Posts Tagged 'Refuge'

Deuteronomy Chapter 19

In chapter 17 of Deuteronomy, Moses reminded the Israelites of the importance of having righteous leaders. Specifically, he taught them the importance of judges who would do their duty without prejudice and according to the laws of God. It was important that they remembered to carry out judgements of God’s established laws, in a manner that was pleasing to God. Only then, would they continue to be led by the spirit of the Lord. Moses continues the teachings of the Lord, with regard to how they were to handle some of those individuals judged as guilty by the law.

1 When the Lord thy God hath cut off the nations, whose land the Lord thy God giveth thee, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their cities, and in their houses;
2 Thou shalt separate three cities for thee in the midst of thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.
3 Thou shalt prepare thee a way, and divide the coasts of thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee to inherit, into three parts, that every slayer may flee thither.

After becoming established in a land free of other nations, they were to create three cities of refuge within the land. These three cities were to be established with roads and borders. They were for those who had committed manslaughter.

4 And this is the case of the slayer, which shall flee thither, that he may live: Whoso killeth his neighbour ignorantly, whom he hated not in time past;
5 As when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbour to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbour, that he die; he shall flee unto one of those cities, and live:
6 Lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and slay him; whereas he was not worthy of death, inasmuch as he hated him not in time past.
7 Wherefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt separate three cities for thee.
8 And if the Lord thy God enlarge thy coast, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, and give thee all the land which he promised to give unto thy fathers;
9 If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the Lord thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three:
10 That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.

Those who had a place in the cities of refuge, were they who had ignorantly or accidentally killed another, without any premeditation or the intention to murder another. An example of manslaughter is given, where two men are chopping down a tree, and the axe slips from one man’s hand and kills the other accidentally. Those convicted of manslaughter could go to a city of refuge and live without fear of the death being avenged by an angry family member or friend. This because manslaughter was not a crime worthy of death according to God. If the Lord blessed them with more land, they were to add more cities of refuge. God did not want innocent blood shed in the land of promise, which would make them unworthy of the land.

11 But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities:
12 Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.
13 Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.

If a person murdered in cold-blood and then escaped to the city of refuge, the leaders were to take him out of that city. All murderers were to be put to death and not shown pity when they were found guilty. If they did not follow through with this, the people would be held accountable for their choice.

14 Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.

The people were not to remove the landmarks left in the land from old times. I believe that the word landmarks is the marks of boundary on the land. The Israelites were not to decide for themselves how they should change the boundaries of their inheritances, but were to leave them as they were first divided in the land.

15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

If only one witness spoke against another person, they could not be judged for that thing. All cases were to be judged bases on the words of two or three witnesses. The Lord has been consistent in the law of witnesses throughout time. In the time of the restoration of the church, the Lord said, “and in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established”. (Doctrine and Covenants 6:28) Witnesses are so important to our being able to know truth from those things that are false. Most important, is the witness we can receive from the spirit of the Lord, which is undeniable by our own spirit, and if we listen, He will teach us what is true.

16 If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong;
17 Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days;
18 And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother;
19 Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.
20 And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.
21 And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

False witnesses were to be judged along with those they testified against. The judges and elders of Israel, were to look hard at the details of the case and decide if the witness was being truthful. If the witness was found to be lying, then he would be judged guilty in the matter and receive the punishment that he had hoped for the one was innocent. As a result, those who were seeking that another be falsely accused and receive punishment, would receive that punishment equally. In doing so, the leaders of Israel would show to the rest of the people, that anyone who bore false witness against another would be held accountable.

The act of intentionally murdering another person, is never right. God established the law against murder, long before the Isrealites existed. Cain was cursed and cast away from the presence of the Lord, when he committed the first murder (Genesis 4:8, 11, 14; see also Moses 5:32, 36, 39). The law is specifically stated in Genesis 9:6, when we read the law as given to Noah’s generation, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” Then it was established with the Israelites, when Moses first brought them the ten commandments. In Exodus 20:13 we read, “Thou shalt not kill.” Any man who was guilty of murder was rightfully to be put to death, by the standards of the Lord. The Lord has re-established His law in our day as well. In Doctrine and Covenants 42, we read the following:

18 And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come.
19 And again, I say, thou shalt not kill; but he that killeth shall die.

Any person who murders another of God’s children, will be held accountable by God for their sin. Whether or not they are not punished in this life for their crime, they will be judged appropriately at the judgement seat of the Lord and all will be made right by God.

