Numbers 35:19
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
The avenger of blood shall himself put the murderer to death; when he meets him, he shall put him to death.

King James Bible
The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him.

American Standard Version
The avenger of blood shall himself put the murderer to death: when he meeteth him, he shall put him to death.

Douay-Rheims Bible
The kinsman of him that was slain, shall kill the murderer: as soon as he apprehendeth him, he shall kill him.

English Revised Version
The avenger of blood shall himself put the manslayer to death: when he meeteth him, he shall put him to death.

Webster's Bible Translation
The avenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him.

Numbers 35:19 Parallel
Commentary
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

These towns were to serve for a refuge from the avenger of blood, that the manslayer might not die before he had taken his trial in the presence of the congregation. The number of cities was fixed at six, three on the other side of the Jordan, and three on this side in the land of Canaan, to which both the children of Israel, and also the foreigners and settlers who were dwelling among them, might flee. In Deuteronomy 19:2., Moses advises the congregation to prepare (הכין) the way to these cities, and to divide the territory of the land which Jehovah would give them into three parts (שׁלּשׁ), i.e., to set apart a free city in every third of the land, that every manslayer might flee thither, i.e., might be able to reach the free city without being detained by length of distance or badness of road, lest, as is added in Deuteronomy 19:6, the avenger of blood pursue the slayer while his heart is hot (יחם, imperf. Kal of חמם), and overtake him because the way is long, and slay him (נפשׁ הכּה, as in Genesis 37:21), whereas he was not worthy of death (i.e., there was no just ground for putting him to death), "because he had not done it out of hatred." The three cities of refuge on the other side were selected by Moses himself (Deuteronomy 4:41-43); the three in Canaan were not appointed till the land was distributed among the nine tribes and a half (Joshua 20:7). Levitical or priests' towns were selected for all six, not only because it was to the priests and Levites that they would first of all look for an administration of justice (Schultz on Deuteronomy 19:3), but also on the ground that these cities were the property of Jehovah, in a higher sense than the rest of the land, and for this reason answered the idea of cities of refuge, where the manslayer, when once received, was placed under the protection of divine grace, better than any other places possibly could.

The establishment of cities of refuge presupposed the custom and right of revenge. The custom itself goes back to the very earliest times of the human race (Genesis 4:15, Genesis 4:24; Genesis 27:45); it prevailed among the Israelites, as well as the other nations of antiquity, and still continues among the Arabs in unlimited force (cf. Niebuhr, Arab. pp. 32ff.; Burckhardt, Beduinen, 119, 251ff.). "Revenge of blood prevailed almost everywhere, so long as there was no national life generated, or it was still in the first stages of its development; and consequently the expiation of any personal violation of justice was left to private revenge, and more especially to family zeal" (Oehler in Herzog's B. Cycl., where the proofs may be seen). The warrant for this was the principle of retribution, the jus talionis, which lay at the foundation of the divine order of the world in general, and the Mosaic law in particular, and which was sanctioned by God, so far as murder was concerned, even in the time of Noah, by the command, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood," etc. (Genesis 9:5-6). This warrant, however, or rather obligation to avenge murder, was subordinated to the essential principle of the theocracy, under the Mosaic law. Whilst God Himself would avenge the blood that was shed, not only upon men, but upon animals also (Genesis 9:5), and commanded blood-revenge, He withdrew the execution of it from subjective caprice, and restricted it to cases of premeditated slaying or murder, by appointing cities of refuge, which were to protect the manslayer from the avenger, until he took his trial before the congregation. גּאל, redeemer, is "that particular relative whose special duty it was to restore the violated family integrity, who had to redeem not only landed property that had been alienated from the family (Leviticus 25:25.), or a member of the family that had fallen into slavery (Leviticus 25:47.), but also the blood that had been taken away from the family by murder" (Oehler). In the latter respect he was called הדּם גּאל, (Numbers 35:19, Numbers 35:21, Numbers 35:24.; Deuteronomy 19:6, Deuteronomy 19:12). From 2 Samuel 14:7, we may see that it was the duty of the whole family to take care that blood-revenge was carried out. The performance of the duty itself, however, was probably regulated by the closeness of the relationship, and corresponded to the duty of redeeming from bondage (Leviticus 25:49), and to the right of inheritance (Numbers 27:8.). What standing before the congregation was to consist of, is defined more fully in what follows (Numbers 35:24, Numbers 35:25). If we compare with this Joshua 20:4., the manslayer, who fled from the avenger of blood into a free city, was to stand before the gates of the city, and state his cause before the elders. They were then to receive him into the city, and give him a place that he might dwell among them, and were not to deliver him up to the avenger of blood till he had stood before the congregation for judgment. Consequently, if the slayer of a man presented himself with the request to be received, the elders of the free city had to make a provisional inquiry into his case, to decide whether they should grant him protection in the city; and then if the avenger of blood appeared, they were not to deliver up the person whom they had received, but to hand him over, on the charge of the avenger of blood, to the congregation to whom he belonged, or among whom the act had taken place, that they might investigate the case, and judge whether the deed itself was wilful or accidental.

Numbers 35:19 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Numbers 35:12,21,24,27 And they shall be to you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not...

Deuteronomy 19:6,12 Lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and slay him...

Joshua 20:3,5 That the slayer that kills any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood...

Cross References
Genesis 4:14
Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me."

Numbers 35:18
Or if he struck him down with a wooden tool that could cause death, and he died, he is a murderer. The murderer shall be put to death.

Numbers 35:20
And if he pushed him out of hatred or hurled something at him, lying in wait, so that he died,

2 Samuel 14:7
And now the whole clan has risen against your servant, and they say, 'Give up the man who struck his brother, that we may put him to death for the life of his brother whom he killed.' And so they would destroy the heir also. Thus they would quench my coal that is left and leave to my husband neither name nor remnant on the face of the earth."

2 Samuel 14:11
Then she said, "Please let the king invoke the LORD your God, that the avenger of blood kill no more, and my son be not destroyed." He said, "As the LORD lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground."

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