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Deuteronomy 19Amplified Bible (AMP)

Cities of Refuge

19 “When the Lord your God cuts off (destroys) the nations whose land He is giving you, and you dispossess them and live in their cities and in their houses, you shall designate three cities for yourself in the central area of the land, which the Lord your God is giving you to possess. You shall prepare and maintain for yourself the roads [to these cities], and divide the territory of your land into three parts, so that anyone who kills another unintentionally may escape there [for asylum].

“Now this is the case of the offender (manslayer) who may escape there and live [protected from vengeance]: when he kills his neighbor unintentionally, not having hated him previously— as [for example] when a man goes into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down the tree, but the iron head slips off the wooden handle and hits his companion and he dies—the offender may escape to one of these cities and live; otherwise the [a]avenger of blood might pursue the offender in the heat of anger, and overtake him, because it is a long way, and take his life, even though he did not deserve to die, since he did not hate his neighbor beforehand. Therefore, I command you, saying, ‘You shall set aside three cities [of refuge] for yourself.’

“If the Lord your God enlarges your border, as He has sworn to your fathers to do, and gives you all the land which He promised to give to your fathers— if you keep and carefully observe all these commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the Lord your God, and to walk [that is, to live each and every day] always in His ways—then you shall add three more cities [of refuge] for yourself, besides these three, 10 so that innocent blood will not be shed [by blood avengers] in your land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and blood guilt will not be on you [for the death of an innocent man].

11 “But if there is a man who hates his neighbor and lies in wait and ambush for him and attacks him and strikes him down so that he dies, and the assailant escapes to one of these cities, 12 then the elders of his own city shall send for him and have him taken back from there and turn him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may be put to death. 13 You shall not pity him [the guilty one], but you shall purge the blood of the innocent from Israel, so that it may go well with you.

Laws of Landmark and Testimony

14 “You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary mark, which the forefathers [who first divided the territory] have set, in the land which you will inherit in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.

15 “A single witness shall not appear in a trial against a man for any wrong or any sin which he has committed; [only] [b]on the testimony or evidence of two or three witnesses shall a charge be confirmed. 16 If a malicious witness rises up against a man to [falsely] accuse him of wrongdoing, 17 then both parties to the controversy shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who will be in office at that time. 18 The judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness, and he has accused his brother falsely, 19 then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. So you shall remove the evil from among you. 20 Those who remain will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you. 21 You shall not show pity [to the guilty one]: it shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

Footnotes:

  1. Deuteronomy 19:6 The nearest male relative of the victim, known as the “kinsman-redeemer” (Heb go’el), was responsible to find the guilty party and put him to death (Num 35:19). The person who had committed the homicide was protected until his trial, so long as he remained in one of the three cities. After that, if he was judged innocent of any premeditation (like someone today judged guilty of manslaughter, but not murder), he was to remain in the city under protection from the avenger until the death of the high priest, at which time he could return to his home as a free man (Num 35:28).
  2. Deuteronomy 19:15 Lit in the mouth of.
Amplified Bible (AMP)

Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Deuteronomy 19New International Version (NIV)

Cities of Refuge

19 When the Lord your God has destroyed the nations whose land he is giving you, and when you have driven them out and settled in their towns and houses, then set aside for yourselves three cities in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess. Determine the distances involved and divide into three parts the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, so that a person who kills someone may flee for refuge to one of these cities.

This is the rule concerning anyone who kills a person and flees there for safety—anyone who kills a neighbor unintentionally, without malice aforethought. For instance, a man may go into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and as he swings his ax to fell a tree, the head may fly off and hit his neighbor and kill him. That man may flee to one of these cities and save his life. Otherwise, the avenger of blood might pursue him in a rage, overtake him if the distance is too great, and kill him even though he is not deserving of death, since he did it to his neighbor without malice aforethought. This is why I command you to set aside for yourselves three cities.

If the Lord your God enlarges your territory, as he promised on oath to your ancestors, and gives you the whole land he promised them, because you carefully follow all these laws I command you today—to love the Lord your God and to walk always in obedience to him—then you are to set aside three more cities. 10 Do this so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land, which the Lord your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed.

11 But if out of hate someone lies in wait, assaults and kills a neighbor, and then flees to one of these cities, 12 the killer shall be sent for by the town elders, be brought back from the city, and be handed over to the avenger of blood to die. 13 Show no pity. You must purge from Israel the guilt of shedding innocent blood, so that it may go well with you.

14 Do not move your neighbor’s boundary stone set up by your predecessors in the inheritance you receive in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess.

Witnesses

15 One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

16 If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime, 17 the two people involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. 18 The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite, 19 then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. You must purge the evil from among you. 20 The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. 21 Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

New International Version (NIV)

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