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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 6: Harmony of the Law, Part IV, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at

Deuteronomy 4

Deuteronomy 4:41-43

41. Then Moses severed three cities on this side Jordan, toward the sun-rising;

41. Tunc separavit Moses tres urbes trans Jordanem ad exortum solis:

42. That the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbor unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that, fleeing unto one of these cities, he might live:

42. Ut fugeret illuc homicida qui occidisset proximum suum nesciens, (vel, per errorem, vel, per incogitantiam,) quem non odisset ab heri et nudiustertius: ut fugeret ad unam ex urbibus istis, et viveret.

43. Namely, Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country of the Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead, of the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, of the Manassites.

43. Bezer in deserto, in terra planitiei a Rubenitis: Ramoth Galaad a Gaditis, et Golan in Basan a Manasse.


God had destined, as we have before seen,  221 six cities for refuge, in case any one had killed a man, provided he could prove his innocence before the judges. As to the three which He had appointed on the other side of Jordan, Moses records that he had faithfully performed what God had commanded. Hence it appears that, although he could not immediately comply with God’s command to its full extent, still he did not wait until the three other cities could be added; but that, as far as circumstances permitted, he discharged his duty. Hence let us learn that, even when we cannot at once entirely carry out what God commands us to do, we are still to be by no means idle. For nothing but sheer laziness stands in our way, unless we speedily commence at God’s command what it is His will to finish and accomplish by the hands of others.



See ante, on Numbers 35:10-34; vol. 3, pp. 62, et seq.

Next: Numbers 33:1-56