctified, set apart for a sacred purpose. The Cities of Refuge were intended to preserve the People and the Land of Jehovah from blood-guiltiness. Hence the appointment to so high a purpose carried with it also the idea of solemn consecration. “They seuerden,” Wyclif translates it in the first edition, “thei ordeyneden” in the later edition. The cities selected were three on either side of the Jordan, almost equally remote from each other,

(a) On the West.

  (b) On the East.

1. Kedesh, in Naphtali.

  1. Golan, in Bashan.

2. Shechem, in Mount Ephraim.

  2. Ramoth-Gilead, in Gad.

3. Hebron, in Judah.

  3. Bezer, in Reuben.

It requires only to look at the map to see how wisely these spots were marked out, so as to make a “City of Refuge” easy of access from all parts of the land. They were chosen, it will be observed, out of the priestly and Levitical cities, as likely to be inhabited by the most intelligent part of the community. According to Maimonides, all the forty-eight Levitical cities (enumerated in the next Chapter) had the privilege of asylum, but these six cities were required to receive and lodge the homicide gratuitously.

Kedesh] was the most northerly city on the West. See above, Joshua 12:22.

in Galilee] In that part of the province afterwards called “Galilee.” This name which in the Roman age was applied to a large province, seems to have been originally confined to a little “circuit” or “region—Galil, Galilah, Galilæa—round Kedesh-Naphtali, in which were situated the twenty towns given by Solomon to Hiram, king of Tyre, as payment for the transportation of timber from Lebanon to Jerusalem (1 Kings 9:11).

Shechem] was the central city on the west of the Jordan; see above, ch. Joshua 8:30; and ch. Joshua 17:7; in Mount Ephraim. See above, ch. Joshua 17:15.

Kirjath-arba, which is Hebron] The most southerly of the selected cities on the west; see above, ch. Joshua 10:3, Joshua 14:15.

in the mountain of Judah] On this mountain-district, see above, ch. Joshua 11:21.Verse 7. - And they appointed. The original, which, strange to say, the LXX. and Vulgate, as well as our version, have neglected to render, is sanctified (heiligten, Luther). The selection is itself a proof that our author knew well what he was writing about. It is not likely that in the later times of Jewish history, when the law had been forgotten (2 Kings 22:8) and its precepts had long been in abeyance, that the institution of the city of refuge remained in full force. But we find three cities selected on each side of Jordan. Those on the west were in the tribe of Naphtali on the north, of Ephraim in the centre, and of Judah in the south. The same is the case with those on the other side Jordan. Thus every little detail of the narrative, when closely scrutinised, does but show more entirely how free this narrative is from the reproach so hastily cast upon it of being a loose and inaccurate compilation, attempted by a man who had not the slightest literary fitness for the task he had undertaken. A corroboration of this view may be found in the fact that all these cities were Levitical cities. Thus, as the crime of homicide was looked upon under the Mosaic law as a crime apart from all other crimes, inasmuch as it was an offence against the life which was God's gift, and man, who was God's image, so the offender who pleaded extenuating circumstances for his offence was placed, until his trial could be held, under the special protection of the Divine law. For "the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and men should seek the law at his mouth." It was the special privilege of the tribe of Levi to possess the "key of knowledge." It was to them that the duty of ascertaining the wilt of God by Urim and Thummim was assigned (Numbers 27:21). Thus a special acquaintance with the law (Deuteronomy 33:8), and a special fitness for deciding the difficult questions sometimes arising out of it, would naturally be found in the elders of those cities which had been set apart as cities of refuge. In Galilee. Hebrew, Hag-Galil, the circle. Here we have the masculine, as in Joshua 13:2; 17:17; 22:10, 11, the feminine form. This is the first place in Scripture in which the word Galil, or Galilee, is applied to this region. Gesenius regards it as having been originally a district of twenty towns round Kedesh in Naphtali. Such a region of twenty towns is mentioned in 1 Kings 9:11 (see also Isaiah 8:23; or, Isaiah 9:1 in our version). Kedesh has already been noticed (see also Joshua 21:32). After the distribution of the land by lot among the tribes of Israel, six towns were set apart, in accordance with the Mosaic instructions in Numbers 35, as places of refuge for unintentional manslayers. Before describing the appointment and setting apart of these towns, the writer repeats in Joshua 20:1-6 the main points of the Mosaic law contained in Numbers 35:9-29 and Deuteronomy 19:1-13, with reference to the reception of the manslayers into these towns. לכם תּנוּ, "give to you," i.e., appoint for yourselves, "cities of refuge," etc. In Joshua 20:6, the two regulations, "until he stand before the congregation for judgment," and "until the death of the high priest," are to be understood, in accordance with the clear explanation given in Numbers 35:24-25, as meaning that the manslayer was to live in the town till the congregation had pronounced judgment upon the matter, and either given him up to the avenger of blood as a wilful murderer, or taken him back to the city of refuge as an unintentional manslayer, in which case he was to remain there till the death of the existing high priest. For further particulars, see at Numbers 35.
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