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Reflections on a Tragedy


For thousands of years, communities have wrestled with the question of how to treat accidental killers. The Book of Numbers (consistent with a shorter passage in Exodus) tells us that God instructed Moses to tell the Israelites to establish six cities of refuge to which accidental killers could flee. The accidental killer was to be protected from the wrath of the victim's family -- the "blood avenger" -- so long as he remained within the city of refuge. Only when the high priest of the city died could the killer return home.

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