Cities Of Refuge

Cities Of Refuge November 3, 2017

Why does God set up cities of refuge for the nation of Israel? Are these cities symbolic of something or someone else?

Cities of Refuge

There were accidental deaths in ancient Israel just as there are accidental deaths today in which a person is not responsible or guilty of killing the person, so God, in His divine wisdom, established cities of refuge where those who are involved in such incidents can flee to while the legal process takes place and they are heard before the elders to establish guilt or innocence, so these cities of refuge were established where the person could go and avoid retaliation or revenge from a family member or friend of the one that was killed (not murdered). Moses records the establishment of these cities of refuge in Numbers 35:25 where He wrote, “And the congregation shall rescue the manslayer from the hand of the avenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to his city of refuge to which he had fled, and he shall live in it until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil,” however, “if the manslayer shall at any time go beyond the boundaries of his city of refuge to which he fled, and the avenger of blood finds him outside the boundaries of his city of refuge, and the avenger of blood kills the manslayer, he shall not be guilty of blood” (Num 35:26-27). This means that the person who accidentally killed someone “must remain in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest, but after the death of the high priest the manslayer may return to the land of his possession” (Num 35:28). As long as they were there, they were safe.


Their Purpose

Cities of refuge were established to keep people from seeking revenge from a family member or friend of the person accidentally killed. There was no room for retaliation in such cases, so when Israel settled into the Promised Land, it was “to the descendants of Aaron the priest they gave Hebron, the city of refuge for the manslayer, with its pasturelands, Libnah with its pasturelands” (Joshua 21:13), but there were several cities of refuge placed around the land so that someone wouldn’t have to travel too far when they needed to escape. The Kohathites gave land to the Levites, but also “the cities allotted to them were out of the tribe of Ephraim. To them were given Shechem, the city of refuge for the manslayer, with its pasturelands in the hill country of Ephraim, Gezer with its pasturelands, Kibzaim with its pasturelands, Beth-horon with its pasturelands—four cities” (Joshua 21:20b-22). These cities were strategically located and provided a place of safety where they could live without the fear of retaliation from the victim’s family members or friends. Even though the person may been involved in the killing, if the killing was not intentional, the person would not have to die since there was no premeditation to the killing. The same thing could apply to someone trying to defend themselves from being killed. In short, these cities provided a shelter from someone seeking revenge, even though they were not responsible for the person’s death. If that person was killed by a family member or friend, then the person they killed could come after someone else in the other family, and it could easily escalate into a family feud where dozens of others could die in the cross fire.

Christ, our Refuge

In the Old Testament, Abner died at the gates of Hebron, a city of refuge, but he may have been responsible. The Bible says Joab killed Abner “on account of the blood of Asahel his brother” (2nd Sam 3:27), thus Joab was acting as an avenger, but the problem is, Asahel was killed during the battle. This means that his death was not technically a murder. Also, Abner took great pains to show that he did not want to kill Asahel and tried to avoid it…even riding away from him and telling him he didn’t want to kill him, so apparently Abner acted solely in self-defense. In other words, Abner killed without premeditation and should have been safe in Hebron, but the problem was, he came just outside of the gates of Hebron, a city of refuge, and was murdered right there at the gate…a place where the elders came together to make decisions on the fate of accused slayers, so “when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the midst of the gate to speak with him privately, and there he struck him in the stomach, so that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother” (2nd Sam 3:27), thus Abner was killed at the gate of Hebron, “in the midst of the gate,” meaning he wasn’t inside the city or inside the gate. Abner should have stayed inside the gates of the city until the changing of the high priest and he would be free to go with no fear of retribution, but Abner, perhaps trying to justify his actions rather than depend on the process of the city of refuge and the elders of Hebron to decide his case, went just outside the gates, and there, fell by the hand of Joab.


For everyone who’s trusted in Christ, Jesus is that city of refuge. To Him they ran and escaped the wrath of God. If you have never trusted in Jesus Christ, you are not in a city of refuge, and you will need a refuge when the God of glory appears to judge the world in righteousness. Jesus Christ will appear a second time, but this time not as the meek and mild Lamb of God Who gave His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), but as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, bringing judgment on all who have rejected Him. They will be judged by their earthly works, and since their works cannot save them, they will be condemned at the Great White Throne Judgment, where even Satan and his demons are judged (Rev 20:11-15). The cities of refuge were a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our refuged because we’re all guilty of sin, and not one of us is good (Rom 3:10). All of humanity falls infinitely short of His glory (Rom 3:23), so we need to repent of our sins, confess them to God, and put our trust in Christ. That’s when the judgment is over for us; at least our being judged for our sins. That’s because the judgment that was due us, was placed on Christ at the cross. He took upon Himself our sins, but if you reject the only name by which you can be saved (Acts 4:12), you will die with God’s wrath upon you (John 3:36b), and that is not God’s desire (2nd Pet 3:9), anymore that it is mine, so I pray you put your trust in Christ today…while we can still call it “today” (2nd Cor 6:2).

