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Cities of Safety

19 When the Lord your God gives you land that belongs to the other nations, nations that he will ·destroy [cut off], you will ·force them out [dispossess them] and live in their cities and houses. Then ·choose [set apart; separate] three cities in the middle of the land the Lord your God is giving you as your ·own [possession]. ·Build roads to these cities [or Work out the distances], and divide the land the Lord is giving you into three parts so that someone who kills another person may run to ·these cities [L there].

This is the rule for someone who kills another person and runs to one of these cities in order to save his life [Ex. 21:13–14; Num. 35:6–34; Josh. 20]. But the person must have killed a neighbor ·without meaning to [accidentally; unintentionally], not out of hatred. For example, suppose someone goes into the forest with a neighbor to cut wood and swings an ax to cut down a tree. If the ax head ·flies [slips] off the handle, ·hitting and killing [L finds] the neighbor, the one who killed him may run to one of these cities to save his life. Otherwise, the ·dead person’s relative who has the duty of punishing a murderer [near-kinsman; L avenger of blood] might be angry and chase him. If the city is far away, the relative might ·catch [L pursue and overtake] and kill the person, even though he should not be killed because there was no intent to kill his neighbor. This is why I command you to ·choose [set apart; separate] these three cities.

Carefully obey all these laws I’m ·giving [commanding] you today. Love the Lord your God, and always do what he wants you to do. Then the Lord your God will enlarge your ·land [boundaries] as he ·promised [L swore to] your ·ancestors [fathers], giving you the whole land he promised to them. After that, ·choose three more cities of safety [L add three more cities to these three] 10 so that innocent ·people will not be killed [L blood will not be shed] in your land, the land that the Lord your God is giving you as your ·own [L inheritance]. ·By doing this you will not be guilty of allowing the death of innocent people [L …bringing bloodguilt on you].

11 But if a person hates his neighbor and, after ·hiding and waiting [lying in wait], ·attacks [L rises up] and ·kills [L strikes] him and then runs to one of these cities for safety, 12 the elders of his own city should send for the murderer. They should bring the person back from the city of safety and hand him over to the ·relative who has the duty of punishing the murderer [near-kinsman; L avenger of blood]. 13 ·Show no mercy [L Do not let your eyes show compassion on him]. You must ·remove [banish; purge] from Israel the ·guilt of murdering [L blood of] innocent people so that things will go well for you.

14 Do not move the ·stone that marks the border [boundary marker] of your neighbor’s land, which people long ago set in place [27:17; Job 24:2–4; Prov. 23:10–11; Hos. 5:10]. It marks what you inherit in the land the Lord your God is giving you as your ·own [possession].

Rules About Witnesses

15 One witness is not enough to accuse a person of a crime or sin. A case must be proved by two or three witnesses [17:6; Num. 35:30].

16 If a witness ·lies [is malicious/unjust] and accuses a person of a crime, 17 the two people who are arguing must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and judges who are ·on duty [in office in those days]. 18 The judges must check the matter carefully. The witness who is a liar, lying about a ·fellow Israelite [relative; brother], 19 must be punished. He must be punished in the same way the ·other person [relative; brother] would have been punished. You must ·get rid of [banish; purge] the evil among you. 20 The rest of the people will hear about this and be afraid, and no one among you will ever do such an evil thing again. 21 ·Show no mercy [L Do not let your eyes show compassion on him]. A life must be paid for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot [Ex. 21:24–25; Lev. 24:17–20].