In Numbers 35:9-18, God goes into detail about the six murder refugee cities. He explains that there must be three on each side of the Jordan River, which I assume means he wants them spread evenly throughout the Promised Land, but as usual, God screws this up. Itís odd that he can be so micromanaging on something utterly useless, like what types of animals not to eat, but when it comes to something important, like setting up a legal system, he phones it in. What if they chose three neighboring towns right across from each other on the Jordan? Then all three towns would be within spitting distance, ruining the whole point.
God goes on to explain that these cities will serve as asylums for Israelites and foreigners alike who accidentally kill someone and are seeking protection. Weíll discuss the reason for this tomorrow, but for today letís reiterate what God says about the people who need the services of these cities. Itís assumed that only accidental murderers are allowed to use these cities for asylum because, as God explains, if the killing involved an instrument of iron, the throwing of a stone, or a weapon of wood, the killer isnít allowed into the city, and must be executed.
These three rules, like most of the bible, are incredibly provincial. Iron? What about bronze or copper? Throwing a stone? What about stabbing with a stone blade? Wooden weapons? What about killing someone with a wooden tool like a rake? Okay, despite the specific terminology, we can assume that death from any usage of metal, stone, or wood counts, but this is also incredibly narrow thinking because it doesnít take into account future technology like plastics, glass, metamaterials, and so on. Itís even more embarrassing when you consider the ancients would have been familiar with many other ways of killing people. Is it murder if someone was hanged by rope, poisoned with venom, or burned with fire? Why donít these types of death prohibit a killer from entering into an asylum city!
The worst part about all of this is that itís just assumed that if a person with killed by an iron instrument it had to have been murder. I guess, if two people are building a structure and an accident causes an iron bar to stab through and kill one of them, God says there is no need for a judicial hearing; it was an iron instrument, therefore that person must be put to death!
When it comes to a fair trial, I would gladly take manís law over Godís law!