Day 80: Cities of refuge


Numbers 35:1-8 The Levites, who were designated to give priestly service to all the tribes, would not be assigned land. All the tribes, however, were responsible for their support and livelihood and each tribe was to contribute land within their boundaries for use by the Levites.


Ch 35:9-34 The Lord called for the establishment of six “cities of refuge” where persons who killed someone accidentally might flee and avoid vengeance while awaiting justice.


Ch 36:1-13 Under a new clarification of the Law, women who held inheritance of land from their fathers had to marry within their own tribe; otherwise, tribal lands would transfer to the tribe of the woman’s husband. The rule comes about not as a restriction on women per se but in compliance with God’s plan that land within the boundaries of a particular tribe could not be ceded to another tribe.


Deuteronomy 34:1-12 Before his death, Moses took one last look at the Promised Land to which God had led his people. The stage was set for their triumphal entry under their new leader, Joshua.


Psalm 121 Hills: This may be a reference to the “high places” of the pagan shrines erected throughout Israel by idolaters. Pagan worship usually had the purpose of obtaining prosperity in the present life; obviously, this is a temptation very alive today (Prosperity Gospel, anyone? Or maybe Genies? 🤔). The faithful must be able to distinguish between the true mountain, which is Christ, from the hills of idolatry that invite us to a worldly blessing that soon vanishes. We must keep our minds and hearts fixed on God “who made heaven and earth” for our strength, protection, and true fulfillment. (Cf. Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, October 12, 2005)


The Lord is our keeper: This is essentially an answer to the question in the opening verse. God’s fatherly protection of his people means he is trustworthy. This fact does not rid us of difficulties in life; rather, it assures us of his constant help in overcoming all obstacles.


“Our God never lets us out of his sight; he is like a mother who watches closely over her child as he takes his first steps...What consolation the Christian feels, to know that God is ALWAYS WATCHING OVER HIM, that he witnesses his trials and struggles-to know God is on his side” (St. John Vianney, Sermon on Corpus Christi). (CCC 239)

  • THIS CONCLUDES DESERT WANDERINGS!!!

  • Give yourself a high five :)

  • Numbers 35 & 36: Remember that the Levites don’t get any land

  • It seems like an anticlimactic way to conclude the Book of Numbers

  • Land, boundaries, cities for the Levites, murder and revenge and inheritance laws…

  • Well, the beginning of the Book of Numbers was mostly numbers (or did you fall asleep during that part? 😉)

  • Maybe it’s very fitting that we conclude the Book of Numbers with some instructions

  • The Tribes of Israel were all given land as an inheritance

  • But the Levites do not get any land

  • But, they had to live SOMEWHERE

  • They were given 48 cities, 6 of which were called CITIES OF REFUGE

  • We talked about these before

  • The CITIES OF REFUGE were put there because the penalty for murder was the death penalty

  • The cities of refuge were there for those who ACCIDENTALLY killed another person aka MANSLAUGHTER

  • The cities of refuge prevented VENGEANCE

  • Three of these cities were across the Jordan River in Moab

  • Three of these cities were in the Land of Canaan

  • Why?

  • Because they were close enough so that anyone could flee there to avoid MOB JUSTICE/VENGEANCE and could be TRIED JUSTLY

  • It’s so practical and it is pretty edifying to see

  • How do you PROVE if someone was killed WITH INTENT aka MURDER?

  • “If you struck him down with iron or rock or wood…”

  • They might have been INTENDING more than just punching them out

  • They were probably INTENDING to KILL THE PERSON

  • Is this 100% foolproof?

  • NO!

  • But it WAS a beginning (oooh that’s the ending line of each prologue to all 15 books of THE WHEEL OF TIME….NEEEEERRRRRDDDDD!!!!! 🤓)

  • The people had to learn to DISCERN between accidental death and MURDER

  • The Law of Justice: If this was a CRIME OF PASSION as opposed to lying in wait to MURDER SOMEONE, there is a difference

  • If there was only ONE witness, the person could not be found guilty on just one witness

  • Why?