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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  • Fall Colors

    If I haven’t hurt or killed someone accidentally, then do I need Jesus’ refuge?

    • Jack Wellman

      Yes ! Despartely (Rev 20:12-15).

      • pud

        Demonstrate that your Bronze and Iron Age book of nonsense is actually true regarding ANYTHING….waiting…

      • Fall Colors

        Nobody’s out for revenge on me, so I’m not desperate.

    • pud

      You need behavioral modification or institutionalization

      • Fall Colors

        Is that because I’m deplorable?

        Ah, those Methodist bigots really get worked up some days, don’t they?

        • pud

          Anyone married to an ideology is a lunatic. Right, Left, Religious, Communist, Nazi….there’s never been a tribal ideology worth belonging to. The world is not black or white

          • Fall Colors

            Anyone…lunatic…The world is not black or white.

            You are truly the master of irony.

          • pud

            Yeah…the “world” isn’t black or white so ANYONE who’s world view is BLACK or WHITE is a lunatic

            Fairly clear lunatic

          • Fall Colors

            Is your starkly black and white thinking lunatic too?

          • NathansFather

            Thank you FC. I can only guess what the blocked IT is saying 🙂 Jump right in their folks and defend others who are being abused by this wicked entity.

          • NathansFather

            Don’t bother engaging he/she/it PUD in conversation. This entity is getting reported to the authorities as of yesterday from another board author on this Patheos Channel. Meanwhile just mark this entity’s moniker which literally means D|CK. Scroll over to the top most of it’s comments, mark as targeted harassment and then block. We call this entity IT because IT has never proven IT is a she or a he human 🙂

            Yet the screams Proof of GOD and the Bible. We post proof of historic, mathematics, scientific, and archaeology physical evidence IT upbraids us with the worst of cursing and ignores the sources. Truly an abuser ready to snap!

            Certainly never agree with IT. You may find yourself like Bruce is doing as an enabler reported also. He has become D|CK Jr. 🙁 Their time to abuse Christians all changed when the authorities want us to report those quite capable of killing Christians as in PUD’s case has avowed to do. PUD wants to kill all Christians. We have his manifesto published and saved. No more persecuted and martyred United States citizens massacre!

        • NathansFather

          Part 1 – the mislead by the wolves in sheep’s clothing

          The Wiccan High Priestess is mixed up with a money lender in NYC. He is NO holy man to be sure. He wrote her a book on devotionals. Took a verse at a time and twisted it as is the MO of the evil one in the wilderness trying to tempt Jesus.

          The mainline Methodist as are most large denominations mixed up with the World Council of Churches. Many local churches have no idea how evil this branch of the UN is. The local churches and their synods may not be aware there is a World Council of Churches. WCCs entertain the Islamists and pope’s high bishops of the Vatican. This is the church of The Third Way.

          What is the World Council of Churches (WCC)?

        • NathansFather

          Part 2 – mislead by the rich communitarians of the UN – Note many key names of both parties and multi-billionaires and some high level apostate church leaders such as Rick Warren.

          Search results for: Clintons Third Way
          135 results found containing all search terms.
          2 pages of results.

          Communitarianism & The Third Way of the Luciferians and Clintons
          [New World Order “religion” mix of communism and apostasy]
          1. Communitarianism – the uniparty United Nations group

          *** And save your comments on politics for Breitbart or some other “deplorable”
          posting forum. 😉 There are many opportunities as they covered the Texas massacre of the persecuted and the Martyrs. This is not the proper venue. ***

          *** You are welcome to post for help and reading to learn more about Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Iesous Y’hua. You are not welcome to foment trouble. We believe in civil conversation. Those who cannot speak with respect are shunned. ***

  • pud

    Your invisible celestial real estate broker does no such thing.

    The best question is why do you remain so deluded, gullible and entrenched in this absurd irrational cult making a living lying to children?

  • pud

    Judgement! Wrath! Sin! Filthy rags! Death! Eternal torment! by the all powerful loving deity who insists you “believe” nonsense or else!

    The all powerful eternal supreme deity who exists ONLY to watch and judge his infinitely lessor creations….all of time spent doing something else but now it’s all about jack and his petty transgressions and whether or not he’ll beg not to be put to the flame for being human.

