Numbers 35






1 “And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near

Jericho, saying, 2 Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the

Levites of the inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in;” -    This

legislation forms the natural sequel and complement of the Divine decrees already

promulgated concerning the Levites. Separated from the rest of the tribes from the

time of the first census (ch.1:49), excluded from any tribal inheritance (ch.18:20), but

endowed with tithes and offerings for their maintenance (Ibid. v.21), it was also

necessary that they should be provided with homes for themselves and their cattle.

They might indeed have been left to exist as they could, and where they could, upon

the provision made for them in the law. But, on the one hand, that provision was

itself precarious, depending as it did upon the piety and good feeling of the people

(which must often have been found wanting: compare Nehemiah 13:10; Malachi 3:8-9);

and, on the other, it is evident that the Levites were intended, as far as their family and

social life was concerned, to share the ordinary comforts and enjoyments of Israelites.

Nothing could have been more foreign to the Mosaic ideal than a ministry celibate,

ascetic, and detached from this world’s wealth, such as readily enough sprang up

(whether intended or not) under the teaching of the gospel (Luke 10:4; 12:33;

Acts 20:34-35; I Corinthians 7:7, 25-26; 9:18, 27; II Corinthians 6:10; II Timothy

2:4) - “and ye shall give also unto the Levites suburbs” - The Hebrew word

vr;g]mi undoubtedly means here a pasture, or a paddock, an enclosed place outside

the town into which the cattle were driven by day to feed. It is possible that the

Authorized Version  may have used the word “suburbs’’ in that sense. To keep

cattle to some extent was not only a universal custom, but was well-nigh a necessity

of life in that age - “for the cities round about them.”


3 “And the cities shall they have to dwell in; and the suburbs of them

shall be for their cattle,” -  μT;m]h,b]li, “for their great cattle,” i.e., oxen,

camels, and any other beasts of draught or burden -“and for their goods,” - 

“For their possessions,” which in this connection would mean their ordinary

livestock,” chiefly sheep and goats; the word itself (μv;Wkr]li) is indeterminate –

and for all their beasts.” - μt;Y;j"AlkOl] an expression which apparently only

sums up what has previously been mentioned.


4 “And the suburbs of the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites, shall

reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits round about.”

5 “And ye shall measure from without the city” -   (ry[il; xWjmi e]xw

th~v po>lewv exo taes poleosoutside the city) - “on the east side two

thousand cubits, and on the south side two thousand cubits, and on

the west side two thousand cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits;” –

These directions are very obscure.  Some have held that the country for 1000 cubits

beyond the walls was reserved for pasture (according to v. 4), and for another 1000

cubits for fields and vineyards, so that the Levitical lands extended 2000 cubits in all

directions. This is reasonable in itself, since 2000 cubits is only half a mile, and rather

more than a square mile of land would not seem too much for pastures, gardens, etc.,

for a town with at least 1000 inhabitants. The smallest tribe territories seem to have

comprised some 300 square miles of country; and if we take the Levitical towns as

averaging 1000 cubits square, their forty-eight cities would only give them seventy-three

square miles of territory. There is, however, no notice of anything being given to

the Levites except their “suburbs,” so that this explanation must be at best

very doubtful. Others have argued for a plan according to which each outer

boundary, drawn at 1000 cubits’ distance from the wall, would measure

2000 cubits, plus the length of the town wall; but this is far too artificial,

and could only be considered possible as long as it was confined to a paper

sketch, for it presupposes that each city lay four-square, and faced the four

points of the compass. If the first explanation be untenable, the only

alternative sufficiently simple and natural is to suppose that, in order to

avoid irregularities of measurement, each outer boundary was to be drawn

at an approximate distance of 1000 cubits from the wall, and each of an

approximate length of 2000 cubits; at the angles the lines would have to be

joined as best they might. In Leviticus 25:32-34 certain regulations are

inserted in favor of the Levites. Their houses might be redeemed at any

time, and not only within the full year allowed to others; moreover, they

returned to them (contrary to the general rule) at the year of Jubilee. Their

property in the “suburbs” they could not sell at all, for it was inalienable. It

is difficult to believe that these regulations were really made at Mount

Sinai, presupposing, as they do, the legislation of this chapter; but if they

were actually made at this time, on the eve of the conquest, it is easy to see

why they were subsequently inserted in the chapter which deals generally

with the powers of sale and redemption -“and the city shall be in the midst:

this shall be to them the suburbs of the cities.” 


