The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Joshua 20

Jos 20:1

Jos 20: The 6 cities of refuge could protect individuals for a lifetime, but not for eternity. This could be done only by the 7th city of refuge, ie Zion: Isa 26:1. We are safe in God's city (Eph 2:18-22) becs our High Priest Jesus lives forever. Also, cp 7 cities of refuge to the 7-branched lampstand.

Jos 20:2

These six cities of refuge could guarantee one's life for a time, but not for eternity. This only the seventh city of refuge (that is, Zion: Exo 21:13,14) can do. "We have a strong city, salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks" (Isa 26:1).

With three cities west of Jordan, and three east, spaced out from north to south, and the seventh city of refuge being Jerusalem, in the approximate center of the land, the whole seven cities of refuge may be compared, roughly, to the seven-branched lampstand, or menorah.

In the land of Canaan, cities of refuge were so arranged, that any man might reach one of them within half a day at the most. The main roads leading to each of the cities were strictly preserved, every river was bridged, and every obstruction removed, so that the man who fled might find an unimpeded path to the refuge. Once a year the city elders went along the roads and inspected them -- nothing must cause the fugitive, through delay, to be overtaken and slain. How wonderfully do the promises of the gospel remove stumbling blocks from the way! Wherever there were side-roads and forks, there were erected signposts, with the inscription upon them -- "This way to the city of refuge!"

Likewise, every ecclesia -- and every member of every ecclesia -- ought to stand ready to direct every "fugitive" to the ultimate place of safety. Signs should be erected, and nothing should be allowed to stand in the way: "This is the way to the cross of Christ, and to the gospel of saving truth. 'Come unto Christ, and you will find rest!' '

Jos 20:3

Even the "accident" of mortality is fully requited in flight to Christ, the place of refuge for mortal man (Xd 116:448). "O LORD; I say, You are my refuge'... Rescue me from those who pursue me" (Psa 142:4-6). "At the hand of every man's bro will I require the life of man" (Gen 9:5,6).

Jos 20:4

PLACE: Heb marom, a "holy place".

Jos 20:6

BEFORE THE ASSEMBLY: He must return to the city where the accident occurred, to appear in open court (Num 35:12,24,25).

UNTIL THE DEATH OF THE HIGH PRIEST: As long as the High Priest lived, the fugitive was safe in the city (Heb 6:18. But we are safe forever in God's city (Eph 2:18-22)... becs Christ our High Priest lives forever. "As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit" (Zec 9:11).

Jos 20:7

SET APART: Lit, "kedesh Kadesh", a pun!

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