In what can only be described as ďasinine justiceĒ Numbers 35:22-29 explains how to handle what we would now call involuntary manslaughter. Since a death has occurred, the authors automatically expect that people will be out seeking revenge against the killer. A local congregation is expected to pass judgment on the killer to determine if the death was accidental or not. If they rule that it wasnít an accident, revenge is assumed to be carried out and we get a nice long series of murders that will slowly wipe out two entire families. However, if the congregation deems him innocent, he will be allowed to flee to one of the six refuge cities. Naturally, heíll want to hurry, because there is probably still a blood-thirsty posse on his trail! If the killer is able to get to the refuge city before heís brutally murdered on the roadside, the city is expected to keep him safe as long as he stays within the city walls. If he ever leaves the city, even many years later, he is fair game to those seeking blood vengeance, even though a tribunal has agreed that the entire thing was an accident.
It is explained by God that the killer can eventually leave, but only after the cityís head priest dies, as if that were somehow relevant to the case! Once the priest dies, the killerís exile period is up, he may return home, and blood vengeance can no longer safely be committed against him. Of course, since the lifespan of the head priest is a completely arbitrary length of time, some killers will be stuck in the city for the rest of their lives, while others may end up being able to leave the very same day.
Having people murdering each other as a method of solving disputes and using an arbitrary length of time on a very lax form of house arrest is probably one of the worst possible ways to handle manslaughter. To the bibleís credit, itís nice that they make a distinction between purposeful murder and accidental death, although, the Greek lawmaker Draco was writing about manslaughter back in 600 BCE, about 150 years before Numbers was finalized.
Numbers 35:29 points out that this method of handling the law is expected to be followed regardless of where the Israelites live (good luck getting around local laws!), and all throughout their. Naturally, anyone who follows law like this would deservedly be called a barbarian.