Numbers 35-36

Sunday Evening Bible Study

June 7, 1998


Israel has finished wandering in the wilderness for forty years, and is just about to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land.

Moses has been in the process of reviewing some important details before they move into the Promised Land.

Numbers 35

:1-3 Cities for Levites

:2 give unto the Levites of the inheritance of their possession

Earlier God had told Aaron:

NUM 18:20 Then the \Lord\ said to Aaron, "You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor own any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel.

This is all fine and well, that God is our inheritance, but how does that put food on the table? How does that put shoes on the kids' feet?

Even though the priests and Levites were not to have "family plots", or "family farms" that were passed down from generation to generation, they were to be taken care of. They were to be given cities to live in with pasture land around them. They could raise their cattle on the pasture lands


God meets real needs.

Sometimes we get into compartmentalizing our life. God is a spirit, and He only works in the spiritual realm, not the physical.

I can worship and have a wonderful time in the spirit. But after church, it's back to the real world.


God works very much in the physical world.

When Jesus and Peter came to Capernaum, they were faced with owing some tax money. Jesus said to Peter,

(Mat 17:27 KJV) Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

Jesus took care of the financial needs, but first think about what Peter’s profession was. He was a fisherman. How would he get the money? By going to work.

PHI 4:19 And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

:4-8 Pastures for Levites, cities from Israel

:4 a thousand cubits round about

or, 1500 feet (a little more than a quarter of a mile)

This is the length of the inside border of the pasture land.

:5 two thousand cubits

or, 3000 feet ( a little more than a half a mile)

This is the length of the outside of the pasture land.

:8 from them that have many ye shall give many

The tribes that had more land and more cities were to give more of their cities to the Levites.

A good example of proportional giving


Proportional giving.

When God asks us to give, it isn't a flat amount that applies to everyone.

God expects our giving to be in proportion to our substance.

If you have more, you give more. If you have less, you give less.

(1 Cor 16:2 KJV) Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

Sometimes we're "in the money", and we need to honor God and give from our abundance.

But sometimes we're hurting financially. Don't feel like you are supposed to come up with the same dollar amounts as when you're doing well financially.

Jesus was sitting near the place in the temple where people gave their money, and he pointed out the person who gave the most.

(Mark 12:42-44 KJV) And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. {43} And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: {44} For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

Someone said it's not how much you give that counts, it's how much you hold on to for yourself.

:9-15 Six cities of refuge

:11 the slayer

NAS has "manslayer". This is a person who has accidentally killed another person. The courts call it manslaughter.

:12 the avenger

Later this person will be called the "revenger of blood" (vs.19)

In those days, if you killed one of my sisters, even accidentally, I would be obligated to hunt you down and kill you for myself.

:12 until he stand before the congregation in judgment.

God was interested in justice.

God did not want the people taking the law into their own hands.

Each person was entitled to a trial to hear their case.

:15 three cities ... three cities ...may flee there

Where were they? (see Josh.20:7,8 for ref.)

The three cities on the east of the Jordan were Bezer in Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead from Gad, and Golan from Manasseh.

The three cities on the west of the Jordan were Kedesh in Galilee from Naphtali, Shechem from Ephraim, and Hebron from Judah.

The idea was to scatter the cities throughout Israel so that no matter where you were, you were never more than a day or two's journey from one of these cities of refuge.


You're never too far from God's help.

Here's David when he was fleeing from Saul and went to the land of the Philistines, too far from the cities of refuge (though they wouldn't have helped with Saul)

(Psa 34:1-8 KJV) A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed. I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. {2} My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. {3} O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. {4} I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. {5} They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. {6} This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. {7} The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. {8} O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth (NAS – takes refuge) in him.

A refuge is a place of safety.

You don't have to feel scared or uncertain. God wants to be your refuge.

:6 unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge

These six cities of refuge were to belong to the Levites. The Levites were the tribe that God had set aside to help out with the worship of the tabernacle. They were those involved in ministry.


Be a person of grace and refuge.

It seems to me that sometimes Christians can come across and pretty cold and judgmental.

Yet the people that God would be using in ministry, those who were chosen to help the priests (the Levites) were supposed to be the ones inhabiting the cities of refuge.

They were to be the ones who welcomed with open arms, those fleeing for their lives.

Do people feel comfortable coming to you with their problems? Do they feel like you’re going to be fair with them?

:16-21 Definitions of murder

:16-18 with an iron object ... stone ... wooden object

Use of a deadly weapon.

Part of the formula to differentiate between murder and manslaughter was whether the use of a deadly weapon was involved.

You normally can't take a gun, load it, aim it, fire it, and then say it was just an accident.

This isn't all that's involved though.

Obviously if a person was defending himself after first being attacked, or some kind of accident.

:19 The revenger of blood himself

The revenger of blood is the one who would carry out the punishment when the death was judged a murder.


:20-21 hatred ... laying of wait ... hatred

Here's another part of the murder formula.

Killing with a motive

If a person died by your hand, and it is found out that you hated that person's guts, you're in trouble!

:22-28 Definitions of manslaughter

:24 the congregation shall judge

This isn't always as easy as it seems.

I’ve served on a couple of trial juries, and it seems like going into a trial you have your first impressions, which can be TOTALLY wrong.


To judge or not to judge

Is "judging" contrary to the New Testament? Didn't Jesus say...

MAT 7:1 "Do not judge lest you be judged.


A. Judgment belongs to God

For the most part we are unable to accurately judge many situations

1. We don't really know a person's motives.

1CO 4:3-5 But to me it is a very small thing that I should be examined by you, or by {any} human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. 4 For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. 5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, {but wait} until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of {men's} hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God.

