Forty-eight entire cities are to be given to the Levites 6 as murder refugee sites, and an additional 42 to support their hardships of accepting free meals, free money, and free land. Itís good to be Godís elect!
Tomorrow Iíll explain more about the refugee cities for murderers that God mentioned, but for today I just want to focus on the amount of land the Levites will be allotted in Numbers 35:6-8. Remember last week where God said the Levites would have, not just the cities, but 3,000 cubits of land in each direction from each city? Well, this allows us to do some math to figure out just how much of the Promised Land is owned by the Levites after the invasion.
There are around 450 meters to 1,000 cubits, which means that God is giving the Levites around 1,350 meters in each direction for each town. Thatís a square with 2,700 meters long sides, but weíre forgetting the town itself which increases our final value. Trouble is, we donít know the sizes of each of the 48 cities. Were they tiny hamlets, teeming metropolises, something in the middle? Unfortunately, there is nothing in the bible to give us this information, so weíll have to guess. Iím going to work with what I feel is a conservative estimate and assume each city is a square with 1,000 meter sides (about the size of a tightly-packed 18-hole golf course). Extrapolating from the last census, there are around 50,000 Levites, which means that each city will have to hold a little over 1,000 people into a square with 3,700 meter sides. A seven-by-seven gird of these cities would be like a square with 25,900 meter sides. As you can see from the diagram, that accounts for a hefty chunk of the Promised Land.
Of course, a lot of those cities were probably considerably larger, and since they were spread around the land, they would effectively take up even more space. The take home of this is, God rewarded the Levites with huge tracks of land for absolutely no reason other than he really liked some of their great-great-great-grandfathers.