Throughout the Torah and Talmud we see that there are 6 cities of refuge: 3 on one side of the Jordan, and 3 on the other side of the Jordan.

In this week's Parsha (Shoftim, Perek 19, Pasuk 9 says that we will add three more to the current three.

Rashi comments on this pasuk that it means we will have 3 more in addition to the current 6.

What does this mean; does this mean in the future, in the times of Moshiach, there will be 9? What was Moshe referring to when he said 3 more?

2 Answers 2


Yes, this is referring to the fact that in the times of Moshiach there will be 9 cities of refuge.

The Gemara in Makkot 9b says:

תנו רבנן שלש ערים הבדיל משה בעבר הירדן וכנגדן הבדיל יהושע בארץ כנען.

The Sages taught: Moses designated three cities of refuge in the east bank of the Jordan, and corresponding to them, Joshua designated three cities of refuge in the land of Canaan.

This is clear that there were only six.

The source Rashi quotes from is the Sifrei. Sifrei Devarim 185:1:

כי תשמור את כל המצוה הזאת לעשותה ויספת לך. מכאן אמרו, שלש ערים הבדיל משה בעבר הירדן. וכשבאו לארץ הפרישו עוד שלש, ולעתיד לבא עתידים להפריש עוד שלש. שלש על שלש הרי ששה ועוד ג' הרי תשע.

(Devarim 19:9) "If you keep all of this mitzvah to do it … then you shall add for yourself, etc.": From here we see that Moses set aside three cities (of refuge) across the Jordan. When they came to Eretz Yisrael, they set aside another three, and in time to come, they are destined to set up another three. Three superadded to three — six, and another three — nine together.

The Gra (Vilna Gaon) explains:

אשר ה' אלהיך נתן לך נחלה. הוא לעתיד ג' עמים שיתן ויתוספו לכם עוד שלש ערי מקלט ג״כ תראו לפנות מן המכשולין.

So, three will be added in the times of Moshiach.


The Rambam in Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings 11:1-2 says that the 3 additional cities will be added when Moshiach comes.

The Rambam actually uses this to show that the Torah hints to the times of Moshiach, for it states "If the Lord your G-d shall enlarge your borders … and shall add for you another three cities…" and this never happened, being that Hashem (G-d) wouln't command us to do something that wouldn't take place it must be it will take place when Moshiach comes.

The Minchas Chinuch says this is a scriptural decree. Logically there will not be a need for Cities of Refuge in the future, as then there will be only peace, truth and good (mitzvah 520).

Alshich says The cities might be used to provide refuge for acts committed before the Redemption.

Some additional information about cities of refuge:
In addition to the 6 (9) cities of refuge there are an additional 42 cities (these are the cities that the Levim lived in).

The difference in status between the 6 and 42 cities is that, if a murderer entered one of the 6 they would be "safe" no mater if they entered the city knowing that it was a city of refuge or not. However one who entered one of the 42 cities would only be "safe" if they knew that it was a city of refuge. Makkot 10a

More on why we will need cities of refuge when Moshiach comes.

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