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Bamidbar 35 discusses the cities that are to be given to the Leviem, and says that in addition to the 6 cities of refuge they are to be given 42 cities.
Numbers 35:6

וְאֵ֣ת הֶֽעָרִ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֤ר תִּתְּנוּ֙ לַלְוִיִּ֔ם אֵ֚ת שֵׁשׁ־עָרֵ֣י הַמִּקְלָ֔ט אֲשֶׁ֣ר תִּתְּנ֔וּ לָנֻ֥ס שָׁ֖מָּה הָרֹצֵ֑חַ וַעֲלֵיהֶ֣ם תִּתְּנ֔וּ אַרְבָּעִ֥ים וּשְׁתַּ֖יִם עִֽיר׃ The towns that you assign to the Levites shall comprise the six cities of refuge that you are to designate for a manslayer to flee to, to which you shall add forty-two towns.

The stam, and then Abaye in BT Makos take for granted that these 42 additional cities also serve as cities of refuge.

Makos 10A

ותו ליכא והא כתיב (במדבר לה, ו) ועליהם תתנו ארבעים ושתים עיר אמר אביי הללו קולטות בין לדעת בין שלא לדעת הללו לדעת קולטות שלא לדעת אינן קולטות The Gemara asks: And are there no more cities of refuge beyond these six? But isn’t it written: “And the cities that you shall give to the Levites: The six cities of refuge you shall give for the murderer to flee there, and beyond them you shall give forty-two cities” (Numbers 35:6), indicating that the status of all the Levite cities is that of cities of refuge? Abaye said: With regard to these six cities designated specifically for this purpose, unintentional murderers in need of refuge are admitted there whether they entered the cities deliberately, aware that they are cities of refuge, or whether they entered inadvertently. By contrast, with regard to those forty-two Levite cities, unintentional murderers are admitted only if they entered the cities deliberately, but if they entered the cities inadvertently, they are not admitted to the cities.

However I could locate not any prior source that hinted at such a reading of the pesukim. I am looking for any biblical or taanitic source that might indicate such an understanding. (looked at Bamidbar 35, Devarim 19, Yehoshua 20, Mishna, Tosefta, Midrash, Yerushalmi makos.) Although the Talmud's question above quotes ועליהם תתנו ארבעים ושתים עיר that pasuk does not show that those 42 have the same function-- the section is discussion the territory to be given to the Leveim. Answers that distinguish drash from pshat here should please explain a compelling reason to have the drash diverge in this way. I am more interested in precedent than the drasha itself as the Talmud takes it as a given rather than asking it as a contradiction between some other source that makes such a drasha, indicating that it was accepted and clear that the 42 serve as cities of refuge.

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According to Rabbi Prof. Yoel Elitzur in his essay on this question, the Bavli's understanding seems to come from the list of cities in Divrei Hayamim, where it says, for example (1:6:42):

"וְלִבְנֵי אַהֲרֹן נָתְנוּ אֶת עָרֵי הַמִּקְלָט אֶת חֶבְרוֹן וְאֶת לִבְנָה וְאֶת מִגְרָשֶׁיהָ וְאֶת יַתִּר וְאֶת אֶשְׁתְּמֹעַ וְאֶת מִגְרָשֶׁיהָ"

While in Yehoshua it says (Yehoshua 21:13):

"וְלִבְנֵי אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן נָתְנוּ אֶת עִיר מִקְלַט הָרֹצֵחַ אֶת חֶבְרוֹן וְאֶת מִגְרָשֶׁהָ וְאֶת לִבְנָה וְאֶת מִגְרָשֶׁהָ"

The key difference being that in Yehoshua only the chosen six cities are referred to as a "city of refuge", while the phrase "cities of refuge" in Divrei Hayamim seems to refer also to the rest of the cities, and not only the original six.

However, he also explains that this view was not widely-accepted, neither in the Bavli - the previous sugiya hinges on the understanding that there are only six cities - nor in the Yerushalmi (Makkot 7b), where they go to great lengths to explain that in the future there will be at most 15 cities of refuge.

