Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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JOSUE - Chapter 20

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Josue xx.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 3. Of blood, and authorized to kill the manslayer, (Menochius) if he find him out of one of these cities. See Numbers xxxv. 6., and Deuteronomy xix. 4. Revenge was never lawful: but to prosecute offenders in the courts of justice, (Calmet) or agreeably to the law of God, can never deserve blame. (Haydock) --- If some of the saints of the old law seem to have taken delight in revenge, their expressions must be explained in a favourable sense. David, who is accused of this crime, (Calmet) repels the charge with horror, Psalm vii. 5. The evils which he denounces to his adversaries, were predictions of what they had reason to expect, Psalm lvii. 11., and Jeremias xi. 20. (Haydock) --- If some of the Jews looked upon vengeance as lawful, it cannot be a matter of surprise, when we reflect that even some, who have been taught the mild law of the gospel, think themselves bound, in some cases, to revenge an affront. (Calmet) --- So far have the maxims of the world supplanted Christianity in their breasts! How severely does Jacob rebuke his children for what they had done to the Sichemites, though they falsely thought that the affront offered to their sister, would justify them! (Genesis xxxiv.) (Haydock)

Ver. 4. Gate, where justice was administered. (Menochius) --- Here the ancients heard what the manslayer had to say in his own defence; and if they thought his account plausible, they gave him a retreat till he might be safely brought to answer the charges of the avenger, who might endeavour to prove that the murder was wilful.

Ver. 5. Before. This is generally taken literally. But if sufficient proof could be brought that the contending parties were at variance, or reconciled some time before the accident happened, the person who had taken refuge, would be judged accordingly. It might lawfully be presumed that they were enemies, if, after being at variance, they had given no signs of reconciliation. (Calmet)

Ver. 6. Fact. Septuagint, "before the synagogue for judgment." (Haydock) --- Whether this took place in the same city, or where the murder was committed, (see Numbers xxxv. 12, 25.) the reasons are given why the manslayer was released at the death of the high priest. (Calmet) --- By the death of Christ, the greatest criminals are redeemed. (Menochius)

Ver. 7. Cedes and Gaulon lay on the north, Sichem and Ramoth in the middle, Hebron and Bosor on the south of the country. (Haydock)

Ver. 9. Strangers. The limitations of the Jews in favour of their own nation are rejected. The civil and criminal law should affect all alike, except God order it otherwise. --- Stand. This was the posture of the people accused, while the judges sat. (Drusius) (Calmet)

 


Bible Text & Cross-references:

The cities of refuge are appointed for casual manslaughter.

1 And *the Lord spoke to Josue, saying: Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them:

2 Appoint cities of refuge, *of which I spoke to you by the hand of Moses:

3 That whosoever shall kill a person unawares may flee to them: and may escape the wrath of the kinsman, who is the avenger of blood:

4 And when he shall flee to one of these cities: he shall stand before the gate of the city, and shall speak to the ancients of that city, such things, as prove him innocent: and so they shall receive him, and give him a place to dwell in.

5 And when the avenger of blood shall pursue him, they shall not deliver him into his hands, because he slew his neighbour unawares, and is not proved to have been his enemy two or three days before.

6 And he shall dwell in that city, till he stand before judgment to give an account of his fact, and till the death of the high-priest, who shall be at that time: then shall the manslayer return, and go into his own city and house from whence he fled.

7 And they appointed Cedes in Galilee, of Mount Nephthali, and Sichem in Mount Ephraim, and Cariath-arbe, the same is Hebron in the mountain of Juda.

8 And beyond the Jordan to the east of Jericho, *they appointed Bosor, which is upon the plain of the wilderness of the tribe of Ruben, and Ramoth in Galaad of the tribe of Gad, and Gaulon in Basan of the tribe of Manasses.

9 These cities were appointed for all the children of Israel, and for the strangers that dwelt among them: that whosoever had killed a person unawares might flee to them, and not die by the hand of the kinsman, coveting to revenge the blood that was shed, until he should stand before the people to lay open his cause.

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*

1: Year of the World 2562, Year before Christ 1442.

2: Numbers xxxv. 10.; Deuteronomy xix. 2.

8: Deuteronomy iv. 43.