9 verses may be a new record for shortness. I’d combine this with the next one, but it’s Wednesday, and Monday and Wednesday are my insane days, with practicum, choir, and work.
This chapter just sets up the “cities of refuge” where accidental homicides stay for a certain period of time. They’re kind of like city-sized jails. You flee there, and if people come accusing you of murder, you’re safe until trial, where they have to prove intent. And then, if you’re found innocent, you stay until the high priest dies… which is a sort of random sentence length, but if everyone agrees on it, well.
I did a word-search for the different cities of refuge. Kedesh, Bezer, and Golan aren’t very important, but apparently later there’s a large battle at Ramoth in Gilead. Meanwhile Hebron was temporarily David’s capitol before he took Jerusalem, and Shechem was, for a time, the capitol of the northern kingdom. So apparently both those cities were pretty large. I wonder if they became large after they were made cities of refuge, or were chosen because they were already large settlements?
I also wonder whether cities of refuge actually existed, or if they’re an idealized situation. I certainly can’t imagine the Romans, for example, allowing that kind of legal system to continue going on during their occupation. Very quick wikipedia-ing (so take it with a grain of salt) indicates that fleeing to a sanctuary or altar in many cultures was enough to get your refuge, and the Israelites may have actually been trying to limit those laws by only choosing six such sanctuaries (thus why Shechem and Hebron, two major sacred sites, show up).
The Japanese: o tooshite “through, by way of” (v 2; didn’t know you could use it for a person), ito “intention, purpose” (v 3), izureka “any one of” (v 4), moukeru “to establish, to set up” (v 9).