Numbers 35-36 Murder and Manslaughter

From Numbers 35-36

04 NumbersHow would you go about executing justice for those who have killed others?

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

As we near to the promised land it becomes necessary to define rules by which people will live by when in the land. Here the reading goes into greater detail concerning the cities of refuge. Then it discusses the detail of the punishments for murder and manslaughter.

30 “If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the evidence of witnesses. But no person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness. (Num 35:30)

The command assumes the offender is caught or has escaped to the local city of refuge and then subjected to a trial. The offense must have been witnessed by two or more witnesses. See also Heb 10.28.

31 Moreover, you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death, but he shall be put to death. (Num 35:31)

All murderers must be put to death. Eye for an eye. Tooth for a tooth.

32 And you shall accept no ransom for him who has fled to his city of refuge, that he may return to dwell in the land before the death of the high priest. (Num 35:32)

For those who have fled to a city of refuge and are not condemned of murder, but rather manslaughter. They must still be punished and they cannot pay their way out of it. They must remain in the city of refuge for the life of the high priest. Only then can they leave. This is kind of like prison. They must serve their time in the city.
Now Moses describes the relationship between the people and the land living on it.

33 You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it. 34 You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell, for I the LORD dwell in the midst of the people of Israel.” (Num 35:33–34)

Moses says, blood pollutes the land. Which is a strange notion for us today, that people’s sins can make the land unclean. More so, no atonement can be made for the land, except for the person who has polluted it. The land can only be made clean again if the murderer dies and sheds his own blood on it.
The LORD commands the people not to defile the land in which they live because he dwells in its midst. Which is strange considering they are commanded to devote the inhabitants to destruction when they enter.
The LORD reinforces his point that he dwells in the land among his people. Therefore they must remain clean and holy.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.
A similar point is made with David. David will be restricted from building the temple of the LORD because of all the wars he has fought. Instead after his death his son will build the temple in a time of peace.

Story of Jesus

Following the death and resurrection of Jesus. Peter encouraged his audience with words of the passing away of this world.

3 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Pet 3:1–13)

We live in a fallen world. The land is polluted. The LORD’s plan is to see it dissolved and bring in new heavens and earth.

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