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Cities of Refuge(A)

19 When the Lord your God has cut off the nations, whose land the Lord your God is giving you, and you dispossess them, and dwell in their cities, and in their houses, you shall set apart three cities for yourselves in the midst of your land, which the Lord your God is giving you to possess. You shall prepare a roadway for yourself, and divide the territory of your land into three parts, which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, so that every manslayer may flee there.

This is the word concerning the manslayer who will flee there, so that he may live: Whoever kills his neighbor unintentionally, whom he did not hate previously, like when a man goes into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and his hand raises the axe to cut down the tree, and the axe head slips from the handle and lands on his neighbor causing him to die, then he may flee to one of those cities, and live. Otherwise the avenger of blood might, while he is angry, pursue the manslayer and overtake him (because the way is long) and kill him, even though he was not worthy of death (since he did not hate him previously). Therefore, I command you, saying, “You shall set apart three cities for yourselves.”

If the Lord your God enlarges your borders as He promised your fathers, and gives you all the land which He promised to give to your fathers, and if you will carefully keep all these commandments, which I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to always walk in His ways, then you must add three cities more for yourself, besides these three. 10 Then innocent blood will not be shed in your land, which the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, and blood guiltiness be on you.

11 But if any man hates his neighbor, and lies in wait for him, and rises up against him, and mortally strikes him, causing him to die, and flees to one of these cities, 12 then the elders of his city must send and fetch him from there, and deliver him to the hand of the avenger of blood, so that he may die. 13 Your eye must not pity him, but you must remove the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, so that it may go well with you.

14 You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which they of old time have set in your inheritance, which you shall inherit in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.


15 A single witness must not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin that he sins. At the testimony of two witnesses or at the testimony of three witnesses shall the matter be established.

16 If a false witness rises up against any man to testify against him to accuse him of doing wrong, 17 then both the men between whom the controversy is must stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, who are in office those days. 18 The judges will thoroughly investigate, and if the witness is a false witness and has testified falsely against his brother, 19 then you must do to him as he conspired to have done to his brother. In this way you must remove the evil from among you. 20 Those who remain will hear and fear, and will never again commit any such evil among you. 21 You must not show pity. But life will be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.