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Maybe we finally have this City of Refuge thing down pat after yesterday's study article. The way the Law had it, the accidental manslayer had to flee to one of the six cities of refuge, where his case would be heard. If the 'avenger of blood' (closest relative of the deceased) killed him before he got there, he was guiltless. He might simply have lost it. Or he might figure there wouldn't have been an accident if the fellow had been more careful or not neglected safety. (aspects of safety on the job were also considered, as in 'What can we learn from this?')
 
BUT some have said that he could not do otherwise. He MUST put the killer to death. It is not his prerogative to overlook or forgive, because principles greater than just a matter between two humans come into play. Still, it is hard to believe that a man, bereaved himself, would HAVE TO put to death someone, maybe a close friend or even a relative, who had accidentally taken a life.
 
How does the following work as a compromise? The killer MUST flee to one of the cities of refuge - that much is clear. Why couldn't the avenger of blood take his sweet time in his 'pursuit' - or even walk there with him, if he was really a close chum? Our minds are skewed by the picture in the Watchtower decades ago of the manslayer running for all he is worth with the avenger hot on his heals. Who is to say it was always (or even usually) like that?
 
The death was an accident. The city of refuge was a place where one might live a normal, productive and rewarding life. It was not a prison. But suppose the manslayer refused to go there, insisting he didn't have to, insisting he was 'guiltless' because he didn't mean to do what he did?
 
THEN he would be put to death, not just for the accidental killing itself, or even primarily, but for the greater crime of thumbing his nose at God, for it is his arrangement. Put to death BY WHO becomes secondary. Maybe the avenger of blood. But if the avenger simply couldn't find it within himself to do it, it is hard to believe there would not be a posse or something to help him out or even take it off his hands.
 
Of course, if the real sin is thumbing one's nose at God, the avenger would probably be incensed over THAT and would possibly 'rise to the occasion' on that count, whereas the death itself he would be willing to forgive.
 
Does it work?
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Maybe we finally have this City of Refuge thing down pat after yesterday's study article. The way the Law had it, the accidental manslayer had to flee to one of the six cities of refuge, where his cas

I agree with the comment by JWI on the speculative nature of scenarios in connection with the cities of refuge. I haven't investigated cities of refuge in a historical context simply because reliable

Hey, does anyone remember that Twilight Zone episode where the driver strikes and kills the kid? -obviously and accident. His wife remarks over dinner how horrible it is that the unknown driver did no

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Hey, does anyone remember that Twilight Zone episode where the driver strikes and kills the kid? -obviously and accident. His wife remarks over dinner how horrible it is that the unknown driver did not turn himself in, and is puzzled by her husband's agitation. His car begins to haunt him. It wakes him up out of a sound sleep with blaring horn. (as a child, it was spooky as all get-out!) He tells his wife the next morning that he will walk to work, since the car has been acting funny. She is amazed to see the garage door open, and the car follows him - he panics and falls. The car stops inches from crushing his head. The passenger door opens. He gets in and it drives him presumably to the police station to confess. The car is the avenger of blood!!

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On 1/15/2018 at 7:16 AM, TrueTomHarley said:

The death was an accident. The city of refuge was a place where one might live a normal, productive and rewarding life. It was not a prison. But suppose the manslayer refused to go there, insisting he didn't have to, insisting he was 'guiltless' because he didn't mean to do what he did?

My father was in one of the assembly dramas back in 1967. Brother Glass had worked out this "play" with the Gilead students and produced the one-hour skit that was recorded by him and the Gilead students and a couple of other Bethelites with good voices (especially from the other primary instructors: Maxwell Friend, Harold Jackson, Karl Adams, Bert Schroeder). I remember that we attended two assemblies that year because of the drama. I was baptized at the first one.

Those dramas had just started in '66 (Aachan and the theft of contra-"ban" at Ai) and that year they had learned that subtle gestures don't show up well in large stadium audiences, so they taught everyone to over-gesture (and gesticulate) so hard that everyone was karate-chopping the air with every syllable so you knew who was speaking.

But the only thing I remember from the content was that it was used to show that everyone should stay in the protection of Jehovah's arrangement for security (the organization) or they would die. That we are all blood-guilty even if just "accidentally" so, through the sin of Adam, and that we must remain until the "high priest dies" but that he already died in 33 CE, so we are no longer bloodguilty, but we need to stay put anyway.

Of course, that wasn't the whole story, but it definitely was NOT mined for treasures or gems the way that more recent discussions have done (including yesterday's WT study).

I was also thinking that it highlighted safety issues, and it also did something else that isn't mentioned anywhere as far as I know. It's not just to provide a cooling-off period for the avenger who would be tempted to avenge potentially innocent manslaughter ("innocent" in the sense of unintentional). It's also a loving provision for the families who would have to continue to live and work next to the person responsible for such trauma and pain. Defending honor has developed into some terrible practices around the world, including Hatfield and McCoy style feuds that can go on for a century or more. I saw the play Hamilton last year which means I know even less about U.S. History now than I did before, but it showed a facet of dueling that I wasn't aware of, wherein, persons could use it for personal revenge, or purposely arrange to "miss" so as to forgive.

