Numbers 35:1-5 The Lord spoke to Moses to command Israel to give the Levites cities and pastureland in their territories for their portion to dwell. The pastureland shall extend 1500 feet from the city walls outward and 3000 all around.
Numbers 35:6-15 Six of the total cities (48) shall be refuge where the manslayer who kills without intent shall flee in safety (avoid unlawful revenge) until a fair shall be given. The number of cities given were based on the proportional size of each tribe. 3 cities of refuge shall be east of the Jordan River and 3 cities on the west side of the Jordan River.
Notes: The avenger. The meaning of this term is “near of kin.” It refers to the person chosen by a family to deal with a loss suffered in that family. Here the close relative of a homicide victim would seek to avenge his death, but not until proper judgment was made.
Numbers 35:16-21 If the manslayer is determined to have killed a person with an iron object, stone tool, wooden tool, by pushing him out of hatred or hurled something at him, or stuck him down with his hands, the man is considered a murderer and shall be put to death. The avenger of blood shall be the one to put him to death.
Numbers 35:22-29 If the manslayer pushed him suddenly without enmity, or hurled anything on him without lying in wait, etc., the congregation shall make a judgement. If found innocent of intent, the man shall remain in the city of refuge until the death of the High Priest. If the manslayer leaves the city at any time prior to the death of the High Priest, then he is at the mercy of the avenger and the avenger won’t be guilty if he kills the manslayer. If the manslayer still lives when the High Priest, he is free to return to his own land and if the avenger kills him, the avenger will be guilty.
Numbers 35:30-34 A murder shall be put to death on the evidence of more than one witness. No ransom shall be allowed in place of the death penalty. Blood pollutes the land and only the death of the guilty can atone for the land, otherwise the land will be defiled.
Notes: Canaan is the holy land, not because Israel lives there but because God dwells there. He is the preeminently holy one, and sin and death are in absolute opposition to him (see note on 5:1–6:27). If the land is made unclean by violent death, drastic measures must be taken to make atonement; otherwise the Lord will forsake the land and Israel will be exiled.