Vs. 2, “then set aside for yourselves three cities centrally located in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess.” Moses goes on to remind the people of the cities of refuge (vs. 1-14, Numbers 35) that were to be designated for cases where someone unintentionally killed another (vs. 5). Question: Why would such cities of refuge be created? It served to protect the ones who accidently killed from vengeful family members. God values life above all. He does not delight in seeing any more senseless bloodshed. Those who killed with malicious intent must be purged, but there is no reason to kill another for an unintentional death. There was also a system set in place for witnesses (vs. 15-21). Sadly, there was the reality that some may come bearing false testimony. In cases of one witness (he said, she said), there needed to be proper examination and research to ascertain the validity of the testimony. If the false witness is found out, they are to be punished appropriate for the alleged crime. This certainly served as a deterrent to stop such deceptive ways.
Regarding application…Eye for Eye. Vs. 21, “Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” We were reminded recently in the Gospel of Matthew when Jesus addressed this law (Matthew 5:38-42). Question: Was Jesus denouncing this OT Law? Was God contradicting Himself? Absolutely not! Remember, context. Jesus was shedding light into the spirit of the law on the Sermon on the Mount. The crux of the “eye for an eye” issue was that the Jews of Jesus’ day were incorrectly applying this specific law from our reading today. They were using the law of their land and applying it to their personal relationships. For example; if someone is rude to me, I will be rude to them. However, this law is applicable only to those who are justly punished in the court of law. It was intended to ensure a proper punishment be given. I should forgive the wrongdoing of another in my personal life. I should even forgive someone who breaks the law against me. However, just because I forgive does not mean I should try to negate the law of the land. If the death penalty exists in my country or state, and someone in cold blood kills a family member of mine; I am compelled to forgive. But, I also would not protest if the state through its law determined the death penalty for the perpetrator. Let us ensure we have a right heart for forgiveness and not mistake this verse for punishment in our personal lives.