in Hebrew the participle of the verb gaal, "to redeem." It is rendered in the Authorized Version "kinsman," Nu 5:8; Ru 3:12; 4:1,6,8; "redeemer," Job 19:25; "avenger," Nu 35:12; De 19:6, etc. The Jewish law gave the right of redeeming and repurchasing, as well as of avenging blood, to the next relative, who was accordingly called by this name. (See Redeemer.)
GOEL, ???, the avenger of blood. The inhabitants of the east, it is well known, are new, what they anciently were, exceedingly revengeful. If, therefore, an individual should unfortunately happen to lay violent hands upon another person and kill him, the next of kin is bound to avenge the death of the latter, and to pursue the murderer with unceasing vigilance until he have caught and killed him, either by force or by fraud. The same custom exists in Arabia, and it appears to have been alluded to by Rebecca: when she learned that Esau was threatening to kill his brother Jacob, she endeavoured to send the latter out of the country, saying, "Why should I be bereft of you both in one day?" Ge 27:15. She could not be afraid of the magistrate for punishing the murderer, for the patriarchs were subject to no superior in Palestine; and Isaac was much too partial to Esau for her to entertain any expectation that he would condemn him to death for it. It would therefore appear that she dreaded lest he should fall by the hand of the blood avenger, perhaps of some Ishmaelite. The office, therefore, of the goel was in use before the time of Moses; and it was probably filled by the nearest of blood to the party killed, as the right of redeeming a mortgage field is given to him. To prevent the unnecessary loss of life through a sanguinary spirit of revenge, the Hebrew legislator made various enactments concerning the blood avenger. In most ages and countries, certain reputed sacred places enjoyed the privileges of being asylums; Moses, therefore, taking it for granted that the murderer would flee to the altar, commanded that when the crime was deliberate and intentional, he should be torn even from the altar, and put to death, Ex 21:14. But in the case of unintentional murder, the man-slayer was enjoined to flee to one of the six cities of refuge, which were appropriated for his residence. The roads to these cities, it was enacted, should be kept in such a state that the unfortunate individual might meet with no impediment whatever in his way, De 19:3. If the goel overtook the fugitive before he reached an asylum, and put him to death, he was not considered as guilty of blood; but if the man-slayer had reached a place of refuge, he was immediately protected, and an inquiry was instituted whether he had a right to such protection and asylum, that is, whether he had caused his neighbour's death undesignedly, or was a deliberate murderer. In the latter case he was judicially delivered to the goel, who might put him to death in whatever way he chose; but in the former case the homicide continued in the place of refuge until the high priest's death, when he might return home in perfect security. If, however, the goel found him without the city, or beyond its suburbs, he might slay him without being guilty of blood, Nu 35:26-27. Farther, to guard the life of man, and prevent the perpetration of murder, Moses positively prohibited the receiving of a sum of money from a murderer in the way of compensation, Nu 35:31. It would seem that if no avenger of blood appeared, or if he were dilatory in the pursuit of the murderer, it became the duty of the magistrate himself to inflict the sentence of the law; and thus we find that David deemed this to be his duty in the case of Joab, and that Solomon, in obedience to his father's dying entreaty, actually discharged it by putting that murderer to death, 1Ki 2:5; 6:28-34. There is a beautiful allusion to the blood avenger in Heb 6:17-18.
The following extracts will prove how tenaciously the eastern people adhere to the principle of revenging the death of their relations and friends