Numbers 35 – Cities for Levites and Cities of Refuge


Numbers 35


Lacking a tribal inheritance, the Levites were spread around the holdings of the other tribes in specific cities. Six of these cities – three on each side of the Jordan – were to be cities of refuge for those accused of unintentional killing. 


The Levites were not afforded tribal land in the same process as the 12 tribes. Instead, they were given cities, and the lands surrounding those specific cities as an inheritance, fulfilling Jacob’s angry words that Levi would be scattered in Israel (Genesis 49:5-7). 

From north to south on the east side of the Jordan, the Levites received the cities of Golan, Ramoth, and Bezer. On the west side Kadesh, Shechem, and Hebron were to be sanctuary cities. If a person accidentally killed someone, they were to flee to the city of refuge before the kinsman-redeemer or blood avenger caught up with them. Once there, they were given a trial. If, indeed, the death was accidental, the one guilty of manslaughter had to stay in the city until the death of the high priest or face lethal revenge. If the person survived until after the death of the high priest, she or he was free to go without fear of revenge.