Cities of Refuge

May 19, 2016

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה בְּעַרְבֹת מוֹאָב עַל־יַרְדֵּן יְרֵחוֹ לֵאמֹר׃

Hashem spoke to Moshe in the steppes of Moab at the Yarden near Yericho, saying:

Numbers 35:1

וְעַתָּה יִשְׂרָאֵל שְׁמַע אֶל־הַחֻקִּים וְאֶל־הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְלַמֵּד אֶתְכֶם לַעֲשׂוֹת לְמַעַן תִּחְיוּ וּבָאתֶם וִירִשְׁתֶּם אֶת־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֵיכֶם נֹתֵן לָכֶם׃

And now, O Yisrael, give heed to the laws and rules that I am instructing you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that Hashem, the God of your fathers, is giving you.

v'-a-TAH yis-ra-AYL sh'-MA el ha-khu-KEEM v'-el ha-mish-pa-TEEM a-SHER a-no-KHEE m'-la-MAYD et-KHEM la-a-SOT l'-MA-an tikh-YU u-VA-tem vee-rish-TEM et ha-A-retz a-SHER a-do-NAI e-lo-HAY a-vo-tay-KHEM no-TAYN la-KHEM

Deuteronomy 4:1

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁעַ לֵאמֹר׃

When they had finished dividing the land, Hashem said to Yehoshua:

Joshua 20:1

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A city of refuge in the Torah is a place where someone who murdered unintentionally can seek asylum.  God commanded the Israelites to set aside six Levitical cities in the Land of Israel to be cities of refuge.  Three of those cities were to be on the west side of the Jordan River, and three on the east side (Numbers 35:9-15).


The three cities of refuge on the east of the Jordan River were set aside by Moshe (Deuteronomy 4:41-43).  They were:

  1. Bezer in the land of Reuven
  2. Ramoth-Gilead in the land of Gad
  3. Golan in the land of Menashe


The three cities of refuge on the west side of the Jordan River were set aside by Yehoshua (Joshua 20:7).  They were:

  1. Kedesh in the land of Naftali
  2. Shechem in the land of Efraim
  3. Kiryat Arba/Chevron in the land of Yehuda


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