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  • Wow. I know he has a sefer מקום בפרשה-- do you know if the other articles there are this good? (If so I'll need to get it.) Keen eye, סברה ישרה, and the historical knowledge of the academy! Jul 11 '21 at 17:03
  • @SolomonLight I don't have his book. I find this on the internet (it was uploaded to the Daf Yomi site). But I listen sometimes to his classes and he does have a lot of great chiddushim.
    – Harel13
    Jul 11 '21 at 17:05
  • 1. If there is proof in Divrei Hayamim, how could the Talmud argue without even addressing that passuk? 2. It is clear that there is a distinction between the main six cities and the other 42. This would easily explain why the Talmud sounds like there are only six cities, and the Yerushalmi says there will be 15. They refer to main cities, not the additional 42. 3. The idea that a passuk in Divrei Hayamim and an explicit Gemara can be simply dismissed as not widely accepted based on superficial readings of other sources runs counter to all historical methods of scholarship.
    – N.T.
    Jul 12 '21 at 3:55
  • @N.T. On your first question, R' Elitzur explains that the Bavli likely said this based on an ancient tradition and not per drasha from the verses. On your second one, R' Elitzur explains that it seems that originally there were only six, but eventually it became a minhag or a takanah to turn all of the Levite cities into cities of refuge. So yes, there is a distinction between the two types of cities, but both the Bavli and the Yerushalmi are nonetheless correct.
    – Harel13
    Jul 12 '21 at 4:03
  • How is question 1 answered? If the Gemara held the Halacha does not follow that passuk, it should have explained so. There is nothing wrong with saying something is a halacha l'Moshe miSinai, as that is the default understanding of all halachos, unless you have reason to think otherwise (Rambam in Hakdama to Mishna). But you can't have a passuk that says one thing, and the gemara argue without even addressing it.
    – N.T.
    Jul 12 '21 at 4:33
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It seems perfectly reasonable to read the passuk as saying the 42 cities should serve the same function as the six cities mentioned in the beginning of the verse. The Torah went out of its way to mention that these six cities are for refuge specifically in this verse.

The Ramban does imply that this is not the only way to read the verse, as he writes

ואני תמה כי על דעת רז"ל (מכות י) הכתוב שאמר (במדבר ל״ה:ו׳) ועליהם תתנו ארבעים ושתים עיר כולם למקלט צוה בהם

which implies that this is not obvious from the verses, but something we learn from Chazal. However, it seems to me that this interpretation is consistent with Chazal always paying close attention to how things are grouped together in the parsha. If the Torah was just teaching us that the six cities are the same ones that protect, it should have mentioned that detail in the next parsha that describes Cities of Refuge. Since this detail is mentioned here next to the 42 cities, it seems that the Torah is making a היקש, just as these six protect, so do the next 42.

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  • You are answering exactly what I said I didn't find compelling-- you certainly could make such a drasha, but given that it is taken as so obviously the case in the face of every single other source (except דה"י) bothers me. Even if you argue that the "behind the scenes tradition" of R Elitzur is too מחודש (it's definitely creative) it does explain why they'd think it was given. Jul 12 '21 at 11:13
  • The problem here is you see the other sources as saying "only six and no more", when they say no such thing. Clearly the other six are their own category, but they do not exclude the other 42. That is exactly the point made by Abaye in Makkos.
    – N.T.
    Jul 12 '21 at 18:40
  • This is a problem I have noted in the work of other academics, like Marc Shapiro. Instead of actually engaging with the sources on their own, they build entire theories based on "He didn't say it the way I would have said it" or "He didn't go out of his way to explain things specifically to me a thousand years later after I decided to use an entirely different framework of starting assumptions than he did."
    – N.T.
    Jul 12 '21 at 18:46
  • Good sir I am not here to discuss your problem with academia. I could not find a single source that mentioned or even indicated the 42 cities were a refuge in any capacity. Nor have you. R DR Elitzur has proposed a creative theory based on a source that does, and you are invited to not accept it. I hope you also don't love and accept every piece of yeshiveshe toireh and have reservations about certain roshei yeshiva or schools of thought more broadly. Jul 12 '21 at 21:50
  • I am open to the possibility that the mekoros to explain this little riddle are not in the collection of torah shebaal peh that came down to us, but I do not think that insisting that the simplistic answer is good or solves the problem because it is available is intellectually honest either. If this question does not appeal to you that does not both me either, but I do not feel that you are really engaging with what I asked. However, I do appreciate the time you've taken to try answering this (sincerely) Jul 12 '21 at 21:53

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