The Beauty of Numbers – 7
Sacred Geometry and Marked Men
Chapters 35-36 bring us to the end of this structural analysis of the book of Numbers. The position of this final cycle is in red.
Overview of Numbers
1 – Israel called and arranged as a New Creation
2 – Leadership disputes, failures and judgments
3 – Levitical offerings and “firstfruits” victories
4 – Israel fails the jealous inspection
5 – Israel’s national festal offerings
6 – Vengeance upon Midian, Dividing the Land
7 – Cities of Refuge; Marriage of Female Heirs
If you are like me, the first time you read through the Bible you wondered why it was thrown together in such a haphazard manner. Why would Numbers end with directions concerning cities for the Levites (which included the six cities of refuge) and stipulations for the inheritance of the daughters of Zelophehad? Now I know!
- The last day of the Creation week is Rest.
- The final feast is Booths (shelters).
- The final section of the Covenant pattern is Succession.
- And, what ties these all together here is that the entire Bible begins with garden oases and ends with bridal cities.
So, as odd as these final two chapters appear, they are not only carefully composed and placed, but their position in the landscape of the text is a combination of all the relevant coordinates. As a landscape, the Scriptures contain “ley lines,” if you will, and their convergence dictates the subject matter in any given place. This might imply a great deal more repetition than we find, but I am constantly surprised at the ingenuity of the Author in filling the expectations of the structural requirements in entirely unexpected ways. These final chapters are no exception.
As a bonus, the very first sentence of chapter 35 clearly contains the complete structure:
Firstly, what is the significance of Levites here?
Priests were Levites but all Levites were not priests. Israel was holy among the nations. Levi was holy among the tribes of Israel. The priests were holy among the Levites. The final step in the Covenant pattern concerns inheritance. Here, the other tribes are giving part of their inheritance to the Levites to dwell in. Thus, each Levitical city was a miniature of Israel herself, dwelling among the nations in a Land that was a gift.
The Levites were given 48 cities to dwell in, and in some sense these were precursors of the more cosmopolitan synagogues. With the Lord as their king, Israelites were to be self-governing, with the Levites ministering among them. We know from the book of Judges how this turned out, don’t we?
Six of these 48 cities were cities of refuge. The number 48 seems at home here. It is a multiple of 12 and 4, twelve tribes and four corners. But 48 is also divisible by 6, which ties it to Atonement, and also the Holy of Holies, which was a golden cube (four corners, twelve edges, six sides). Israel’s being a shelter (Booths) for the nations depended upon the success of the prior Day of Atonement, during which the High Priest was a refuge for the nation.
The manslayer was only safe to leave his chosen city of refuge when the High Priest died. This does not mean that the manslayer needed protection from the High Priest, but that the blood of the High Priest atoned for the blood that was accidentally shed. The High Priest was a “kinsman redeemer” for every Israelite.
There were three of these cities on each side of the Jordan, east and west. The Bible’s liturgical structure also ties the Jordan River to the opening of the Veil on the Day of Atonement. So these cities, outside the Veil and inside the Veil, as gifts from the tribes to the Levites, extended the ministry of the High Priest throughout Israel.
These last two points can be tied together when we understand Israel’s Law as an exposition of the primeval crimes in Genesis. Adam was given a single, temporary prohibition, to humble him, test (prove) him and prepare him for rule. Israel, as Eve, was given many temporary prohibitions, for exactly the same purpose (Deuteronomy 8:16, and you will notice the focus on food in each case.) So, these “Evian” or corporate laws are a “multiplication” of an Adamic event. Is there an “Adamic” event where blood polluted the ground and rendered it barren? James Jordan traces these laws back to the crime of Cain:
Before the Flood, God did not give to His people the right to exercise judicial office. Sinful men, having seized the robe, did not hesitate to use it in terms of their own perverted standards. Thus Cain, unwilling to judge himself for his sins and bring a blood sacrifice as his substitute, chose to execute capital punishment against his innocent brother, who had shamed him. The ‘adhamah, drinking Abel’s blood, cried out for vengeance, but God appointed Himself a city of refuge for Cain. Cain, however, did not want to hide in God, and built his own city, ramming it into the ground which kept trying to throw him off. In time, Cain’s descendants prided themselves on the violence with which they abused the robe of office, as seen in the hymn of Lamech, the seventh from Adam in the Cainite line (Genesis 4). 
So, in a Land from which Cainites were being dispossessed, Israel herself, “the congregation,” would not only judge between the manslayer and the avenger of blood, but provide cities of refuge as a gift. This would not only teach Israel the mercy of God, but include her in its administration. Instead of Lamech’s “seventy-sevenfold” vengeance, she would learn forgiveness, mercy and covering as a Bridal City, a river which was an outflow of the Holy of Holies.
Interestingly, a division is made between a murderer and a manslayer. Both have shed blood, but the murderer’s own blood would atone for his sin. Here we have the “two goats” once again. Both men are under the curse of death, but the murderer multiplies the curse, whereas the other man only suffers under the curse. Jesus was surrounded by murderers: Herod, the Pharisees, Judas, the High Priest, Barabbas, Saul. All were filled with hatred. Like a Levite, Jesus had no house or land of his own, and became a refuge for marked men (like David in the wilderness). When He died, marked men would return to their inheritance.
Numbers 35-36 has a head and a body. The Levitical section is the sacrificial “head,” and the laws concerning female heirs is the glorious “body.”
This cycle has itself seven “matrix” sections: The Lord speaks (as noted above) / Israelites provide a covering / Common land areas / Cities to dwell in (as the Spirit among the people?) / Measurements from the wall of the city (walls being a common theme at Maturity) / North-south-east-west / City and Land as inheritance.
The location in the Land comes to fore. Israel is an Altar for the nations, and the Man is protected until he stands in the congregation for judgment.
The centre of this final cycle focuses on murderers. According to the “scroll division” of the Ten Commandments, murder (Adam) and adultery (Eve) are at the centre, at Testing. This section is a multiplication of the sin of Cain. It is “eye for eye and tooth for tooth.” And it is all motivated by the strange fire of Satanic hatred.
Matching the bloody “Bronze Altar” at Ascension is the Bridal “Golden Altar” at Maturity. Here we have the congregation judging once again, finishing the process. The witnesses are called, and “the blood of Abel” will be avenged if the motive was hatred. This ties in with the apostolic witness and the subsequent destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus said those would be “the days of vengeance…” “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Moses unlocks the Revelation every time.
This cycle speaks of blood atonement, and of God dwelling among the children of Israel. Here we have the High Priest and his two goats.
Once again, the final step concerns Succession, inheritance. Leviticus 25 dictates that all those unable to redeem their land for any reason would be able to do so at the Jubilee. (Levites could redeem their land at any time, however.) Thus the cities of refuge are also like the ark of Noah. But now, the Jubilee is raised concerning the inheritance of Zelophedad. Those who raise the issue on behalf of the daughters are godly mediators and wise judges. They are vindicated by Moses and by the Lord. The Lord gives a wise judgment concerning their marriages to avoid the problem. They would marry within their own tribe, which pictures the godly marriages of the sons of Noah (as opposed to those in Genesis 6) and the Abrahamic search for a bride willing to submit to the one true God.
Finally, as evidence of the unity of chapters 35 and 36, in verse 13 we have an ending that matches the beginning.
 James B. Jordan, Rebellion, Tyranny and Dominion in the Book of Genesis, p. 47.