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The Cities of Refuge

20 Then Yahweh spoke to Joshua, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘[a]Designate (A)the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you by the hand of Moses, that the manslayer who strikes down any person unintentionally, without premeditation, may flee there, and they shall become for you as a refuge from the avenger of blood. And he shall flee to one of these cities and shall stand at the entrance of the (B)gate of the city and speak his case in the hearing of the elders of that city; and they shall [b]take him into the city to them and give him a place, so that he may live among them. Now (C)if the avenger of blood pursues him, then they shall not surrender the manslayer into his hand because he struck his neighbor without premeditation and did not hate him beforehand. And he shall live in that city (D)until he stands before the congregation for judgment, until the death of the one who is high priest in those days. Then the manslayer shall return and come to his own city and to his own house, to the city from which he fled.’”

So they [c]set apart (E)Kedesh in [d]Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali and Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in (F)the hill country of Judah. Now beyond the Jordan east of Jericho, they [e]designated Bezer in the wilderness on the plain from the tribe of Reuben and Ramoth in Gilead from the tribe of Gad and Golan in Bashan from the tribe of Manasseh. (G)These were the appointed cities for all the sons of Israel and for the sojourner who sojourns among them, that whoever strikes down any person unintentionally may flee there and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood until he stands before the congregation.


  1. Joshua 20:2 Lit Set for yourselves
  2. Joshua 20:4 Lit gather
  3. Joshua 20:7 Lit sanctified
  4. Joshua 20:7 Heb Galil
  5. Joshua 20:8 Lit set