2. We're pretty biased judges.

The things that bother us most about some people are the very problems we have ourselves.

MAT 7:1-5 "Do not judge lest you be judged. 2 "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 "And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

3. We don't see the whole picture.

PRO 18:13 He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.

B. Judging is appropriate when God places it in our hands

1. Civil law matters

In our current passage, God is making is clear that He expects the congregation to pass judgment on these situations.

2. Internal church disputes

1CO 6:1-6 Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you not competent {to constitute} the smallest law courts? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, matters of this life? 4 If then you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? 5 I say {this} to your shame. {Is it} so, {that} there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, 6 but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?

3. Fruit inspection

Notice what follows just a few verses after Jesus talking about judging others.

MAT 7:15-20 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn {bushes,} nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 "A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 "So then, you will know them by their fruits.

It's a fine line we have to walk sometimes.

We can't always know people's motives, but are taught to observe and take note of their fruit, what comes out of their lives.

When someone has been telling you that they are your friend, yet their actions don't match their words, you need to pay attention!

:25 until the death of the high priest

It has been suggested that this might be a faint picture of Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest. The sins of a manslayer couldn’t be forgiven until the death of the high priest.

One commentator wrote that one of the results of this was that –

that the mothers of the priests used to supply with a sufficient quantity of food and raiment such who fled to the cities of refuge, that they might not pray for the death of their sons (Gill)

It was kind of a prison system.

You would be a captive in your city of refuge. But instead of having a certain numbers of years to serve, you had to wait until the death of the high priest.

For some that would be a few years. For others, that might mean a lifetime sentence.

If you committed manslaughter, and an old 60 year old guy like Jehoiada is the high priest, you might think you’ve got it made, until it turns out that Jehoiada would live to be 130 years old!

It kind of put things into the hands of God.

:27 he shall not be guilty of blood

In other words, if the manslayer was not abiding under the rules, and left his city of refuge, he is open to capital punishment.

The one who puts the guilty party to death is not guilty of blood.

:28 after the death of the high priest

Then the sentence was over. The manslayer could go home and was not a target anymore of the avenger.

:29-34 Law of witnesses; purge the land of blood

:30 one witness shall not testify

It always took two or more witnesses to convict a person of murder.

:31 ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer

NAS – "you shall not take ransom"

In other words, a murderer could not buy his way out of his sentence.

There was nothing that he could do once found guilty, he was to die.

:32 take no satisfaction for him that is fled

In other words, a person convicted of manslaughter also could not buy his way out of his imprisonment in the city of refuge.

:33 for blood it defileth the land

The only way for a country not to be polluted by the blood spilt by murderers, is to put to death those convicted of murder.

ISA 24:4-6 The earth mourns {and} withers, the world fades {and} withers, the exalted of the people of the earth fade away. 5 The earth is also polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant. 6 Therefore, a curse devours the earth, and those who live in it are held guilty. Therefore, the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left.

Do you think our country is polluted?

We've heard it said by Billy Graham that if God doesn't judge America, He'll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.

Numbers 36

:1-4 The potential Zelophehad problem

:4 when the jubile of the children of Israel shall be,

Every fifty years the Jubilee came. (Lev.25)

All debts were to be forgiven.

Any land that was sold was to be returned to the original family.

Yet apparently land could be lost if it was acquired by marriage.

:4 so shall their inheritance be taken away

In Num.27, we saw the daughters of Zelophehad coming to Moses with a problem.

Their father had died in the wilderness without leaving any sons, yet they wanted to have an inheritance in the Promised Land like everyone else.

God had ruled that if there are no sons, that a daughter can inherit a father’s property, and so these gals would inherit the share that would have gone to their father.

But now these leaders, of the same tribe as Zelophehad, were concerned that if these daughters of Zelophehad married someone from another tribe, then the land that would have been in the tribe of Manasseh would now transfer to the other tribe.

:5-9 Restrictions for the daughters of Zelophehad

:6 they must marry within the family ...

This has nothing to do with inter-racial marriages or that kind of stuff.

This has to do with passing on the family inheritance in the Promised Land.

These were the gals of the Promised Land. They wanted the promises that God had for them. But along with those promises are going to come some restrictions.

If they wanted to marry, they would have to marry within the tribe, so the land would stay within the tribe.


If you want to be a promise receiver, you've got to accept the restrictions as well.

There are lots of incredible, wonderful promises that God has for us.

But some of these promises require that we follow some restrictions in order to receive them.

It’s just like the principle of "borders" we talked about in Numbers 34. God has some limits for His children.

Example – God’s Peace

We’d all like to have a sense of peace in our lives. But there’s some restrictions to receiving the promise of peace:

(Phil 4:6-9 KJV) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. {7} And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. {8} Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. {9} Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.


Your thought life.

:7 no inheritance shall be transferred

God didn't want families giving away their inheritance.

A major theme running through the Old Testament is the idea of the family inheritance.

It was the plot of land that was given to your family all the way back in the days of Joshua.

God wanted families to have an inheritance to pass on from generation to generation.

That was one of the reasons for the "jubilee". It ensured that every fifty years, your family regained their piece of land if for some reason they happened to sell it off.


Family Heritage.

It's what I pass on to my children.

It's raising them to know the Lord and experience all the joy and blessings of walking with God.

I want to be careful that the way I am guiding my family doesn't lead them further from the Lord, but closer to Him.

Say I receive a job offer out of state, better money, better position, but no healthy churches around.

Is it better for me to go for the world's standards of climbing the corporate ladder, or taking care of the spiritual welfare of my family?

Don't jeopardize your inheritance

:10-13 They did it!

:10 Just as the Lord had commanded ... they did

These gals wanted the Promised Land.

They did it God's way.