6 “And among the cities” -  Rather, “and the cities.” μyr[;h, ta,w]

kai< ta<v po>leivkai tas poleis – the cities which - The construction is broken,

or rather is continuous throughout vs. 6-8, the accusative being repeated - “which ye

shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge,” -  See below on

v. 11 - “which ye shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee thither: and

to them ye shall add forty and two cities.”


7 “So all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites shall be forty and

eight cities:” -  The Levites numbered nearly 50,000 souls (see on ch. 26:62), so

that each Levitical city would have an average population of about 1000 to start with.

There seems no sufficient reason for supposing that they shared their towns with men

of the surrounding tribe. Even if the provision made for their habitation was excessive

at first (which does not appear), yet their rate of increase should have been

exceptionally high, inasmuch as they were not liable to military service. It is possible

that mystical reasons led to the selection of the number forty-eight (12 x 4, both typical

of universality), but it is at least equally probable that it was determined by the actual

numbers of the tribe - “them shall ye give with their suburbs.”


8 “And the cities which ye shall give shall be of the possession of the children

of Israel: from them that have many ye shall give many; but from them that

have few ye shall give few: every one shall give of his cities unto the Levites

according to his inheritance which he inheriteth.”  And the cities which ye shall

give shall be, - Rather, “And as to the cities which ye shall give from the possession

of the children of Israel, from the many ye shall multiply, and from the few ye shall

decrease.” What seems to be a general rule of proportionate giving is laid

down here, but it was not carried out, and it is not easy to see how it could

have been. From the large combined territory of Judah and Simeon nine

cities were indeed surrendered (Joshua 21), but all the rest, great and small,

gave up four apiece, except Naphtali, which gave up three only. As the

territory of Naphtali was apparently large in proportion to its numbers, this

was probably for no other reason than that the tribe stood last on the list.

Every one. Hebrew, vyai. It was in fact each tribe that surrendered so

many cities, but since the tribal inheritance was the joint property of all the

tribesmen, every man felt that he was a party to the gift. No doubt it was

the Divine intention to foster in the tribes as far as possible this local

feeling of interest and property in the Levites who dwelt among them

(compare the expression “their scribes and Pharisees” in Luke 5:30).

The dispersion of the Levites (however mysteriously connected with the

prophecy of Genesis 49:5-7) was obviously designed to form a bond of

unity for all Israel by diffusing the knowledge and love of the national

religion, and by keeping up a constant communication between the future

capital and all the provinces. According to the Divine ideal Israel as a

whole was hJ ejklogh> - hae eklogae - the election - from all the earth, the Levites

were the ejklogh> of Israel, and the priests the ejklogh> of Levi. The priestly

family was at present too small to be influential, but the Levites were numerous

enough to have leavened the whole nation if they had walked worthy of their

calling. They were gathered together in towns of their own, partly no doubt in

order to avoid disputes, but partly that they might have a better opportunity of

setting forth the true ideal of what Jewish life should be.


9 “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  10 Speak unto the children

of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land

of Canaan;  11 Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you;”

 God had already announced that He would appoint a place whither one guilty of

unpremeditated manslaughter might flee for safety (Exodus 21:13). The expression

there used does not point to more than one “place,” but it is not inconsistent with

several. Probably the right of sanctuary has been recognized from the earliest times

in which any local appropriation of places to sacred purposes has been made. It is

an instinct of religion to look upon one who has escaped into a sacred enclosure as

being under the personal protection of the presiding deity. It is certain that the right

was largely recognized in Egypt, where the priestly caste was so powerful and

ambitious; and this is no doubt the reason (humanly speaking) for the promise in

(Ibid.), and for the command in the following verse.  Inasmuch as the whole of

Canaan was the Lord’s, any places within it might he endowed with rights of sanctuary,

but it was obviously suitable that they should be Levitical cities; the Divine prerogative

of mercy could nowhere be better exercised, nor would any citizens be better qualified

to pronounce and to uphold the rightful decision in each case - “that the slayer may

flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares.”