Last year, I spent several days over the course of a week at the British Museum and asked if I could find information on other nations that were known to have sanctuary cities or cities of refuge. The answer was surprising, and got to read one of the recent books they had from David P. Wright and a couple articles in the JBL, including Jeffrey Stackert. 

  • Why Does Deuteronomy Legislate Cities of Refuge? Asylum in the Covenant Collection (Exodus 21:12-14) and Deuteronomy (19:1-13) Author(s): Jeffrey Stackert Source: Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 125, No. 1 (Spring, 2006), pp. 23-49

The book by Wright would be very controversial for most of us.

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Something similar happens when you put out a contract to have someone killed, when you are too old or disinclined to do it yourself.

Your "hit man" does your bidding, but it can be traced back to you.

So you get a second "hit man" to bump off the first one.

Then you get a third one to off the second one, etc., etc.

..... but ultimately, it's free !

By the way, with the Hatfields and McCoys, the reason that stopped their feuding is the Hatfields, most of them I am told, became Jehovah's Witnesses. It may or may not be true, as I have forgotten where I got that info ... so just consider it an old man's fairy tale.

However, I had the distinct pleasure of dancing with Libby Hatfield, of Chattaroy, West Virginia, at a "gathering" in Roanoke, Virginia., circa 1976.

THAT ... I remember.

 

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Someone also made a point that if the accidental manslayer was a son, still living at home, who killed his brother, then the next of kin to be the blood avenger would have been the father of the two boys. However, the whole family of the "guilty" son could go with him to the city of refuge, including the father of course. This shows that it wasn't about the avenging of blood as such, but more about respecting Jehovah's institution of the "refuge", on both the part of the manslayer, and the avenger of blood. In this case, one can imagine the whole family, including the manslayer and the avenger of blood walking together to the city of refuge.

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33 minutes ago, Anna said:

Someone also made a point that if the accidental manslayer was a son, still living at home, who killed his brother, then the next of kin to be the blood avenger would have been the father of the two boys. However, the whole family of the "guilty" son could go with him to the city of refuge, including the father of course.

Sounds interesting, but isn't it all just speculation?

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On 1/15/2018 at 12:16 PM, TrueTomHarley said:

But suppose the manslayer refused to go there, insisting he didn't have to, insisting he was 'guiltless' because he didn't mean to do what he did?

I agree with the comment by JWI on the speculative nature of scenarios in connection with the cities of refuge. I haven't investigated cities of refuge in a historical context simply because reliable information seems rather scant.

Apart from the setting out the provision in Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua,, there doesn't appear to be any reference to the use of the provision in the Hebrew Scriptures, like for example, the cameo appearance of Ruth with reference to the provision of "levirate" marriage.

There is a lot of what I term as higher-critical gobbledegook on the matter, but really only of some academic interest (to me). Perhaps, rather like the Sabbath Year and Jubilee provisions, there was little adherence to the legislated procedure over the years. (Compare Jer.2:34 "Even your skirts are stained with the blood of the innocent poor ones, though I did not find them in the act of breaking in")

Anyway, with regard to TTH's comment, this manslayer, self assessesed as "guiltless", has rather missed the point. Where human blood has been shed there is no "guiltlessness" as the basis for the Mosaic provision makes clear at Genesis 9:5-6. Anyone of that opinion was not thinking in harmony with Jehovah God's view of the matter of shedding human blood in any circumstance, and would be putting themselves greatly at risk of an execution of judgement without mercy.

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On 1/15/2018 at 12:11 PM, JW Insider said:

The book by Wright would be very controversial for most of us.

Why?

On 1/15/2018 at 12:11 PM, JW Insider said:

asked if I could find information on other nations that were known to have sanctuary cities or cities of refuge.

Not exactly the same, but in The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Dumas ('dumb ass', per Shawshank Redemption) almost an entire chapter is devoted to 'ayslum'' Anybody, no matter how vile their deed, could flee to a section of the huge church and, as long as they stayed there, they were untouchable. They would not be turned over.

 

On 1/15/2018 at 12:11 PM, JW Insider said:

good voices (especially from the other primary instructors: Maxwell Friend

I always thought - dare I say it? - that Friend's voice distracted in that it was so Shakesperian. 

I met him in our Kingdom Hall because he was friends with someone in the sister congregation. I was not happy to see him unexpectedly, because I had a part that night and I was insufficiently prepared. I needn't have worried. I had done these Q and A's before, and this part went smoothe. He sat in the audience like everyone else. He raised his hand for a question. I called on him and he answered like everyone else - not some uber profound answer from a Gilead instructor. Just a plain vanilla answer that any reasonably spiritual person might give.

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1 hour ago, TrueTomHarley said:

I always thought - dare I say it? - that Friend's voice distracted in that it was so Shakesperian. 