Just as all kings and their rulings, and judges and their judgments, were to be just and righteous, all the punishments for those guilty, were to be just and righteous. When men are punished for accidents, or innocent men are convicted of crimes, there is little hope in the law for those who are trying to live good lives. This kind of government leads to chaos, rebellion, and falling away from those things that are good and true. It was so important for the Israelites to remember these things, so that they could remain faithful to the Lord. It is important for these things today as well. When good laws are established to maintain freedoms and allow people the ability to righteously follow their beliefs, it gives men the ability to openly follow after the Lord. When governments choose to altar these good things, for their own purposes, one things leads to another and apostasy is sure to follow. Those who are striving to live a life of righteousness, need to do all that they are able to ensure that those who are leading them are protecting the freedoms and the good laws of the land.

Numbers Chapter 35

As the Israelites were in their final moments of preparation for entering the land of promise, the Lord commanded Moses of several things he was to say to the people. They had reminders of the offerings and sacrifices they were to remember when they settled the land. They had also been given instruction on where the borders of the land were to be, and who would be responsible for dividing the land. As the tribe responsible for the tabernacle and its purposes, the Levites had already been told they would not receive an inheritance as the rest of the tribes of Israel. In this chapter, the Lord begins by giving instruction for what should be done for the Levites.

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,
2 Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the Levites of the inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in; and ye shall give also unto the Levites suburbs for the cities round about them.
3 And the cities shall they have to dwell in; and the suburbs of them shall be for their cattle, and for their goods, and for all their beasts.
4 And the suburbs of the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits round about.
5 And ye shall measure from without the city on the east side two thousand cubits, and on the south side two thousand cubits, and on the west side two thousand cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits; and the city shall be in the midst: this shall be to them the suburbs of the cities.
6 And among the cities which ye shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee thither: and to them ye shall add forty and two cities.
7 So all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites shall be forty and eight cities: them shall ye give with their suburbs.
8 And the cities which ye shall give shall be of the possession of the children of Israel: from them that have many ye shall give many; but from them that have few ye shall give few: every one shall give of his cities unto the Levites according to his inheritance which he inheriteth.

The Levites were to receive a portion of the land inherited by the other tribes. There they would have 48 cities. They were to have six cities, which were to be designated as a refuge for those who were guilty of manslaughter. This was a place for those who had not meant to kill, but had done so, to have a place to live. The remaining 42 cities were for the Levites to live in, with the fields and such surrounding them. The larger tribes, with the larger inheritance, were to give more cities than the smaller tribes with the smaller inheritance.

9 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan;
11 Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares.
12 And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment.
13 And of these cities which ye shall give six cities shall ye have for refuge.
14 Ye shall give three cities on this side Jordan, and three cities shall ye give in the land of Canaan, which shall be cities of refuge.
15 These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither.

Moses was to tell the people that the six cities were for those, Israelite or stranger, who unknowingly killed another. These were refuge places where those who might seek revenge, would not be able to get to them. They would be able to live until the day they receive judgment for what they had done. Three of these cities were to be located on the eastern side of the Jordan, where the first inheritances had already been given, and three were to be in Canaan.

16 And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.
17 And if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.
18 Or if he smite him with an hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.
19 The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him.
20 But if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die;
21 Or in enmity smite him with his hand, that he die: he that smote him shall surely be put to death; for he is a murderer: the revenger of blood shall slay the murderer, when he meeteth him.
22 But if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon him any thing without laying of wait,
23 Or with any stone, wherewith a man may die, seeing him not, and cast it upon him, that he die, and was not his enemy, neither sought his harm:
24 Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments:
25 And the congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the revenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to the city of his refuge, whither he was fled: and he shall abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which was anointed with the holy oil.
26 But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled;
27 And the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood:
28 Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession.

If someone killed with an actual weapon of iron, this was to be seen as murder. If someone killed another by stoning, I am assuming without the proper right to do so, this was also murder. If one killed with a wooden weapon intended to kill, it was murder. All these murderers were to be put to death, at the hand of one who would be considered the revenger of blood. If the revenger, did so by plotting and seeking out their revenge, they would have committed murder as well, and were to be put to death. There was a proper way that the capital punishment, of that day, was to be performed. Anything else, was also considered murder.

In the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 9, we read the following:

12 And whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for man shall not shed the blood of man.
13 For a commandment I give, that every man’s brother shall preserve the life of man, for in mine own image have I made man.