12 “And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger;” -  Hebrew,

laegO. Septuagint, apo ajgcisteuontov to< ai=ma apo agchisteuontos to aima -  

from the avenger of blood.  In all other passages (twelve in number) where the word

occurs in this sense it is qualified by the addition “of blood.” Standing by itself, it

is everywhere else translated “kinsman,” or (more properly) “redeemer,”

and is constantly applied in that sense to GOD OUR SAVIOUR (Job 19:25;

Isaiah 63:16). The two ideas, however, which seem to us so distinct, and even

so opposed, are in their origin one. To the men of the primitive age, when public

justice was not, and when might was right, the only protector was one who could

and would avenge them of their wrongs, and by avenging prevent their repetition.

This champion of the injured individual, or rather family, — for rights and wrongs

were thought of as belonging to families rather than to individuals, was their goel,

who had their peace, their safety, above all, their honor, in his charge. For no

sentiments spring up quicker, and none exercise a more tyrannous sway, than the

sentiment of honor, which in its various and often strangely distorted forms has

always perhaps outweighed all other considerations in the minds of men. Now the

earliest form in which the sentiment of honor asserted itself was in the blood-feud.

If one member of a family was slain, an intolerable shame and sense of contumely

rested upon the family until blood had been avenged by blood, until “satisfaction”

had been done by the death of the manslayer. He who freed the family from this

intolerable pain and humiliation — who enabled it to hold up its head, and to

breathe freely once more — was the goel; and in the natural order of things he

was the nearest “kinsman” of the slain who could and would take the duty upon

him. To these natural feelings was added in many cases a religious sentiment which

regarded homicide as a sin against the higher Powers for which they too demanded

the blood of the guilty. Such was the feeling among the Greeks, and probably among

the Egyptians, while among the Hebrews it could plead Divine sanction, given in the

most comprehensive terms: “Your blood of your lives will I require, at the hand

of every beast will I require it; and at the hand of man;… whoso sheddeth

 man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed” (Genesis 9:5-6). The moral

difficulties of this proclamation need not here be considered; it is enough to take note

that the Divine law itself recognized the duty as well as the lawfulness of private

blood-revenge when public justice could not be depended on. The

goel, therefore, was not merely the natural champion of his family, nor only

the deliverer who satisfied the imperious demands of an artificial code of

honor; he was a minister of God, in whose patient efforts to hunt down

his victim the thirst for vengeance was to some extent at least superseded

by, or rather transmuted into, the longing to glorify God (compare the

difficult case of Revelation 6:10). It was not merely human feelings of

great reach and tenacity which were outraged by the immunity of the

manslayer; it was still more the justice of God which received a grievous

wound. Just because, however, God had made the cause of the slain man

His own, and had sanctioned the avenging mission of the goel, He could

therefore regulate the course of vengeance so as to make it run as even as

possible with true justice. It was not indeed possible to distinguish ab initio

between the homicide which deserved and that which did not deserve

capital punishment. Such distinction, difficult under any circumstances, was

impossible when vengeance was in private hands. But while the goel could

not be restrained from immediate pursuit unhindered by investigation or

compunction (lest his whole usefulness be paralyzed), the manslayer might

have opportunity to escape, and to be sheltered under the Divine mercy

until he could establish (if that were possible) his innocence. No better

instance can be found of the way in which the King of Israel adopted the

sentiments and institutions of a semi-barbarous age, added to them the

sanctions of religion, and so modified them as to secure the maximum of

practical good consistent with the social state and moral feelings of the

people. No doubt many an individual was overtaken and slain by the goel

who did. not deserve to die according to our ideas; but where perfection

was unattainable, this error was far less dangerous to that age than the

opposite error of diminishing the sanctity of human life and the

awfulness of Divine justice. (This is something that those against capital

punishment and are pro-choice, need to contemplate BEFORE THE GREAT

DAY OF JUDGMENT! – CY – 2012) -  that the manslayer die not, until he

stand before the congregation in judgment.” The congregation. Hebrew, hd;[e.

