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Cities of Refuge Are Established

20 And Yahweh spoke to Joshua, saying, “Speak to the Israelites,[a] saying, ‘Appoint for yourselves cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through the hand of Moses. Anyone who kills a person by accident or unintentionally[b] may flee there; they will be for yourselves a refuge from the avenger of blood. The killer will flee to one of these cities, stand at the entrance of the gate of the city, and state his case to the elders of that city;[c] and they will take him[d] into the city and give him a place, and he will dwell among them. And if the avenger of blood pursues after him, they will not hand over the killer into his hand, because he killed his neighbor unintentionally, and he did not hate him previously.[e] The killer will stay in that city until he stands before the congregation for the trial, until the death of the one who is the high priest in those days. Then the killer will return[f] to his city and to his house, to the city from which he fled.’”

So they set apart[g] Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath Arba[h] (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah. Beyond the Jordan east of Jericho, they appointed Bezer in the wilderness on the plateau, from the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead, from the tribe of Gad, and Golan in the Bashan, from the tribe of Manasseh. These were the cities designated for all the Israelites,[i] and for the foreigners[j] dwelling among them, for anyone that kills a person unintentionally to flee there, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, until there is a trial[k] before the congregation.


  1. Joshua 20:2 Literally “sons/children of Israel”
  2. Joshua 20:3 Or “by not knowing”
  3. Joshua 20:4 Literally “he will speak his words in the ears of the elders of that city”
  4. Joshua 20:4 Or “they will gather him”
  5. Joshua 20:5 Literally “he did not hate him since yesterday and the day before that”
  6. Joshua 20:6 Literally “the killer will return and go”
  7. Joshua 20:7 Or “consecrated”
  8. Joshua 20:7 Or “the city of Arba”
  9. Joshua 20:9 Literally “sons/children of Israel”
  10. Joshua 20:9 Hebrew “foreigner”
  11. Joshua 20:9 Literally “until he stands”