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20 Adonai said to Y’hoshua, “Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘Select the cities of refuge about which I spoke to you through Moshe; so that anyone who kills someone by mistake and unknowingly may escape there; they will serve as refuges for you from the next-of-kin avenger. He is to flee to one of those cities, stand at the entrance to the city gate and state his cause to the city leaders. Then they will bring him into the city with them and give him a place, so that he may live among them. If the next-of-kin avenger pursues him, they are not to hand over the killer to him; because he struck his fellow community member unknowingly and had not hated him previously. So he will live in that city until he stands trial before the community, until the death of the cohen hagadol who is in office at the time. When that time comes, the killer may return to his own city and his own house, to the city from which he fled.’”

So they set apart Kedesh in the Galil, in the hills of Naftali; Sh’khem in the hills of Efrayim; and Kiryat-Arba (that is, Hevron) in the hills of Y’hudah. Beyond the Yarden east of Yericho they selected Betzer in the desert, on the plateau, out of the tribe of Re’uven; Ramot in Gil‘ad out of the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe of M’nasheh.

These were the cities selected for all the people of Isra’el and for the foreigner living among them, so that anyone who kills any person by mistake could flee there and not die at the hand of the next-of-kin avenger prior to standing trial before the community.

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