Joshua – Chapter 20

Run Away! Run Away!

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Now that all 12 Tribes were settled in their portions, it was time to designate the cities of refuge as Hashem commanded Moshe in parshas Masei. These were cities where those who killed accidentally would flee. They would have to reside there until the death of the Kohein Gadol (High Priest). What did the High Priest have to do with manslaughter? One explanation, given by the Talmud in Makkos (11a) is that if he, as spiritual leader, had done a better job, such things wouldn’t happen.

Moshe himself dedicated three cities on his side of the Jordan in parshas Va’eschanan, but they did not become active until the cities were dedicated in Eretz Yisroel proper.

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