Front Matter The Story of a Beautiful Garden The First Baby in the World and His Brother The Great Ship That Saved Eight People The Tower That Was Never Finished The Story of a Long Journey How Abram's Choice Brought Blessing The Angel by the Well The Rain of Fire That Fell on a City The Boy Who Became an Archer How an Angel's Voice Saved a Boy's Life The Story of a Journey after a Wife How Jacob Stole His Brother's Blessing Jacob's Wonderful Dream A Midnight Wrestling Match The Rich Man's Son Who Was Sold as a Slave From the Prison to the Palace How Joseph's Dream Came True A Lost Brother Found From the Land of Famine to the Land of Plenty The Beautiful Baby Who Was Found in a River The Voice from the Burning Bush The River That Ran Blood The Night When a Nation Was Born How the Sea Became Dry Land and the Sky Rained Bre The Mountain That Smoked and Words That Were Spoke How Aaron Made a Golden Calf and What Became of It The Tent Where God Lived Among His People How They Worshipped God in the Tabernacle What Strong Drink Brought to Aaron's Sons The Scapegoat in the Wilderness The Cluster of Grapes from the Land of Canaan How the Long Journey of the Israelites Came to an What a Wise Man Learned from an Ass How Moses Looked upon the Promised Land The Story of Job The Story of a Scarlet Cord How the River Jordan Became Dry The Story of a Wedge of Gold How Joshua Conquered the Land of Canaan The Old Man Who Fought Against the Giants The Avenger of Blook and the Cities of Refuge The Story of an Altar Beside the River The Presnt That Ehud Brought to King Eglon How a Woman Won a Great Victory Gideon and His Brave Three Hundred Jephthah's Rash Promise and What Came from It The Strong Man: How He Lived and How He Died The Idol Temple at Dan and Its Priest How Ruth Gleaned in the Field of Boaz The Little Boy with a Linen Coat How the Idol Fell Down Before the Ark The Last of the Judges The Tall Man Who Was Chosen King How Saul Saved the Eyes of the Men of Jabesh The Brave Young Prince Saul's Great Sin and His Great Loss The Shepherd Boy of Bethlehem The Shepherd Boy's Fight with the Giant The Little Boy Looking for the Arrows Where David Found the Giant's Sword How David Spared Saul's Life The Last Days of King Saul The Shepherd Boy Becomes a King The Sound in the Treetops The Cripple at the King's Table The Prophet's Story of the Little Lamb David's Handsome Son and How He Stole the Kingdom Absalom in the Wood; David on the Throne The Angel with the Drawn Sword on Mount Moriah Solomon on This Father's Throne The Wise Young King The House of God on Mount Moriah The Last Days of Solomon's Reign The Breaking Up of a Great Kingdom The King Who Led Israel to Sin The Prophet Who Raised a Boy to Life The Prayer That Was Answered in Fire The Voice That Spoke to Elijah in the Mount The Wounded Prophet and His Story What Ahab Paid for His Vineyard The Arrow That Killed a King Elijah's Chariot of Fire A Spring Sweetened by Salt The Pot of Oil and the Pot of Poison The Little Boy at Shunem How a Little Girl Helped to Cure a Leper The Chariots of Fire around Elisha What the Lepers Found in the Camp Jehu, the Furious Driver of His Chariot Elisha and the Bow; Jonah and Nineveh How the Ten Tribes Were Lost The First Four Kings of Judah The Little Boy Who Was Crowned King Three Kings and a Great Prophet The Good King Hezekiah The Lost Book Found in the Temple The Last Four Kings of Judah and the Weeping Proph What Ezekiel Saw in the Valley The Jewish Captives in the Court of the King The Golden Image and the Fiery Furnace The Tree That Was Cut Down and Grew Again The Writing upon the Wall Daniel in the Den of Lions The Story of a Joyous Journey The New Temple on Mount Moriah The Beautiful Queen of Persia The Scribe Who Wrote the Old Testament The Nobleman Who Built the Wall of Jerusalem Ezra's Great Bible Class in Jerusalem The Angel by the Altar The Manger of Bethlehem The Star and the Wise Men The Boy in his Father's House The Prophet in the Wilderness Jesus in the Desert, and beside the River The Water Jars at the Wedding Feast The Stranger at the Well The Story of a Boy in Capernaum and a Riot A Net Full of Fishes The Leper and the Man Let Down through the Roof The Cripple at the Pool and the Withered Hand The Twelve Disciples and the Sermon on the Mount The Captain's Servant, the Widow's Son, and a Sinn Some Stories Jesus Told by the Sea "Peace, Be Still" The Little Girl Who Was Raised to Life A Dancing Girl and What Was Given Her The Feast beside the Sea and What Followed It The Answer to a Mother's Prayer The Glory of Jesus on the Mountain The Little Child in the Arms of Jesus At the Feast of Tabernacles The Man with Clay on His Face The Good Shepherd and the Good Samaritan Lazarus Raised to Life Some Parables in Perea The Poor Rich Man and the Rich Poor Man Jesus at Jericho Palm Sunday The Last Vistis of Jesus to the Temple The Parables on the Mount of Olives The Last Supper The Olive Orchard and the High Priests Hall The Crown of Thorns The Darkest Day of All the World The Brightest Day of All the World The Stranger on the Shore The Church of the First Days The Man at the Beautiful Gate The Right Way to Give, and the Wrong Way Stephen with the Shining Face The Man Reading in the Chariot The Voice That Spoke to Saul What Peter Saw by the Sea How the Iron Gate Was Opened The Earliest Missionaries The Song in the Prison Paul's Speech on the Hill Paul at Corinth Paul at Ephesus Paul's Last Journey to Jerusalem The Speech on the Stairs Two Years in Prison The Story That Paul Told to the King Paul in the Storm How Paul Came to Rome and How He Lived There The Throne of God The City of God