This word is used frequently from Exodus 12:3 to the end of this chapter, and again in

Joshua and the last two chapters of Judges. It is not found in Deuteronomy, nor often

in the later books. In every case apparently eydah signifies the whole nation as gathered

together, e.g., as represented by all who had an acknowledged right to appear, for of

course 600,000 men could not gather together in any one place. The force of the word

may be understood by reference to its use in Judges 20:1; 21:10, 13, 16.  Another word

(lh;q;) is also used, less frequently in Leviticus and Numbers, but more frequently in the

later books, for the general assembly of the people of Israel. No distinction of

meaning can be drawn between the two words, and it cannot, therefore, be maintained

that the“congregation of this verse means the local elders of Joshua 20:4. The

regulations there laid down are not inconsistent with the present law, but are quite

independent of it. They refer to a preliminary hearing of the case as stated by the fugitive

alone in order to determine his right to shelter in the mean time; which right, if accorded,

was without prejudice to the future judgment of the “congregation” on the whole facts

of the case (see below on v. 25).


13 “And of these cities which ye shall give six cities shall ye have for refuge.”

Six cities. See on Deuteronomy 19:8-9, where three more are apparently ordered to

be set aside upon a certain contingency:


14 “Ye shall give three cities on this side Jordan,” - According to Deuteronomy

4:41-43, Moses himself severed these three cities, Bezer of the Reubenites, Ramoth

of the Gadites, and Golan of the Manassites.  Those verses, however, seem to be an

evident interpolation where they stand, and are hardly consistent with previous statements

if taken literally.  It is tolerably clear that the two tribes had only formed temporally

settlements hitherto, and that their boundaries were not defined as yet; also that the

Levitical cities (to which the cities of refuge were to belong) were not separated until

after the conquest. It is likely that the passage in Deuteronomy is a fragment, the real

meaning of which is that Moses ordered the severance of three cities on that side

Jordan as cities of refuge, for which purposes the three cities mentioned were

afterwards selected - “and three cities shall ye give in the land of Canaan,

which shall be cities of refuge.  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 killeth any person unawares may flee thither.”





16 “And if he smite him with an instrument of iron,” -  There is no reasonable

Doubt that ly,r]B" has here (as elsewhere) its proper meaning of iron. The

expression must be held to include both weapons and other instruments; the former

may have been mostly made of bronze, but where iron is used at all it is sure to be

employed in war -“so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely

be put to death.”  (“the murderer shall surely be put to death  - Perhaps if

this phrase was incorporated in modern sitcoms at every opportunity, much like

subliminal references to sex, drugs, and anti-capital punishment is infused into so

called entertainment today, “the murderer shall surely be put to death”  - if

these words were subtlety woven into game show questions like those

about sex, drugs, abortion and other progressive causes, “the murderer

shall surely be put to death”  - if crossword puzzles contained this

reference, then, perhaps, our culture would be influenced to DO NOT SO

WICKEDLY AGAINST GOD, and Biblical thinking would be more prevalent

in our society, the way it was when television first came on the scene.  Perhaps

the American public would be brainwashed into correct thinking, much like

they are hoodwinked now by constant and repetitious placing of secular ideas

before them today.  Perhaps this is awkwardly stated but YOU KNOW

WHAT I MEAN! - CY – 2012)


17 “And if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die,”

Literally, “with a stone of the hand, by which one may die,” i.e., a stone

which is suitable for striking or throwing, and apt to inflict a mortal wound -

 and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.” 

(Hollywood, modern playwrights, movie producers, directors, etc, may not

incorporate this idea in repetitiously, BUT GOD’S WORD DOES! “THE



18 “Or if he smite him with an hand weapon of wood,” - A club, or other such

formidable instrument -  “wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer:

the murderer shall surely be put to death.  (HE IS A MURDERER:  THE


put this in terms modern man can understand.  THIS IS A THREE-PEAT!

For the third verse in a row, the Bible says:   THE MURDERER SHALL

SURELY BE PUT TO DEATH!  - People today have to know what they

are doing when they go against God so BLATANTLY! – CY – 2012)


19  The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he

meeteth him,” - i.e., outside a city of refuge - “he shall slay him.”


20  But if” - Rather, “and if” (μaiw]). The consideration of willful murder is

continued in these two verses, although chiefly with reference to the motive. It is to

be understood that the deliberate intent was present in the former cases, and a new

case is added, viz., if he smite him with his fist with fatal consequences -“he thrust

him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die;  21 “Or in enmity

smite him with his hand, that he die: he that smote him shall surely be put to

death; for he is a murderer: the revenger of blood shall slay the murderer,

when he meeteth him.”