The Lord had commanded men that those who killed were to be put to death, from very early in the history of the world. This, it seems, was so that all men would realize the value that the Lord has had for the life of man. The final judgement for any who deliberately killed another, is up to God, and the Israelites were not given the authority change the consequences of that action. If, however, a killing occurred, without the intent to kill, the person was not called a murderer and was to be allowed refuge in one of the cities where any revenger would not be able to harm them. Those guilty of manslaughter, were able to live in the city of refuge until the current high priest died. This was for their safety, but was also like a type of prison for the day. If they left the city of refuge, they were at their own risk of being killed by anyone who wanted revenge. If they were killed out of revenge at this point, the murderer would not be found guilty. When the high priest had died, the person guilty of manslaughter was allowed to return to his home.

29 So these things shall be for a statute of judgment unto you throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
30 Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.
31 Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.
32 And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest.
33 So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.
34 Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the Lord dwell among the children of Israel.

A person could be claimed guilty, by the words of more than one witness. The rest of the Israelites, were not to take a ransom for anyone who had intentionally killed another, but were to put them to death. They were not to allow someone guilty of manslaughter, to live in their own land of inheritance, but were to make sure they went into the city of refuge until the death of the high priest. Only those who committed the crimes, could be held responsible for them, and could keep the land unpolluted by receiving the proper punishment and making their own atonement for that blood. The land was to remain clean, so that the spirit of the Lord could dwell among them. Otherwise, destruction would come upon them, as it had those who lived in the land prior to them.

The commandment not to kill, has been established and of importance since the days of Adam and Eve. It remains a commandment today and should not be taken lightly. I think that from this chapter, we can learn the purpose of a capital punishment for murder, and that there is a point to it. Also, because accidents occur, it was important for the Lord to establish a set of conditions for those who never meant to kill. These instructions and commandments, were to help those who had killed another, to receive the proper consequence in life, and to leave the real and final judgement to the Lord. It is good for us to have and live by the Lord’s laws and consequences established for us in our own day, because through them we find safety and can also remain worthy of the spirit of the Lord among us.

3 Nephi, Chapter 22

How are the stakes of Zion a “refuge from the storm”?

“And then shall that which is written come to pass: Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child; for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord (v. 1).  Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thy habitations; spare not, lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes (v. 2); For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left, and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles and make the desolate cities to be inhabited (v. 3).”  The Lord is comparing Zion to a tent.  The reason the cords need to lengthened and the stakes strengthened is because these things make the tent larger.  Zion’s stakes need to be strengthened because the church would grow greatly in these last days.

In D&C 115:5-6 we read, “Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations (v. 5); And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth (v. 6).”  Today, the stakes are for the defense and refuge of the church.  We need spiritual defense because the adversary is fighting hard to bring the righteous down to his level.  We need a spiritual refuge because the world is so harsh and difficult these days.  The storms of life are beating the righteous down and we need the strength of the stakes of Zion to keep us together and to stand strong in the face of all of it.

Why is the Savior referred to as a husband in these verses?

When I met my husband, I was attracted to his intelligence and his strength of character.  He was truly a good guy, when I was surrounded by guys who were crude, immoral, unkind and so on.  He did not judge me for my mistakes as so many people in my past had, and he loved me more than anyone else had.  These are just a few of the reasons that I decided to marry him.

“Fear not, for thou shalt not be ashamed; neither be thou confounded, for thou shalt not be put to shame; for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more (v. 4).  For thy maker, thy husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel—the God of the whole earth shall he be called (v. 5).  For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God (v. 6).”  The Lord is the husband and the house of Israel is the wife.  I think that this relationship was chosen to represent the Lord’s relationship to the house of Israel because it shows His choice to love the house of Israel.  A husband is devoted to his wife and should be willing to give more than his all to support, love, and care for his wife.  The wife should be willing to do the same.  A husband and wife work together to accomplish common goals, ultimately gaining exaltation together.  The Lord will give His all to do these things for us and we should want to do them for the Lord in return.

“For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee (v. 7).  In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer (v. 8 ).”  The Lords kindness is everlasting and his wrath is for a small moment.  He will not be angry with the children of Israel forever, because he loves us.  He promises not to destroy the children of Israel by water again, because He loves us (v. 9).  He shows kindness mercy towards us, because He loves us (v. 10).  He blesses us, because He loves us (v. 11).  And He does all that he can to help us, because He loves us (v. 12).

Those who choose to live in Zion will receive many promised blessings from the Lord.  “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children (v. 13).  In righteousness shalt thou be established; thou shalt be far from oppression for thou shalt not fear, and from terror for it shall not come near thee (v. 14).  Behold, they shall surely gather together against thee, not by me; whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake (v. 15).  Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy (v. 16).  No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall revile against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord (v. 17).” Zion will be a place of peace and happiness.  No oppression will be felt there and no enemies will fight them and be able to win.  What a blessing it will be for those who are able to experience Zion.


About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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