    Can any adult be either this stupid, infantile or gullible to envision a scenario so totally out of proportion…to swallow an ancient book written by ignorant savages….to have invisible friends who only talk to you in your head and a fantasy world full of demons and angels and mysterious realms? Impossible you say? Apparently not. The christian and religious primates haven’t evolved in 6000 years….still as fearful and deranged as cave dwellers

    A celestial dictator…psychotic…terrorist “god”….nice

  • Doug Barron

    Abba is making allowance for man’s free will to act in his fallen nature, and to provide a safe haven for the innocent caught up in another’s excercise of thier free will.
    (This is too deep for some avatars to grasp)

    • pud

      You’re an idiot. It’s not “too deep” it’s nonsensical made up gibberish! Fixed it for you

      1. There is no such thing as “free will” Everything you do is the product of all the prior causal events in your miserable deluded life. You will do what you do tomorrow completely subject to the sum of everything that crossed your path every prior day of your life. Had any random event been different in the past you would do something entirely different tomorrow

      2. If man has a “fallen nature” (you sickos just love the filth guilt and shame) it is the responsibility of your invisible non-existent creator who crafted you…duh

      3. “Safe haven” “Abba” LOL

    • pud
    • Jack Wellman

      Well said Mr. Barron. Women ltrolls like pud are not interested in the truth but sad to see she is making light of such a tragic event.

      • pud

        Demonstrate the TRUTH you coward. Show that your nonsense is TRUE! I dare you to even try! Was anything I wrote untrue? Could not your magic man in the sky have done something to prevent this? Did “he” not show up, not fix the shooters mind, block the bullets, perform a “miracle”? Why not jack…why would your deity sit by and watch?

      • NathansFather

        He/she/it has been reported by David on his column. Jack if you can’t report IT maybe Josh can. I noted he originally started this Christian Crier area. He should have moderating privileges and banning completely.

        Patheos must recognize no longer will Christians have to be abused. At some point they may be held accountable for not removing these dangerous people.

        The authorities encourage us to report people who indeed are capable of killing other people. I take PUD at this entity’s word he/she/it wants to kill Christians. The killer in TX did the same thing. Called himself an atheist and threatened many, many people online. And we have another abuser named Bruce here as an enabler. Both need to go. They add nothing to the conversation of a civil manner and only seek to foment evil.

        • Jack Wellman

          I agree… Pud’s only purpose is to troll and spout hatred and so she has no real purpose but to show that Psalm 14:1 and the rest is true of her and others who deny the obvious. She is hurting and so I think Matt 7:6 shows its a waste of time to try and reason with her. Being an anonymous person is her way of hiding. Praying for this poor soul.

          • NathansFather

            Let us hope this demonically possessed individual is confronted by the Great God Almighty. PUD is one very sick soul. God’s will be done.
            I am most concerned for the innocent people that this entity may attack simply for being Christian.
            We are told to report people such as this in light of the Christian Martrydom we are seeing in our country today. And to think this evil entity makes fun of the injured and killed people in the Texas Church.
            When a person threatens violence and this extreme of hatred they are dangerous.

    • NathansFather

      😉 Love it Doug. Greetings brother!

  • pud

    Why didn’t your “god” in his “infinite wisdom” intervene to prevent the accidental deaths? Huh? PS…there is NO historical evidence for the existence of any such moses character. NONE

  • tovlogos

    Excellent post Pastor, thank you.

    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you my friend.

  • pud

    jesus kicking back on a lazy Sunday..can’t be bothered saving christians…

    Witnesses Say 15 People Are “Down” After Gunman Opens Fire In Texas Church

    In an incident that authorities are describing as a “mass casualty situation,” between 12 and 15 people have reportedly been shot at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas…

    • pud

      As many as 27 dead while jesus went bowling and drank beers. Time to “pray” right? Nothing like begging the almighty after the fact! Time to make up excuses and rationalize the indifference of your deity…waiting for stupid comments

  • pud

    “May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas,” tweeted President Donald Trump, who is in Japan on his first trip to Asia as president.

    LOL Even the lying lunatic psychotic president babbles religious nonsense! The “god” WASN’T with anyone was he/she/it? This “god” was nowhere to be seen!

  • NathansFather

    Great article Jack!
    We are protected by The Whole Armor of GOD.
    Jack and I have an excellent watchman sister, friend, and mentor with a Bible Study.
    It is meant for children but we all should go through it.
    Save to your drives and when things get harsh refer to it and restore your peace.
    Armor of God

  • NathansFather

    PUD keep it up. You are about to be history… we have your posts saved. IF you think yourself so brilliant you certainly should realize this. NOW shoo! The moderators are converging on Patheos to keep murderous people off of their boards. The IT in you must want you to commit suicide. You are well on your way to get the human body you possess in major difficulties. Your behavior is just as twisted as the shooter in TXas that threatened Christian lives on many venues with murder. I would say I was appealing to a human but you still haven’t proven you are one. The demon(s) in you HATE you don’t you understand?