Verse Nu35-25a states
And the congregation shall deliver the
negligent murderer from the hand of the avenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to his city of refuge, where he had fled; and he shall live there
until the death of the high priest, who was anointed with the holy oil.
Rashi comments on the connection between the underlined
phrase connecting the death of the high priest
to the release of the
negligent murderer from the prison city
of refuge:A primary task of the Priest is to atone for negligent inadvertency.
For example a person who negligently
descecrates the Sabbath receives atonement by bringing
a sin offering and attending to the procedures performed
by the priest. If the priests had done their job
perfectly there would be no negligence.
Consequently when the High Priest dies (
as a punishment for lack
of prevention of negligence) the negligent murderer
We present an alternate reason why the death of the priest
releases the prisoner, this reason also based on the motif that the
priest atones for negligence. Prior to the death of the
priest the blood-avenger blaimed the murder on the
murderer's negligence. The blood-avenger
may wish to
avenge the murder by killing the murderer. However
when the High Priest dies a message is sent to the
blood avenger: Perhaps the murder is not the
murderer's fault. Perhaps it is the priest's fault.
If the priests had been more diligent in their
prevention of negligence then the murder would not
have happened.Since you are not certain whether
the negligent murder was the fault of the priest
or the murderer you shouldn't want to kill the