I was IN his congregation for 3 years. I had originally been assigned to the Bronx which I loved, but when I had extra assignments at work, I was ultimately transferred to the BH congregation where he also attended. I once interviewed him (taped) for about an hour with a list of questions that he mostly wrote himself. I liked him, but I agree that his voice was over-the-top. I mentioned Harold Jackson in my list of drama voices. He actually was rarely used due to a "country" accent. Sydlik had the kind of voice for dramas and he was often used alongside Maxwell Friend. People thought Sydlik was too much "Brooklyn" for doing the voice of God. I heard someone make fun of his drama voice once saying: "Hey youz gize down thayer!"

1 hour ago, TrueTomHarley said:
On 1/15/2018 at 12:11 PM, JW Insider said:

The book by Wright would be very controversial for most of us.

Why?

Wright and Stackert, too, saw the same thing that G.Fishing mentioned. There is very little actual information about how this was put into practice. Because of this, in large part, they considered it to be an idealized legal concept that had solely a literary source, but may not have been practiced. I don't buy this completely because the ideal city locations were designated for an obvious practical purpose, along with the reminder to keep roads clear for the practical purpose of getting there. I also think it was practical in the sense that it didn't waste tax dollars for jails. The taxes were given to the priests, and the priests were given walled cities and farmland. The six cities of refuge were also chosen from the priestly cities, 5 Levitic, and 1 Aaronic, if I remember correctly. Instead of a local judge who had a higher likelihood of being related to one of the families involved in the manslaughter dispute, a priest was also educated, knew the law, had extra room, for a "jail," and could always use extra help. To me, all this goes to practicality, and therefore I suspect, something that was at least sometimes put into practice.

Of course, this isn't proof. It's hardly evidence for that matter. Also, there is nothing wrong with a law that was included because it showed the best way to handle justice for accidental manslaughter, even if the Jewish nation themselves didn't take advantage of it.

Wright was the one who found some additional material that I can't explain within our current perspective about the Mosaic Law. I'll go on if someone asks.

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6 hours ago, JW Insider said:

Sounds interesting, but isn't it all just speculation?

Ya, you know I love speculation :D But apparently (according to the WT) some Jewish sources say the fugitive could bring his family with him/her. So if that is true, and I don't see why it shouldn't be as why would Jehovah want to separate a husband from his wife and children for example, then it stands to reason a young man who had to flee because he accidentally killed his brother living under the same roof with the parents would not necessarily have to be severed from his family. So if that was the case, then why make a "show" of fleeing, if your family was going to join you anyway? And if one member of that family was to be the avenger of blood, would he make a "show" of staying behind just till you made it to the city, and then join you later?

The law was that the avenger of blood was not allowed to touch the fugitive in the city of refuge, it says nothing about the avenger of blood not being able to live in the same city does it?

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1 minute ago, Anna said:

But apparently (according to the WT) some Jewish sources say the fugitive could bring his family with him/her.

There are many Jewish sources which are merely additional types of speculation. The speculation is perhaps a bit more likely to be of interest because Jewish sources have often been speculating on such things for a much longer period of written history than any so-called Christian sources. Many, historically, have had the advantage of speculating in the same language the Bible was written in and therefore have noticed nuances of language that most of us would miss. Often the same so-called advantages have led them astray, too. Looking through the Babylonian Talmud for early commentary on various subjects, for example, one might find answers relying on numerology and/or gematria. One also finds pure contradiction in some of the ancient Jewish traditions. For example, paraphrasing (but not by much):

  • Rabbi so-and-so said this means one thing, and Rabbi thus-and-such said this means the opposite.

 

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2 hours ago, JW Insider said:

There are many Jewish sources which are merely additional types of speculation. The speculation is perhaps a bit more likely to be of interest because Jewish sources have often been speculating on such things for a much longer period of written history than any so-called Christian sources. Many, historically, have had the advantage of speculating in the same language the Bible was written in and therefore have noticed nuances of language that most of us would miss. Often the same so-called advantages have led them astray, too. Looking through the Babylonian Talmud for early commentary on various subjects, for example, one might find answers relying on numerology and/or gematria. One also finds pure contradiction in some of the ancient Jewish traditions. For example, paraphrasing (but not by much):

  • Rabbi so-and-so said this means one thing, and Rabbi thus-and-such said this means the opposite.

 

True of course. But I didn't want to focus so much on whether Jewish sources were always reliable, but in this case it would make sense because the point of the cities of refuge was not punishment, but rather a merciful provision for those who otherwise would have to be executed, because that was the law, regardless whether it was accidental or not. It would make no sense for example  if the accidental manslayer was a wife, and  her husband and dependent children would have to abandon her. I don't think the point of this law was to break up families.There are so many other  scenarios one could think of, that obviously could not all be covered by the law in detail, so the law must have been applied in principle. This wasn't even my observation but a friend of TTH suggested that the father of a fugitive son who had accidentally killed his brother would be allowed to go with him. It made sense to me....

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