22 “But if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon

him any thing without laying of wait,” - Without enmity.… without laying

of wait. These expressions seem intended to limit mercy to cases of pure accident,

such as that quoted in Deuteronomy 19:5. Neither provocation nor any other

extenuating circumstances” are taken into account, nor what we now speak of as

absence of premeditation. The want of these finer distinctions, as well as the short

and simple list of farm injuries given, show the rudeness of the age for which these

regulations were made.


23 “Or with any stone, wherewith a man may die, seeing him not, and

cast it upon him, that he die, and was not his enemy, neither sought

his harm:  24 Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and

the revenger of blood according to these judgments:”


25 “And the congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the

revenger of blood, and the congregation (hd;[e) shall restore him to the

city of his refuge,” - It is perfectly plain from this (and from Joshua 20:6) that

the general assembly of all Israel was to summon both homicide and avenger

before them with their witnesses, and, if they found the accused innocent,

were to send him back under safe escort to the city in which he had taken

refuge - “whither he was fled: and he shall abide in it unto the death of

the high priest,” -  No doubt his family might join him in his exile, and his life might

be fairly happy as well as safe within certain narrow limits; but under ordinary

circumstances he must forfeit much and risk more by his enforced absence from

home and land. It is not easy to see why the death of the high priest should have set

the fugitive free from the law of vengeance, except as FORESHADOWING

THE OF CHRIST!   No similar significance is anywhere else attributed to the

death of the high priest; and it was rather in its unbroken continuance than

in its recurring interruption that the priesthood of Aaron typified that of the

Redeemer. To see anything of a vicarious or satisfactory character in the

death of the high priest seems to be introducing an element quite foreign to

the symbolism of the Old Testament. The stress, however, which is laid

upon the fact of his decease (compare v. 28), and the solemn notice of his

having been anointed with the holy oil, seem to point unmistakably to

something in his official and consecrated character which made it right that

the rigor of the law should die with him. What the Jubilee was to the

debtor who had lost his property, that the death of the high priest was to

the slayer who had lost his liberty. If it was the case, as commonly

believed, that all blood feuds were absolutely terminated by the death of

the high priest, might this not be because the high priest, as chief minister

of the law of God, was himself the goel of the whole nation? When he died

all processes of’ vengeance lapsed, because they had really been commenced

in his name - “which was anointed with the holy oil.”


26 “But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the

city of his refuge, whither he was fled;”  - i.e., no doubt beyond its “suburbs.”

27 And the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city

of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not

be guilty of blood:  28 Because he should have remained in the city of

his refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the

high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession.

29 So these things shall be for a statute of judgment unto you

throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”


30 “Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the

mouth of witnesses:” -  i.e., of two at least (compare Deuteronomy 17:6) -

 but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.”


31 “Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer,

which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.”

Ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer. The passion for vengeance

is both bad and good, and is therefore to be carefully purified and restrained; but

when the desire for vengeance can be appeased by a money payment, it has

become wholly bad, and is only a despicable form of covetousness which

insults the justice it pretends to invoke. Such payments or “ransoms” are

permitted by the Koran, and have been common among most semi-civilized

peoples, notably amongst our old English ancestors.


32 “And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of

his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land,” -  No one

might buy off the enmity of the avenger before the appointed time, for that

would give an unjust advantage to wealth, and would make the WHOLE

MATTER MERCENARY AND VULGAR! – (One of the shortcomings

of the present penal system in the United States seems to be the allowance of the

rich to escape their crime while the poor always seem to suffer! – CY – 2012) -

 until the death of the priest.”


33 “So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth

the land: and the land cannot be cleansed” - Literally, “there is no expiation

(rp"kuy]) for the land.” Septuagint, oujc ejx ilasqh>setai hJ gh~ - ouch ex

ilasthaesetai hae gaeno expiation can be made for the land -  By these

expressions the Lord places the sin of murder in its true light, as a sin against

Himself. The land, His land, is defiled with the blood of the slain, and nothing

can do away with the guilt which cleaves to it but THE STRICT EXECUTION


The relatives of the slain, BUT CANNOT SATISFY HIS MAKER! -

 of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.”