  • Human nature is to manipulate truth and LIE to give FALSE TESTIMONY

  • We will see this in the future so that we understand there is a NEED to have more than ONE WITNESS to give testimony when it came to a CAPITAL OFFENSE

  • This is a lot of WISDOM given to the People of Israel, and to US

  • Concerning married women’s inheritance

  • Remember Zelophehad?

  • He didn’t have any SONS

  • He only had DAUGHTERS

  • So where does the property go, because usually it was transferred from FATHER TO SON and not FATHER TO DAUGHTER

  • Kind of a pickle, isn’t it?

  • The Law stated that ABSOLUTELY the daughters get the land of their father

  • But what happens if those daughters marry someone from a different TRIBE?

  • If that happens, then the husbands get the inheritance

  • The land would not belong to the daughters, but now the husbands

  • Now that’s a messy situation

  • If you were a woman who had land from the Tribe of Benjamin and married a man from the Tribe of Judah, now the land belongs to the man of the Tribe of Judah

  • So God, through Moses, comes up with an ingenious solution

  • The women get to marry WHOMEVER they want but FROM THEIR OWN TRIBE

  • Is this perfect?

  • OF COURSE NOT!

  • Is it a wise and intelligent COMPROMISE?

  • In the ancient world, this was how INHERITANCE WAS PASSED ON

  • Land was SO SO IMPORTANT

  • It was not just MY property

  • It was my FAMILY’S property

  • Remember yesterday how we looked at the borders of the Promised Land

  • This is the Land that BELONGED TO THE TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL

  • That land HAS TO HAVE RULES ABOUT IT

  • We may look at it and say it doesn’t seem fair when it comes to who gets what

  • How does land transfer from father to daughter but not from that daughter to HER daughters or sons?

  • Yet, this is a PRETTY WISE COMPROMISE and a PRETTY WISE DISCERNMENT

  • Here is how we can SOLVE THIS PROBLEM

  • This honors the daughters in that they could marry WHOMEVER THEY WANT WITHIN THEIR TRIBE because the INHERITANCE AND PROPERTY IS SO IMPORTANT TO THE WHOLE TRIBE

  • This teaches us something not just about our MARRIAGES, but about LIFE

  • It reminds us that we are not meant to live ON OUR OWN

  • We are not meant to be simply individual atoms in the middle of the universe

  • We are UNITED TO EACH OTHER

  • We BELONG TO EACH OTHER

  • There are RIGHTS that come with these relationships with other people

  • But there are also RESPONSIBILITIES that come with these relationships with other people

  • It’s good to be reminded of this

  • St. Teresa of Calcutta once said, “One of the reasons we don’t have peace is that we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

  • There is something about the GOODNESS and WHOLENESS of being a part of a community, part of a family

  • It means I can’t just do whatever I want (even if I want to throw a pie in a Dallas Cowboys fan’s face 🤪)

  • I have some OBLIGATIONS and DUTIES

  • Of course, these obligations can ALSO BE CORRUPTED

  • Of course, these obligations can be MANIPULATED

  • Of course, these obligations can be MISUSED

  • For all of us, we need to recognize that WE DO NOT BELONG JUST TO OURSELVES

  • WE BELONG TO GOD

  • WE BELONG TO OUR FAMILIES

  • WE BELONG TO OUR PEOPLE

  • WE BELONG TO OUR COMMUNITY IN THIS BIBLE IN A YEAR COMMUNITY (And that’s why I write these notes. I belong to all of you too)

  • Pray for each other

  • Pray for Fr. Mike


Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. We thank you this day and every day for being with us on this journey. We thank you for guiding us on this journey through these desert wanderings. We thank you for your faithfulness because, Lord, you meet us in our weakness, you meet us in our unfaithfulness even in the small call to be faithful to hearing your Word every single day. Lord God, when we fail in that, today is our day 80. Even if we failed a bunch of times, this is day 80 of this journey through the Bible. We are all so grateful that you continue to guide us on this journey and you continue to lead us and you continue to speak to us and you continue to shape our hearts to be more and more like yours, to shape our vision of you and of the world to be more and more like yours. Help us to see like you. Help us to live like you. Help us to love like you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”