Cities of Refuge — Asylum — Sanctuary


On July 28, 2013 3:30 PM, "Stephen Williamson" wrote:


Subject: Sanctuaries and Asylum

Hi all

After watching Leonardo DiCaprio’s Inception last night, I’ve just spent the morning studying the six cities of refuge.

Starting in 1465BC after Joshua crossed the Jordan, a city of refuge was the city that you could flee to from the avenger of blood when you were responsible for someone’s death wrongfully, but it was unpremeditated, you hadn’t meant to.

The word for “refuge” or “miqlat” comes from the Hebrew word qalat – it referred to an animal, maimed, lacking parts, lacking wholeness, lacking honour.

Surely reminds us of Jesus’s words, I came to call the maimed, the sick, those who are “unwhole”.

So this “unwhole” person was allowed to flee to one of these six cities, either Hebron in the south (where Aaron’s descendants lived), Shechem in Ephraim or Kedesh in Galilee, or, on the east side of the Jordan, there was Golan in the north, or Ramoth or Bosor further south in Gilead (part of modern day Jordan).

All of these cities (literally “fortified” places) were where the Levites, the servants of the priests lived. They were “holy” cities. And so the unwhole person, doubtless feeling guilt for their actions, could live there, in touch with these “holy” people.

Then, in God’s time, when the High Priest died, his blood was viewed as payment for the blood that had been spilt, the person was then free to leave if they wished to. A real message fulfilled in Christ.

According to an article I read in Wikipedia, ladies, or more specifically one lady, e.g. the high priest’s mother, would bring you food so you didn’t starve. Or perhaps seek the death of her son

In other cultures worldwide, many then copied this procedure, their temples, their holy places, becoming places of “asylum”.

Asylum is in fact a Greek word, a legal word in relation to property or persons, meaning “not to be seized” (in payment or in reprisal).

Thus it developed the meaning of being a sanctuary, a safe, a secure place. A pretty good picture of God’s church :-)

Blessings Steve

PS. Here’s the Wikipedia article, for those interested. of Refuge

And here are the references to the Scriptures below.

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1 Numbers 35:6

And among the cities which you shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge, which you shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee there: and to them you shall add forty two cities.

2 Numbers 35:11

Then you shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee there, which kills any person unawares.

3 Numbers 35:12

And they shall be to you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment.

4 Numbers 35:13

And of these cities which you shall give six cities shall you have for refuge.

5 Numbers 35:14

You shall give three cities on this side Jordan, and three cities shall you give in the land of Canaan, which shall be cities of refuge.

6 Numbers 35:15

These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that kills any person unawares may flee there.

7 Joshua 20:2

Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spoke to you by the hand of Moses:

8 Joshua 21:27

And to the children of Gershon, of the families of the Levites, out of the other half tribe of Manasseh they gave Golan in Bashan with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Beeshterah with her suburbs; two cities.

9 Joshua 21:32

And out of the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Galilee with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Hammothdor with her suburbs, and Kartan with her suburbs; three cities.

10 1 Chronicles 6:57

And to the sons of Aaron they gave the cities of Judah, namely, Hebron, the city of refuge, and Libnah with her suburbs, and Jattir, and Eshtemoa, with their suburbs,

11 1 Chronicles 6:67

And they gave to them, of the cities of refuge, Shechem in mount Ephraim with her suburbs; they gave also Gezer with her suburbs,

Stephen Williamson Computing Services Pty Ltd