|Goel of Ruth|
First, let's review the more familiar goel, the kinsman redeemer that usually come to mind for Bible students. It is based on this verse from Leviticus.
Lev 25:23 The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me. 24 Thus for every piece of your property, you are to provide for the redemption of the land. 25 'If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor he has to sell part of his property, then his nearest kinsman (goel) is to come and buy back what his relative has sold.
In this scheme of things, a person could never lose their land permanently. But a kinsman had to redeem the land if a man had to sell. Not just anyone could redeem the person in distress, it had to be family. This is a type of Jesus coming in the flesh to be a family member to all mankind. He is our Redeemer, AND a kinsman. See The Kinman Redeemer  for a deeper discussion.
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However, the kinsman redeemer, the goel, had another job but English translations don't show it. The goel is also known as the avenger. Same word, possibly the same person, two functions. In the verse above, goel is translated redeemer. In this verse, goel is translated avenger.
Num 35:12 The cities shall serve you as a refuge from the avenger (goel), so that the one who commits manslaughter does not die until he stands before the congregation for trial.
The role of the avenger is explained in later verses of Num 35, adding the qualifier "blood" which is in the Hebrew.
Num 35:19 The blood avenger (goel ha'dam) himself shall put the murderer to death; he himself shall put him to death when he meets him.
To understand the goel ha'dam, we need to consider the justice system of the time. Unlike our world, there was no police force. For protection, men made blood oaths to protect and defend each other. Such a "blood brother" had your back no matter what. He would fight along side you, and avenge your death - The Life Is InThe Blood . Having no police force meant there was no one to investigate crimes. However there were judges who did hear criminal and civil cases.
Justice for murder and accidental killing is spelled out in Numbers 35 (listed below). One who was responsible for an accidental killing had to flee to a city of refuge before the goel ha'dam found him. The goel ha'dam could avenge a death even if it was accidental. If the slayer made it to the city of refuge, the city elders would protect him from the avenger until trial. If the slayer was found guilty of murder, the city elders handed him over to the goel, who became his executioner. If the slayer left the city of refuge, and the avenger caught him, he could kill him. And the accidental slayer had to live in the city of refuge till the current High Priest died. If he left the city after that, the avenger couldn't touch him.
The hunting down of a murderer is no longer the business of the avenger, but of the state; accordingly, whether there is any relative or not, whether the relative lodges complaint or not, the state must prosecute the murderer - Jewish Encyclopedia .
Notice that intent was a big factor in determining accidental killing versus murder, just as it is today. We use the term manslaughter for an accidental death. Notice also how seriously God treats killing.
This warning is not just for ancient Israel. God, who changes not, is still in charge, and His rules are still in effect. Ancient Israel sacrificed babies to the false god Molech. America has murdered 60 million unborn babies in the last 50 years, which has defiled the land. The estimate of abortions worldwide is 1.6 BILLION - Number of Abortions . The whole earth is greatly defiled. He will not restrain His wrath forever, a reckoning is coming, and probably soon.
Num 35:33 So you shall not defile the land in which you live; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of the one who shed it.
We have the book of Ruth as an example of the kinsman redeemer, but we do not have such a story about the avenger, but remember the two are probably the same person (next of kin). In spite of not having a story about the avenger, we can learn more by examining the typology of the goel ha'dam, the slayer, and the victim.
The city of refuge also pictures Jesus Christ, where the accidental slayer can go for safety. Where better to hide than in Jesus Himself? "You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word", Psalm 119:114. And the High Priest also pictures Jesus. Only He is a High Priest that never dies.
Redeemer AND Avenger
Of the millions of Christians martyred in the 2000 years of the church’s history over half were killed in the twentieth century, and 80 percent of the cases of religious persecution in the world today are against Christians—and it’s getting worse - Crisis Magazine .
However counter-intuitive it may seem in light of popular stereotypes of Christianity as a powerful and sometimes oppressive social force, Christians today indisputably form the most persecuted religious body on the planet, and too often its new martyrs suffer in silence - Global War On Christians .
|The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer, 1883, oil on canvas.|
Painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme
The number of martyrs will only increase at the end time. After the ride of the infamous Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which are the first of seven seals opened by Jesus Christ, the Fifth Seal warns of more martyrdom.
Rev 6:9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been killed because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and AVENGING our blood on those who live on the earth?” 11 And a white robe was given to each of them; and they were told that they were to rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers and sisters who were to be killed even as they had been, was completed also.
The Hebrew word goel is translated as redeemer or avenger, depending on context. Yet both of these roles of the goel picture roles of Jesus Christ - first as Redeemer of His church, and second as Avenger of those Redeemed, that is the innocent ones. Mankind is also pictured by the slayer, as one who has done manslaughter. As slayers, we must flee to the city of refuge to hide from vengeance. The whole earth is defiled with innocent blood. Jesus Christ the Goel has much redeeming and avenging to do.
LORD, God of vengeance, God of vengeance, shine forth! - Psalm 94:1