Manners & Customs: Blood Avenging
Blood Avenging in Ancient Bible Times
Avenger in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
a-venj' a-venj'-er: Avenge.--The general idea connected with
this word is that of inflicting punishment upon the
wrongdoer. Since emphasis may be placed upon the deed
itself, the wrongdoer, or the injured party, the verb is
found an intransitive (only Lev 19:18; see below),
transitive (2 Sam 4:8 et al.); and also active (Dt 32:43),
passive (Jer 5:9) and reflexive (Est 8:13). In 1 Sam 25:26
ff avenge is translated from yasha`, "to save" (Revised
Version margin, "thine own hand saving thee"), in Hos 1:4
from paqadh, "to visit," and in 2 Sam 18:19 ff from shaphaT,
"to judge," but the usual Hebrew word is naqam, or
derivatives, "to avenge." The translation in the Revised
Version (British and American) differs in some places from
King James Version: Nu 31:3 (Revised Version (British and
American) "execute Yahweh's vengeance"; compare 2 Sam 22:48;
Ps 18:47; Lev 26:25); Lev 19:18 (Revised Version (British
and American) "tak vengeance"); Jdg 5:2 (Revised Version
(British and American) "for that the leaders took the lead
in Israel" from para`, "to be free, to lead"). In the New
Testament avenge is translated from the Greek ekdikeo, "to
do justice," "to protect" (Lk 18:3 ff et al.) and the King
James Version Rev 18:20, krino, "to judge" (Revised Version
(British and American) "God hath judged your judgment").
Avenger.--That is, the person who inflicts punishment upon
the evil-doer for a wrong experienced by himself (from
naqam, "to avenge"; Ps 8:2 et al.) or by someone else from
ga'al, "to redeem"; Nu 35:12 ff et al.). In the New
Testament avenger occurs only once; "the Lord is an avenger
in all things" (1 Thess 4:6). It was the duty of the nearest
relative to execute vengeance upon the murderer of his kin:
he became the go'el. With reference to the protective
legislation and custom, see GOEL. Compare BLOOD; REVENGE,
Avenger of Blood in Easton's Bible Dictionary
(Heb. goel, from verb gaal, "to be near of kin," "to
the nearest relative of a murdered person. It was
his right and
duty to slay the murderer (2 Sam. 14:7, 11) if he
outside of a city of refuge. In order that this law
guarded against abuse, Moses appointed six cities of
21:13; Num. 35:13; Deut. 19:1,9). These were in
of the country, and every facility was afforded the
that he might flee to the city that lay nearest him
Into the city of refuge the avenger durst not follow
arrangement applied only to cases where the death
premeditated. The case had to be investigated by the
of the city, and the wilful murderer was on no
account to be
spared. He was regarded as an impure and polluted
was delivered up to the _goel_ (Deut. 19:11-13). If
was merely manslaughter, then the fugitive must
the city till the death of the high priest (Num.
Avenger of Blood in Naves Topical Bible
-Law concerning, set aside. by David
-SCRIPTURES RELATING TO
Ge 9:5,6; Nu 35:19-29; De 19:4-13; Jos 20:1-9
Blood Avenger in Bible Times
Application of the principle to Bible times. The Bedouin tribes of Arabs today govern themselves according to the old customs and laws. The whole tribe shares with the kinsman in the responsibility to avenge the shedding of blood. These old regulations need to be known in order to have an understanding of what happened in the twenty-first chapter of Second Samuel.
A famine came to the land of David three successive years, and when David inquired of the LORD for the cause of it, "The Lord answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites" (II Samuel 21:1).
King Saul had broken the covenant Israel had made with the Gibeonites, and had cruelly murdered many of these people. As a tribe of people this band of men felt duty bound to avenge the crime of Saul, but had no opportunity to do so. According to the law of the kinsman, commonly accepted among them, since the guilty man was dead, certain of his descendants should pay the penalty for the crime.
Thus the death of seven male descendants of Saul atoned for Saul's sin, as far as this tribe was concerned. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Ancient character of this custom. The shedding of blood during a raid starts a blood feud which may continue for many years. The basis for this feud is a custom or law that is common among many Semitic people. The unit of society among these peoples is the tribe or clan. The members of any one tribe have a responsibility to punish anybody who wrongs a member of their clan.