Story of the Bible Told for Young and Old - Jesse Hurlbut

The Avenger of Blood, and the Cities of Refuge

There was among the Israelites one custom which seems so strange, and so different from our ways, that it will be interesting to hear about it. It was their rule with regard to any man who by accident killed another man. With us, whenever a man has been killed, the man who killed him, if he can be found, is taken by an officer before the judge, and he is tried. If he hilled the man by accident, not wishing to do harm, he is set free. If he meant to kill him he is punished; he may be sentenced to die for the other man's death; and when he is put to death it is by the officer of the law.

But in the lands of the east, where the Israelites lived, it was very different. There, when a man was killed, his nearest relative always took it upon himself to kill the man who had killed him; and he undertook to kill this man without trial, without a judge, and by his own hand, whether the man deserved to die, or did not deserve it. Two men might be working in the forest together, and one man's axe might fly from his hand and kill the other; or one man hunting might kill another hunter by mistake. No matter whether the man was guilty or innocent, the nearest relative of the one who had lost his life must find the man who had killed him, and kill him in return, wherever he was. If he could not find him, sometimes he would kill any member of his family whom he could find. This man was called "the avenger of blood," because he took vengeance for the blood of his relative, whether the one whom he slew deserved to die or not. When Moses gave laws to the children of Israel he found this custom of having an "avenger of blood" rooted so deeply in the habits of the people, that it could not be broken up. In fact, it still remains, even to this day, among the village people in the land where the Israelites lived.

But Moses gave a law which was to take the place of the old custom, and to teach the people greater justice in their dealings with each other. And when they came into the land of Canaan, Joshua carried out the plan which Moses had commanded.

Joshua chose in the land six cities, three on one side of the river Jordan, and three on the other side. All of these were well-known places and easy to find. Most of them were on mountains, and could be seen far away. They were so chosen that from almost any part of the land a man could reach one of these cities in a day, or at the most in two days. These cities were called "Cities of Refuge," because in them a man who had killed another by mistake could find refuge from the avenger of blood.

When a man killed another by accident, wherever he was, he ran as quickly as possible to the nearest of these cities of refuge. The avenger of blood followed him, and might perhaps overtake him and kill him before he reached the city. But almost always the an, having some start before his enemy, would get to the city of refuge first.

There the elders of the city looked into the case. They learned all the facts; and if the man was really guilty, and deserved to die, they gave him up to be killed by the avenger. But if he was innocent, and did not mean to kill the man who was dead, they forbade the avenger to touch him, and kept him in safety.

A line was drawn around the city, at a distance from the wall, within which line the avenger could not come to do the man harm; and within this line were fields, where the man could work and raise crops, so that he could have food.

And there at the city of refuge the innocent man who had killed another without meaning to kill, lived until the high-priest died. After the high-priest died, and another high-priest took his place, the man could go back to his own home and live in peace.

The Ark with the Golden Cherubim


These were the cities of refuge in the land of Israel: On the north, Kedesh in the tribe of Naphtali; in the center, Shechem, at the foot of Mount Gerizim, in the tribe of Ephraim; and on the south, Hebron, Caleb's city, in the tribe of Judah. These were among the mountains, on the west of the river Jordan. On the east of the river Jordan, the cities were Golan of Bashan in Manasseh, Ramoth of Gilead, in the tribe of Gad, and Bezer in the highlands of the tribe of Reuben.

This law taught the Israelites to be patient, and to control themselves, to protect the innocent, and to seek for justice, and not yield to sudden anger.

Among the tribes there was one which had no land given to it in one place. This was the tribe of Levi, to which Moses and Aaron belonged. The men of this tribe was priests, who offered the sacrifices, and Levites, who cared for the Tabernacle and its worship. Moses and Joshua did not think it well to have all the Levites living in one part of the country, so he gave them cities, and in some places the fields around the cities, in many parts of the land. From these places they went up to the Tabernacle to serve, each for a certain part of the year; and the rest of the year stayed in their homes and cared for their fields.

When the war was over, and the land was divided, Joshua fixed the Tabernacle at a place called Shiloh, not far from the center of the land, so that from all the tribes the people could come up at least once a year for worship. They were told to come from their homes three times in each year, and to worship the Lord at Shiloh.

These three times were for the feast of the Passover in the spring, when the lamb was killed, and roasted, and eaten with unleavened bread, of which we read in Story Twenty-eight of Part One; the feast of the Tabernacles in the fall, when for a week they slept out of doors in huts made of twigs and boughs, to keep in mind their life in the wilderness; and the feast of Pentecost, fifty days after the Passover, when they laid on the altar the first ripe fruits from the fields. All these three great feasts were kept at the place of the altar and the Tabernacle.

And at Shiloh, before the Tabernacle, they placed the altar, on which the offerings were laid twice every day. (See Part First, Stories Twenty-seven and Twenty-eight.)

God had kept his promise, and had brought the Israelites into a land which was their own, and had given them rest from all their enemies.