34 “Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I

dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.”  Therefore

the murderer’s hand is raised against me; THE BLOOD OF THE SLAIN




Matthew 23:35; Revelation 6:10).






This passage brings up a subject not often discussed in the pulpit. Yet it surely is a

subject which comes home to the business of us all. In a country like ours the

administration of justice, the execution of vengeance on evildoers, is a duty in which

every one has to bear a part. We may not all be officers of justice, but we must all act

as informers, or witnesses, or jurymen. It is of high importance, therefore, that

EVERY MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY should be well instructed regarding

the principles which lie at the foundation of the criminal law, and, in particular, should

know why and on what authority the community lays hold upon evil-doers and inflicts

on them the punishment of their crimes.


  • Observe THE OCCASION of the statute here delivered. It is an

appendix to the law regarding the cities of refuge. That law was designed

to shield the involuntary slayer from the avenger of blood. The intention

was good; but good intentions do not always prevent dangerous mistakes.

It often happens that good men in laboring to cast out one evil open the

door to a greater evil. Proponents of prison reform may so press the duty of

humanity towards prisoners as to deprive the prison of its deterrent power.

So in Israel there was a danger that the care taken to restrain the avenger

of blood from touching the involuntary manslayer might have the effect of


MURDER and weakening men’s resentment against the murderer. The

design of the statute before us is to prevent so mischievous a result.




Ø      The ancient law which condemned the murderer to death is

solemnly reaffirmed (v.30; compare with vs. 16-21 and Genesis

9:6). To be sure, the extreme penalty ought not to be executed

without extreme circumspection. The unsupported testimony of

one witness is not to be held sufficient to sustain a charge of murder.

Nevertheless, if there is sufficient evidence, the sword must strike,

the murderer must not be suffered to go free.


Ø      The death penalty MAY NOT be commuted into a fine (v. 31).

In regard to this point the Mosaic law differs from many, perhaps from

most other primitive codes; for they suffered the murderer to compound

with the kinsmen of his victim by paying a fine in cattle or in money. The

law of Moses suffered no such composition. The murderer must be

put to death. Even the restraint to which the law subjected the involuntary

manslayer was not suffered to be relaxed by a money payment. In all cases

affecting the sanctity of life pecuniary compositions are utterly



  • THE REASON OF THIS STATUTE is carefully explained (vs. 33-34).

The reason lies in these three principles:


Ø      “Blood defileth the land” (compare “the land was polluted with

blood.”  Psalm 106:38). That sin defiles the sinner, that murder especially

defiles the conscience of the murderer —these are facts patent to all. It is

not so often observed that crime perpetrated in a city DEFILES THE

WHOLE CITY.  The whole community has a share in the guilt. Hence

the remarkable law laid down in Deuteronomy 21:1-9 for the expiation of

an uncertain murder.


Ø      The proper expiation of murder is by the death of the murderer.

“The land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein but

by the blood of him that shed it.” Justice is satisfied, the honor of

 the law vindicated, when the murderer is put to death, and not

otherwise.  To accept a pecuniary payment for blood is simply to

pollute the land.”



Ø      In this whole matter the paramount consideration ought to be THE

HONOR OF GOD!  Murder is criminal beyond all other offences,

because it is the defacement of the image of God in man. Murder

must not go unavenged, because it defiles the land before God. Let these

principles be carefully weighed. They set in a clear light the true and

adequate reason for inflicting punishment on evil-doers. The true reason

is neither the reformation of the criminal (for the sword must strike although

there should be no hope of reformation) nor the protection of society. These

are important objects, and not to be overlooked; but the proper reason of


executing of vengeance on the man who doeth evil (Romans 13:4).




Christ for our sins accomplished many great and precious purposes. It was

an affecting proof of His sympathy with us. It was a revelation of the

Father’s love. But these purposes do not contain the proper and adequate

reason of our Lord’s sufferings. He died for our sins. It was necessary that

our sins should be cleansed, that expiation or atonement should be made

for them. (The same Hebrew word, commonly translated atonement elsewhere

in the Old Testament, which in this passage is translated cleansing in the text and

expiation in the margin.) By a blessed exchange Christ has become sin for us;

(II Corinthians 5:21); He has borne our sins and made atonement for them.

This was the end of His sufferings to satisfy the justice of the Father for

our sins, so that His righteousness might not be dishonored although WE




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