Once again, in Shoftim, God warns us against worshipping other gods, and especially, practicing magic.  Also, we’re not to listen to false prophets speaking in the name of God.  How do you tell a false prophet?  Well, what he predicts doesn’t happen!

Sanctuary cities

The next subject of Shoftim is sanctuary cities.  These were three cities founded especially to shelter people who accidentally kill other people. 

The Torah gives an example of accidental killing:  Suppose you and a neighbor go into the forest to chop wood.  You swing your ax and the iron part slips off the handle and conks your neighbor on the head!  Now, in most cases of killing, a relative of the dead guy can kill you in return.  But if it’s an accident, you can go to one of these sanctuary cities and be protected from angry relatives. 

Mind you, it has to be a legitimate accident.  If someone hates his neighbor and “waits in ambush for him” the elders of his own town are supposed to take him out of the sanctuary town and put him in the hands of the relative who has the right to kill him in return.

Food for Thought

Why do you think we don’t have sanctuary cities today?