Accidents happen, and vengeful people happen

Joshua Bible Background

03.27.2016 Old Testament: Jos 20.1–6

To read the Bible in a year, read Joshua 19–20 on March 27, In the year of our Lord 2016

By Don Ruhl

The Lord knows that in the daily affairs of men, things happen, and people get hurt, or even die because of accidents. However, the surviving family initially hears that someone hurt their family member, and the rage inside may cause them to pursue and to kill the one who hurt the family member. Therefore, the Lord set up places where a person could go until the matter had been settled,

The LORD also spoke to Joshua, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Appoint for yourselves cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, that the slayer who kills a person accidentally or unintentionally may flee there; and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood. And when he flees to one of those cities, and stands at the entrance of the gate of the city, and declares his case in the hearing of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city as one of them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them. Then if the avenger of blood pursues him, they shall not deliver the slayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor unintentionally, but did not hate him beforehand. And he shall dwell in that city until he stands before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the one who is high priest in those days. Then the slayer may return and come to his own city and his own house, to the city from which he fled’” (Joshua 20.1–6).

The Lord Himself instituted the death penalty for a murderer, but He did not want anyone to die when it was not necessary. Therefore, in His great thoughts toward Israel, and thereby setting an example for the world, He made provisions for the one who accidentally killed another person.


  • Has a stranger ever hurt one of your family members?
  • Before you did anything about it, did you find out whether it was intentional or unintentional?

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