The Cities of Refuge Law in Numbers 35:9–34: A Study of its Sources, Textual Unity and Relationship to Deuteronomy 19:1–13

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Over the years, scholars have examined the Priestly version of the cities of refuge law in Numbers 35:9–34 from every conceivable aspect, resulting in varied analyses.1 One of the most prominent topics in this literature is the relationship between this passage and related material in Exodus (21:12–14), Deuteronomy (4:41–43; 19:1–13), and Joshua (20:1–9). This article intends to contribute to the textual analysis of Num 35:9–34 by focusing on several issues that, in my estimation, have yet to receive their proper due. The detailed analysis of the cities of refuge passage in Numbers lays the groundwork for further examination of its relationship with the other biblical material on this theme, especially the law in
Deut 19:1–13. The asylum law in Num 35 opens with an instruction for the Israelites to establish cities of refuge; three on each side of the Jordan River (vv. 9–15). The text then articulates the distinction between killers who are sentenced to death and those who are not (vv. 16–23). The next six verses elaborate on the legal rights of the latter category (vv. 24–29).2 This section concludes with a discussion of related issues (vv. 30–34).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-264
Number of pages16
JournalZeitschrift für altorientalische und biblische Rechtsgeschichte
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

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