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Joshua 20




SCRIPTURE: Joshua 20

This chapter presents some interesting information that a lot of Christ followers are not aware of.  If you knew about this provision for cities of refuge, good.  If you didn’t know about this provision for cities of refuge, don’t worry about it.  For some reason it is not talked about very often in the church today.

Interestingly enough, one of the first ordinances God gave Israel after He gave them the 10 Commandments was the ordinance about cities of refuge.  These cities were to provide asylum or safe haven for people who unintentionally killed someone else.  They are referred to as manslayers in many different translations.  The fact that these cities are discussed in four different books of the Bible indicate how important they were.

In the ancient cultures, revenge was widely practiced.  If someone was killed, that person’s nearest male relative took responsibility for vengeance.  This vengeance was a “life for a life”.  This was practiced regardless of the motivation or intention of the killing.

In the case of someone who killed accidently and unintentionally, he was supposed to go as quickly as possible to a city of refuge.  There he would present his preliminary case to the elders of that city.  They would decide if he could stay in the city of refuge until a full trial could be held.  If the result of the full trial was that person killed accidently and unintentionally, he could live in that city of refuge without fear of retribution or retaliation.  He was to live there until the man who was high priest when the killing took place died.  Upon the death of the high priest, the one who did the killing was free to go.  As unusual as this may sound, it may have actually provided for a statute of limitations.

As you look at this chapter, you will see there were six cities of refuge scattered around the country.  That would make it easier for one who accidentally and unintentionally killed to find a place of refuge until and if he was proven innocent of premeditated murder. 

This process may seem a bit unusual.  But it was one of the ways that God proved for the sanctity of life.  The life of the one who was killed was obviously important.  But the life of the one who accidently and unintentionally killed was important as well.  If God had not provided for these cities of refuge, additional lives would have been loss.

From a symbolic view, these cities pointed to Jesus.  There is one who is pursuing us with the intent of taking our lives.  This is Satan, the enemy of our souls.  There is only one place he can’t reach us.  That is in Jesus.  Jesus is the place of refuge for all Christ followers.  It is only in Christ that we can find protection from the one who pursues us to take our lives.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Joshua 19




SCRIPTURE: Joshua 19

This chapter marks the end of the allotments and allocation of land to the remaining tribes of Israel.  The next chapter deals in large part with the creation of refuge cities which is most interesting.  The chapter after that focuses on the specifics of what is given to the tribe of Levi.  But the general process of allotment and allocation draws to a close with this chapter.

As you read through the chapter you will see the legal descriptions of the lands given to Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan.

As you read about the land given to Simeon, you will find it is part of the land that was given to Judah.  The reason for this, in verse 9, is the land given to Judah was “too large for them”.  This doesn’t mean that God made a mistake when He gave this section of land to Judah.  But it could mean a couple of other things.  One, they didn’t exercise the faith that God would take care of the Canaanites that were still living in that area.  Two, they didn’t make the effort to take all that God had given them. 

Interestingly enough, the tribe of Simeon would eventually lose their identity.  Many of the people of that tribe would fold into the tribe of Judah and others would migrate north to Ephraim and Manasseh and join them.

Zebulun is the next tribe.  One thing that I want to call to your attention is the town of Bethlehem mentioned in verse 15 is not the same town of Bethlehem where Jesus would be born. 

Issachar was given the fertile and beautiful Valley of Jezreel which by the way was also a noted battlefield.  However, this tribe basically only occupied the mountainous area at the eastern end of the valley.  The lesson here is we should always be good stewards of all God has given us.

When you get to verse 40, you will encounter some information about Dan.  The land given to Dan may have been the least desirable allotment.  It was also a geographically smaller piece of land.  However, Dan lost part of it as a result of losing a battle with the Amorites.  After that the tribe moved northward and took some land around the city of Leshem.

The chapter ends with Joshua.  You might remember that Caleb had first pick on the land in Canaan.  To his credit he picked one of the most difficult sections to take.  Joshua, on the other hand, had last pick. 

The deal was Joshua could have any part of the land that he wanted.  Here was another test of Joshua’s character.  After all he had been through in leading the nation of Israel either as Moses’ second in command during the wilderness journeys or through leading the nation of Israel through the taking of the Promised Land, Joshua could have understandably asked for the prime territory.  Instead he asked for the city of Timnath Serah which is in one of the most mountainous, infertile areas of the Promised Land. 

There are two important things we can learn about Biblical leadership from this episode in Joshua’s life.  One, leaders go last.  They do all they can to make sure everybody else has what they need before they go.  Two, leaders don’t grab the best.  A Biblical leader’s humility will always drive him to taking on the most difficult of tasks and settling for what few others would choose.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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