Levitical Cities in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
I. LEGAL PROVISIONS
II. WELLHAUSEN'S VIEW
III. ALTERNATIVE VIEW AND EVIDENCE
1. Traces of the Cities
2. Wellhausen's Arguments Answered
3. Van Hoonacker's Reply
4. Ezekiel's Vision
5. Priestly Cities and Cities in Which Priests Dwell
I. Legal Provisions.
Nu 35:1-8 provides that 48 cities should be given to the
Levites, each surrounded by a pasturage. The exact details
are not quite clear, for in the Hebrew, Nu 35:4 would
naturally be read as meaning that the pasturage was a radius
of 1,000 cubits from the city walls, while 35:5 makes each
city the center of a square, each side of which was 2,000
cubits long. Extant variants in the versions suggest,
however, that the text has suffered slightly in
transmission. Originally there seems to have been no
discrepancy between the two verses, and it may be doubted
whether the intent was that the city was always to be in the
mathematical center of the patch. The Levites were to have
the right of redeeming the houses at any time, and in
default of redemption they were to go out in the Jubilee.
The field was not to be sold (Lev 25:32 f).
Dt 18:8 undoubtedly recognizes patrimonial possessions of
the Levites outside the religious capital, and sees no
inconsistency with its earlier statement that Levi had no
portion or inheritance with Israel (18:1). The explanation
lies in the fact that these cities were not a tribal portion
like the territories of the secular tribes. The area
occupied by the whole 48 jointly would only have amounted to
less than 16 miles.
II. Wellhausen's View.
Josh 21 relates that this command...