Cities of Refuge(A)

41 Then Moses set aside three cities east of the Jordan, 42 to which anyone who had killed a person could flee if they had unintentionally(B) killed a neighbor without malice aforethought. They could flee into one of these cities and save their life. 43 The cities were these: Bezer in the wilderness plateau, for the Reubenites; Ramoth(C) in Gilead, for the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, for the Manassites.

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Cities of Refuge(A)

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,(B) 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(C) 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,(D) as he promised(E) 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(F)—then you are to set aside three more cities. 10 Do this so that innocent blood(G) 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.(H)

11 But if out of hate someone lies in wait, assaults and kills a neighbor,(I) 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.(J) You must purge from Israel the guilt of shedding innocent blood,(K) 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.(L)

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Cities of Refuge(A)

20 Then the Lord said to Joshua: “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally(B) may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood.(C) When they flee to one of these cities, they are to stand in the entrance of the city gate(D) and state their case before the elders(E) of that city. Then the elders are to admit the fugitive into their city and provide a place to live among them. If the avenger of blood comes in pursuit, the elders must not surrender the fugitive, because the fugitive killed their neighbor unintentionally and without malice aforethought. They are to stay in that city until they have stood trial before the assembly(F) and until the death of the high priest who is serving at that time. Then they may go back to their own home in the town from which they fled.”

So they set apart Kedesh(G) in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, Shechem(H) in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath Arba(I) (that is, Hebron(J)) in the hill country of Judah.(K) East of the Jordan (on the other side from Jericho) they designated Bezer(L) in the wilderness on the plateau in the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead(M) in the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan(N) in the tribe of Manasseh. Any of the Israelites or any foreigner residing among them who killed someone accidentally(O) could flee to these designated cities and not be killed by the avenger of blood prior to standing trial before the assembly.(P)

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