Theocratic Ministry School Review - Week Starting February 23, 2015

Study information for Theocratic Ministry School Review

The following questions will be considered at the Theocratic Ministry School during the week beginning February 23, 2015.

1. How did the cities of refuge in ancient Israel differ from pagan sanctuaries for fugitive criminals? (Josh. 20:2, 3) [Jan. 5, w10 11/1 p. 15 pars. 4-6]

(Josh. 20:2, 3) “Tell the Israelites, ‘Select for yourselves the cities of refuge about which I spoke to you through Moses, 3 so that the manslayer who unintentionally or accidentally kills someone may flee there. And they will serve as a refuge for you from the avenger of blood.

***w10 11/1 p. 15 Did You Know?***
▪ In the ancient pagan world, many temples served as asylums for fugitives or criminals. In medieval Christendom, abbeys and churches served the same function. The rules governing ancient Israel’s cities of refuge, however, ensured that they did not become sanctuaries for criminals.
The Mosaic Law stated that cities of refuge protected only the unintentional manslayer. (Deuteronomy 19:4, 5) He could flee to the nearest city of refuge, out of reach of the victim’s nearest male relative, who could otherwise avenge the shed blood. After stating his case to the city’s older men, the fugitive was taken to stand trial in the city having jurisdiction over the location where the death occurred. There he had opportunity to prove his innocence. The elders reviewed the relationship between the fugitive and the victim, noting if prior hatred existed.—Numbers 35:20-24; Deuteronomy 19:6, 7; Joshua 20:4, 5.
If found innocent, the fugitive returned to the city of refuge and had to remain in its immediate vicinity. These cities were not prisons. The refugee worked and served as a useful member of society. Upon the death of the high priest, all refugees could leave the cities of refuge in safety.—Numbers 35:6, 25-28.

(Deut. 19:4, 5) “Now this is what should take place regarding the manslayer who may flee there in order to live: When he strikes his fellow man unintentionally and he did not previously hate him; 5 as when he goes with his fellow man into the forest to gather wood and he raises his hand to cut the tree with the ax, but the axhead flies off the handle and hits his fellow man and he dies, the manslayer should flee to one of these cities to live.
(Num. 35:20-24) If death resulted because he pushed him out of hatred or threw something at him with malicious intent, 21 or out of hatred he struck him with his hand, and he died, the one who struck him will be put to death without fail. He is a murderer. The avenger of blood will put the murderer to death when he encounters him. 22 “‘But if it was unexpectedly and not out of hatred that he pushed him or threw any article at him without malicious intent, 23 or if he did not see him and caused a stone to fall on him and he was not an enemy or seeking his injury, and the person died, 24 the assembly should then judge between the one who struck him and the avenger of blood, in harmony with these judgments.
(Deut. 19:6, 7) Otherwise, in the heat of anger, the avenger of blood may chase after the manslayer, overtake him, and kill him, because the distance to the city was too far. However, he did not deserve to die, since he did not previously hate his fellow man. 7 That is why I am commanding you: ‘Set three cities apart.’
(Josh. 20:4, 5) He must flee to one of these cities and stand at the entrance of the city gate and present his case in the hearing of the elders of that city. Then they must receive him into the city and give him a place and he will live with them. 5 If the avenger of blood chases after him, they should not surrender the manslayer into his hand, for he killed his fellow man accidentally and he did not previously hate him.
(Num. 35:6) “The cities that you will give to the Levites will be 6 cities of refuge, which you will give for the manslayer to flee to, as well as 42 other cities.
(Num. 35:25-28) The assembly should then save the manslayer from the hand of the avenger of blood and return him to his city of refuge to which he had fled, and he must dwell in it until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil. 26 “‘But if the manslayer goes out of the boundary of his city of refuge to which he fled 27 and the avenger of blood finds him outside the boundary of his city of refuge and slays the manslayer, he has no bloodguilt. 28 For he must dwell in his city of refuge until the high priest’s death. But after the high priest’s death, the manslayer may return to the land that he owns.

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