The Cities of Refuge -- By: Charles Lee Feinberg

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 104:413 (Jan 1947)
Article: The Cities of Refuge
Author: Charles Lee Feinberg


The Cities of Refuge

Charles Lee Feinberg

(Concluded from the October-December Number, 1946)

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original were numbered from 18–36 but in this electronic edition are renumbered from 1–19 respectively.}

Other references to the asylum cities are Deuteronomy 4:41–43 and 19:1–13. Nicolsky1 claims that 19:8–10 is a later interpolation, because it breaks into the context of verses 7 and 11, and does not agree with Deuteronomy 4:41–43 where Moses set aside only three cities of refuge. He believes the addition of the verses was occasioned by the attempt to bring the stipulations of Deuteronomy into harmony with those of the so-called Priest Code (Numbers 35:13, 14; Joshua 20:7, 8). The elders of the city of the manslayer investigate the case, because he is answerable to their jurisdiction. But the elders of the respective city of refuge (to which the fugitive has fled) also examine the case according to Joshua 20:4–5. The elders of the city were a court which actually existed in the time of the monarchy.2 Nicolsky thinks that in view of the Deuteronomic reform of 621 B.C. and its character, the continuance of the right of asylum at the place sanctuaries after the centralization of worship is untenable.3 Staerk, however, takes a different position: for him asylum was always connected with a sanctuary or a place of numinous (pertaining to the divine force or power attributed to objects or beings regarded with awe) character; without this element asylum was impossible. Thus, if Deuteronomy stipulates certain cities of refuge, then cult cities must have been present and no centralization of worship ever took place. Nicolsky feels that Staerk has not taken into account the

difference in terminology between Exodus and Deuteronomy (מקום and עיר) and He claims that even if there were no Deuteronomic centralization of worship (as Staerk and his followers hold) yet ערי לנום can have but one meaning...

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