The chapter talks about the cities set aside as refuge cities.
It reminds me of the way the equity court, which started as religious courts in Britain, could soften the harshness of the common law.
This concerns the mosaic law that anyone who kills could be avenged by death at the hands of the family of the one killed. But what if the killing was not intentional: manslaughter or accidental killing?
You could go to these refuge cities and plead for shelter, and stay there until the current high priest died, whereupon you were free to return to your home without fear of recrimination.
This applied even to foreigners living among the Israelites.
The geographical selection of the cities and the roads built to them were designed to make it easy to escape vengeance if you needed to. None were more than a day’s journey from anywhere in the land, apparently.
It’s an example of God building this society on mercy and fairness. I suppose it has echos today in the idea of churches providing sanctuary.
The Psalmists would return again and again to the idea of God as their refuge. Here is God forging the theme from the founding of the promised land. Jesus would claim to be our hope.
After all the killing that has gone into claiming the promised land, this mercy is confronting and somewhat conflicting.
But as I concluded in the chapters about the conquest of the land, killing does not mean the same to the creator. Similar feeling to the rainbow that follows Noah’s flood. We all die, but not in vain if we end our days in god’s hope.