(4) ‘And this is the matter of the man-slayer who fleeth thither, and hath lived: He who smiteth his neighbour unknowingly, and is not hating him heretofore,Deu 19:4-7
(5) even he who cometh in with his neighbour into a forest to hew wood, and his hand hath driven with an axe to cut the tree, and the iron hath slipped from the wood, and hath met his neighbour, and he hath died—he doth flee unto one of these cities, and hath lived,
(6) lest the redeemer of blood pursue after the man-slayer when his heart is hot, and hath overtaken him (because the way is great), and hath smitten him—the life, and he hath no sentence of death, for he is not hating him heretofore;
(7) therefore I am commanding thee, saying, Three cities thou dost separate to thee.
This passage describes how the nation of Israel was to deal with circumstances where someone was killed but the death was accidental and not premeditated but caused by a person. God designated that there would be cities of refuge where such a person could go and live a relatively normal life without fear of a “redeemer of blood” pursuing and avenging the death. This term “redeemer of blood” has been the subject of some debate. Some think it means a close kinsman who takes on the role. Others think of it as a town executor. Either way, if it was determined that the person was innocent, he could be protected for an extended period of time by staying in that city of refuge. According to the Explore the Bible curriculum, “The avenger of blood could not touch him as long as he remained in that place, but if he left it, he could be slain. When the current high priest died, however, the manslayer was no longer confined to the city of refuge; he could go back home.”
(26) ‘And if the man-slayer at all go out from the border of the city of his refuge whither he fleeth,Numbers 35:26-28
(27) and the redeemer of blood hath found him at the outside of the border of the city of his refuge, and the redeemer of blood hath slain the man-slayer, blood is not for him;
(28) for in the city of his refuge he doth dwell till the death of the chief priest; and after the death of the chief priest doth the man-slayer turn back unto the city of his possession.
God values human life and he knows we do, too. God made a plan through governmental means to deal with how His people were to treat difficult situations. All people value some human life, even if they don’t value all human life. This is certainly the case with those who are close to someone who dies in some accidental way. I know missionaries who must be careful driving because if they are in an accident where someone is seriously injured or killed, even if they were innocent, they could easily be seen as guilty, thrown in jail, and even killed. These are not new problems, and they exist to this day.
It is not our job to avenge the deaths of those who have been murdered. The government provides a means of achieving justice. God is the one who will ultimately rightly judge. On a personal level, we must be willing to forgive.