The blood of a murdered member of the tribe "crieth . . . from the ground" (Genesis 4:10), and the nearest male relative is especially duty bound to avenge the murder.
In olden times, instead of the state executing a murderer, it became the duty of the kinsman to avenge the death of the relative. The law of Moses recognized this right of the kinsman, but it did protect one who killed by accident and not by purpose, and so provided the cities of refuge, where such a man might flee and receive justice. "These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither" (Numbers 35:15). But these cities of refuge were no protection for a real murderer. He was turned over to the kinsman for vengeance.
"The revenger of blood [i.e., the kinsman] himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him" (Numbers 35:19).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Blood Avenging Scripture - 2 Samuel 14:11
Then said she, I pray thee, let the king remember the LORD thy
God, that thou wouldest not suffer the revengers of blood to
destroy any more, lest they destroy my son. And he said, [As]
the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to
Blood Avenging Scripture - Genesis 4:15
And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain,
vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a
mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
Blood Avenging Scripture - Genesis 4:24
If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and
Blood Avenging Scripture - Genesis 9:5
And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the
hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man;
at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of
Blood Avenging Scripture - Genesis 9:6
Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed:
for in the image of God made he man.
Blood in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
THE AVENGING OF BLOOD by the nearest kinsman of the deceased was a usage from the earliest historical times (Genesis 9:5-6; Genesis 34:30; 2 Samuel 14:7). Among the Bedouin Arabs the thar, or law of blood, comes into effect if the offer of money satisfaction be refused. So among the Anglo-Saxons the wer-gild, or money satisfaction for homicide, varying in amount according to the rank, was customary. The Mosaic law mitigated the severity of the law of private revenge for blood, by providing six cities of refuge (among the 48 Levitical cities), three on one side of Jordan, three on the other, for the involuntary homicide to flee into. The avenger, or goel (derived from a Hebrew root "pollution," implying that he was deemed polluted until the blood of his slain kinsman was expiated), was nearest of kin to the man slain, and was bound to take vengeance on the manslayer.
If the latter reached one of the six cities, (Kedesh in Naphtali, Shechem in mount Ephraim, Hebron in the hill country of Judah, W. of Jordan; Bezor in Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead (Gad), Golan in Manasseh, E. of Jordan,) he was safe until the elders of the city, and then those of his own city, decided whether it was an involuntary act. In this case he was kept safe from the avenger in the city of refuge, so long as he did not go 2,000 cubits beyond its precincts. After the high priest's death he might return home in safety (Numbers 35:25; Numbers 35:28; Joshua 20:4-6). The roads were to be kept clear, that nothing might retard the flight of the manslayer, to whom every moment was precious (Deuteronomy 19:3). Jewish tradition adds that posts inscribed "Refuge," "Refuge," were to be set up at the cross roads. All necessaries of water, etc., were in the cities.
PRACTICE AMONG ARAB DESERT TRIBES. When there is no strong ruler among the desert tribes of Arabs, (who is able to keep peace between the tribes) then some of the tribes may revert to the old pastime of raiding another tribe. They will select a tribe that is well supplied with cattle and goods, and will send out scouts to familiarize themselves with the tribe they wish to raid. They will organize their forces and plan to arrive there on a set night and usually in the dark of the moon. They will come up in stealth.
One of the men or boys will approach the tents in order to attract the attention of the dogs, and then this young man will run in a different direction in order to attract the dogs away from the tents. When the place is sufficiently cleared of the dogs, then the men will rush in from different directions, untie the camels, drive off the sheep and cattle, and steal all the valuable property they can, to take home to their tents and give to their sheik. This will be done amid the screaming of the women. The men who oppose them are overcome. But the raiders are careful not to harm the women, and they are careful not to shed blood. Mohammedan religion permits raids, but does not allow lives to be lost in the process. If blood is shed then a "blood feud" is started, and this is a very serious matter, for they often run for generations. The tribe will endeavor to kill as many as were killed in the raid. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Revenger of Blood in Smiths Bible Dictionary
He who avenged the blood of one who had been killed. The
nearest relative of the deceased became the authorized avenger
of blood. Nu 35:19 The law of retaliation was not to extend
beyond the immediate offender. De 24:16 2Ki 14:6; 2Ch 25:4;
Jer 31:29,30; Eze 18:20
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