Sefer Yehoshua-Chapter 20: Separating the cities of refuge-Ir Miklat

Chapter 20: Separating the cities of refuge-Ir Miklat


1. Hashem instructs Yehoshua regarding the cities of refuge:

  • Hashem instructed Yehoshua to tell the Jewish people that they should separate the cities of refuge [e. Ir Miklat] of which he commanded Moshe, so they can serve as a refuge for the inadvertent murderer, so he can escape from the relatives seeking vengeance.
  • Absorbing the murderer into the city: The murderer is to flee to one of the cities of refuge and stand by the gate of the city and notify the city elders of the cause of his arrival. [Upon hearing his claim of inadvertently causing a murder[1]] they are then to invite him into the city and give him a place to reside [for free without paying rent[2]]. If the relative of the victim comes to the city to avenge the death of his relative, they are not to hand the murderer over to him, as the murder was done accidentally.
  • The length of the murderers stay in the city: The murderer is to remain in the city until his case is heard and adjudicated in court, or the Kohen Gadol passes away. If he is freed in court, or through the death of the Kohen Gadol, then he may return to his city of origin.

2. The cities that were designated as Arei Miklat:

  • The three cities in Eretz Yisrael: They designated the city of Kedesh which is in the Galil, in the portion of Naftali [as an Ir Miklat], and the city of Shechem which is in the portion of Ephraim [as an Ir Miklat], and the city of Kiryas Arba, known as Chevron, which is within the portion of Yehuda [as an Ir Miklat].
  • The three cities past the Jordan: Past the Jordan, to its east, the following cities were designated [in Moshe’s times[3] as an Ir Miklat]. The city of Betzer from the tribe of Reuvein. The city of Ramos from the tribe of Gad. The city of Golan from the tribe of Menashe.


[1] Metzudos David 20:4

[2] Radak 20:4

[3] Rashi 20:8

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