Manslayer (מרִצֵּח, meratstse'äch, a murderer, ἀνδροφόνος, 1Ti 1:9, as sometimes rendered), one who by an accidental homicide was entitled to the benefit of asylum (Nu 35:6,12; elsewhere usually "slayer"). SEE BLOOD-REVENGE. "One of the most peculiar provisions in the statute respecting the manslayer was the limitation of the period of his compulsory residence in one of the cities of refuge: The shall abide in it until the death of the high-priest, which was anointed with the holy oil.' After that he was allowed to 'return into the land of his possession' (ver. 28). Different reasons have been assigned by commentators for making the one event dependent on the other, which it is unnecessary to particularize. As the enactment was intended for the whole body of the people, and is recorded in Scripture without any explanation, the most simple view that can be taken of it is likely to be the nearest to the truth. One thing, however, all knew respecting the anointed high-priest, viz. that he was the head and representative of the whole community in matters pertaining to life and death; and as some limitation would evidently require to be set to the restraint laid on the manslayer, the thought would naturally commend itself to the people to make responsibility for an accidental death cease and determine with the death of him who stood nearest to God in matters of that description. In the general relations of the community a change had entered in that respect, which touched all interests, and it was fit that it should specially touch those who had been casually bereft of the freedom of life." "The principle on which the 'man-slayer' was to be allowed to escape, viz. that the person slain was regarded as delivered into his hand' by the Almighty, was obviously open to much wilfull perversion (1Sa 24:4,18; 1Sa 26:8; compare Philo, De Spec. Leg. 3:21; 2:320), though the cases mentioned appear to be a sufficient sample of the intention of the lawgiver.
a. Death by a blow in a sudden quarrel (Nu 35:22).
b. Death by a stone or missile thrown at random (ib. 22, 23).
c. By the blade of an Axe flying from its handle (De 19:5).
d. Whether the case of a person killed by falling from a roof unprovided with a parapet involved the guilt of manslaughter on the owner is not clear; but the law seems intended to prevent the imputation of malice in any such case, by preventing, as far as possible, the occurrence of the fact itself (De 22:8) (Michaelis, Oz the Laws of Moses, arts. 223, 280, ed. Smith).
In all these and the like cases the manslayer was allowed to retire to a city of refuge. SEE CITY OF REFUGE. Besides these, the following may be mentioned as cases of homicide:
a. An animal, not known to be vicious, causing death to a human being, was to be put to death, and regarded as unclean. But if it was known to be vicious, the owner also was liable to fine, and even death (Ex 21:28,31).
b. A thief overtaken at night in the act might lawfully be put to death, but if the sun had risen the act of killing him was to be regarded as murder (Ex 22:2-3). Other cases are added by the Mishna, which, however, are included in the definitions given above (Sanh. 9:1, 2, 3; Macccoth, 2:2; compare Otho, Lex. Rabb. s.v. Homicida)." SEE MURDER.