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Deuteronomy 19 New King James Version (NKJV)

Three Cities of Refuge

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 separate three cities for yourself in the midst of your land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess. You shall prepare roads for yourself, and divide into three parts the territory of your land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, that any manslayer may flee there.

“And this is the case of the manslayer who flees there, that he may live: Whoever kills his neighbor [a]unintentionally, not having hated him in time past— as when a man goes to the woods with his neighbor to cut timber, and his hand swings a stroke with the ax to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies—he shall flee to one of these cities and live; lest the avenger of blood, while his anger is hot, pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and kill him, though he was not deserving of death, since he had not hated the victim in time past. Therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall separate three cities for yourself.’

“Now if the Lord your God enlarges your territory, as He swore to your fathers, and gives you the land which He promised to give to your fathers, and if you keep all these commandments and do them, which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and to walk always in His ways, then you shall add three more cities for yourself besides these three, 10 lest innocent blood be shed in the midst of your land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and thus guilt of bloodshed be upon you.

11 “But if anyone hates his neighbor, lies in wait for him, rises against him and strikes him mortally, so that he dies, and he flees to one of these cities, 12 then the elders of his city shall send and bring him from there, and deliver him over to the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. 13 Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall [b]put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with you.

Property Boundaries

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

The Law Concerning Witnesses

15 “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. 16 If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, 17 then both men in the controversy shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. 18 And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, 19 then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you. 20 And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you. 21 Your eye shall not pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

Footnotes:

  1. Deuteronomy 19:4 ignorantly, lit. without knowledge
  2. Deuteronomy 19:13 purge the blood of the innocent
New King James Version (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Deuteronomy 19 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Cities of Refuge

19 When the Lord your God cuts off the nations, whose land the Lord your God gives you, and you dispossess them and settle in their cities and in their houses, you shall set aside three cities for yourself in the midst of your land, which the Lord your God gives you to [a]possess. You shall prepare the [b]roads for yourself, and divide into three parts the territory of your land which the Lord your God will give you as a possession, [c]so that any manslayer may flee there.

Now this is the case of the manslayer who may flee there and live: when he [d]kills his friend [e]unintentionally, [f]not hating him previously— as when a man goes into the forest with his friend to cut wood, and his hand [g]swings the axe to cut down the tree, and the iron head slips off the [h]handle and [i]strikes his friend so that he dies—he may flee to one of these cities and live; otherwise the avenger of blood might pursue the manslayer [j]in the heat of his anger, and overtake him, because the way is long, and [k]take his life, though he was not deserving of death, since he had not hated him previously. Therefore, I command you, saying, ‘You shall set aside three cities for yourself.’

“If the Lord your God enlarges your territory, just as He has sworn to your fathers, and gives you all the land which He [l]promised to give your fathers— if you [m]carefully observe all this commandment which I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in His ways always—then you shall add three more cities for yourself, besides these three. 10 So innocent blood will not be shed in the midst of your land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance, and bloodguiltiness be on you.

11 “But if there is a man who hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him and rises up against him and strikes [n]him so that he dies, and he flees to one of these cities, 12 then the elders of his city shall send and take him from there and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. 13 [o]You shall not pity him, but you shall purge the blood of the innocent from Israel, that it may go well with you.

Laws of Landmark and Testimony

14 You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary mark, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the Lord your God gives you to [p]possess.

15 A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin [q]which he has committed; on the [r]evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed. 16 If a malicious witness rises up against a man to [s]accuse him of [t]wrongdoing, 17 then both the men who have the dispute shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days. 18 The judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness and he has [u]accused his brother falsely, 19 then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. 20 The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you. 21 Thus [v]you shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

Footnotes:

  1. Deuteronomy 19:2 Lit possess it
  2. Deuteronomy 19:3 Lit road
  3. Deuteronomy 19:3 Lit and it shall be for every manslayer to flee there
  4. Deuteronomy 19:4 Lit smites
  5. Deuteronomy 19:4 Lit without knowledge
  6. Deuteronomy 19:4 Lit and he was not hating him previously
  7. Deuteronomy 19:5 Lit is thrust with
  8. Deuteronomy 19:5 Lit wood
  9. Deuteronomy 19:5 Lit finds
  10. Deuteronomy 19:6 Lit while his heart is hot
  11. Deuteronomy 19:6 Lit smite him in the soul
  12. Deuteronomy 19:8 Lit spoke
  13. Deuteronomy 19:9 Lit keep...to do it
  14. Deuteronomy 19:11 Lit him in the soul
  15. Deuteronomy 19:13 Lit Your eye
  16. Deuteronomy 19:14 Lit possess it
  17. Deuteronomy 19:15 Lit in any sin, which he sins
  18. Deuteronomy 19:15 Lit mouth of two witnesses, or by the mouth of three
  19. Deuteronomy 19:16 Lit testify against
  20. Deuteronomy 19:16 Lit turning aside
  21. Deuteronomy 19:18 Lit testified against
  22. Deuteronomy 19:21 Lit your eye
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Deuteronomy 19 Amplified 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 19 New 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)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Deuteronomy 19 King James Version (KJV)

19 When the Lord thy God hath cut off the nations, whose land the Lord thy God giveth thee, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their cities, and in their houses;

Thou shalt separate three cities for thee in the midst of thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.

Thou shalt prepare thee a way, and divide the coasts of thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee to inherit, into three parts, that every slayer may flee thither.

And this is the case of the slayer, which shall flee thither, that he may live: Whoso killeth his neighbour ignorantly, whom he hated not in time past;

As when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbour to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbour, that he die; he shall flee unto one of those cities, and live:

Lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and slay him; whereas he was not worthy of death, inasmuch as he hated him not in time past.

Wherefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt separate three cities for thee.

And if the Lord thy God enlarge thy coast, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, and give thee all the land which he promised to give unto thy fathers;

If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the Lord thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three:

10 That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.

11 But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities:

12 Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.

13 Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.

14 Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour's landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.

15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

16 If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong;

17 Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days;

18 And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother;

19 Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.

20 And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.

21 And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

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