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11 then you shall select cities to be cities of refuge for you, so that a slayer who kills a person without intent may flee there.

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13 If it was not premeditated, but came about by an act of God, then I will appoint for you a place to which the killer may flee.

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“Say to the Israelites, ‘Appoint the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses,

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The towns that you give to the Levites shall include the six cities of refuge, where you shall permit a slayer to flee, and in addition to them you shall give forty-two towns.

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Laws concerning the 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 have dispossessed them and settled in their towns and in their houses, you shall set apart three cities in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess. You shall calculate the distances[a] and divide into three regions the land that the Lord your God gives you as a possession, so that any homicide can flee to one of them.

Now this is the case of a homicide who might flee there and live, that is, someone who has killed another person unintentionally when the two had not been at enmity before: Suppose someone goes into the forest with another to cut wood, and when one of them swings the ax to cut down a tree, the head slips from the handle and strikes the other person who then dies; the killer may flee to one of these cities and live. But if the distance is too great, the avenger of blood in hot anger might pursue and overtake and put the killer to death, although a death sentence was not deserved, since the two had not been at enmity before. Therefore I command you: You shall set apart three cities.

If the Lord your God enlarges your territory, as he swore to your ancestors—and he will give you all the land that he promised your ancestors to give you, provided you diligently observe this entire commandment that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God and walking always in his ways—then you shall add three more cities to these three, 10 so that the blood of an innocent person may not be shed in the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, thereby bringing bloodguilt upon you.

11 But if someone at enmity with another lies in wait and attacks and takes the life of that person, and flees into one of these cities, 12 then the elders of the killer’s city shall send to have the culprit taken from there and handed over to the avenger of blood to be put to death. 13 Show no pity; you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, so that it may go well with you.

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Footnotes

  1. Deuteronomy 19:3 Or prepare roads to them

42 to which a homicide could flee, someone who unintentionally kills another person, the two not having been at enmity before; the homicide could flee to one of these cities and live:

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22 But if someone pushes another suddenly without enmity, or hurls any object without lying in wait, 23 or, while handling any stone that could cause death, unintentionally[a] drops it on another and death ensues, though they were not enemies, and no harm was intended, 24 then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the avenger of blood, in accordance with these ordinances; 25 and the congregation shall rescue the slayer from the avenger of blood. Then the congregation shall send the slayer back to the original city of refuge. The slayer shall live in it until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil.

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Footnotes

  1. Numbers 35:23 Heb without seeing

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