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Numbers 35 Common English Bible (CEB)

Cities and pastures of the Levites

35 The Lord spoke to Moses in the Moab plains by the Jordan across from Jericho: Command the Israelites that they give cities from their inherited property to the Levites in which to live. You will also give the Levites pastures around their cities. The cities will be theirs in which to live. Their pastures will be for their cattle, their possessions, and all their animals. The pastures of the cities that you must give to the Levites will extend from the wall of the city outward for one thousand five hundred feet in all directions. You will measure outside the city on the east side three thousand feet, on the south side three thousand feet, on the west side three thousand feet, and on the north side three thousand feet, with the city in the middle. These will be their cities’ pastures.

Six of the cities that you give to the Levites will be refuge cities. You will allow the person who kills someone to flee there. In addition to these you will give them forty-two cities. All the cities that you give to the Levites will total forty-eight, along with their pastures. As for the cities that you give from the property of the Israelites, you will take more from the larger tribes and less from the smaller. Each in proportion to its inheritance will give cities to the Levites.

Refuge cities

The Lord spoke to Moses: 10 Speak to the Israelites and say to them: When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 11 identify for yourselves cities to be refuge cities, where a person who kills someone by accident may flee. 12 The cities will be for you a place of refuge from the close relative of the dead. The person who killed someone may not be put to death until he stands before the community for judgment. 13 You will establish six refuge cities for yourselves. 14 You will establish three cities across the Jordan and three cities in the land of Canaan. They will be the refuge cities. 15 These six cities will be refuge for Israelites, immigrants, and temporary residents, as a place to flee for anyone who kills a person by accident.

16 But if someone strikes a person with an iron object and he dies, he is a murderer. The murderer must definitely be put to death. 17 If someone strikes another with a stone in hand that could cause death and he dies, he is a murderer. The murderer must definitely be put to death. 18 Or if someone strikes with a wood object in hand that could cause death, he is a murderer. The murderer must definitely be put to death. 19 The close relative responsible for the blood[a] of the dead is the one who will put the murderer to death. When he meets him, he will execute him. 20 If in hatred someone hits another or throws something at him with premeditation, he will be put to death. 21 Or if in hostility someone strikes another with his hand and he dies, the one who struck is a murderer and he will be put to death. The close relative will put the murderer to death when he meets him.

22 But if suddenly and without hostility someone hits another or throws any object at him without premeditation, 23 or accidentally drops any stone on him that could cause death and he dies—even though they weren’t enemies and no evil was intended— 24 then the community must come to a verdict between the killer and the close relative in accordance with these case laws. 25 The community will protect the killer from the hand of the close relative and return him to the refuge city where he fled. He will live there until the death of the high priest who was anointed with holy oil. 26 But if the killer ever goes outside the boundaries of the refuge city where he fled 27 and the close relative finds him outside the boundary of his refuge city and kills him, he will not be responsible for his blood. 28 The killer must live in his refuge city until the high priest’s death. After the high priest’s death the killer may return to the land he owns.

29 These will be the regulations and case laws for all time in all your settlements.

30 Anyone who kills another will be executed on the evidence of witnesses. But one witness alone cannot testify against a person for a death sentence. 31 You may not accept a ransom for the life of a killer, who is guilty of a capital crime, for he must definitely be put to death. 32 You may not accept a ransom for someone who has fled to his refuge city so that he can return and live in the land before the priest’s death. 33 You may not pollute the land in which you live, for the blood pollutes the land. There can be no recovery[b] for the land from the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it. 34 You will not make the land in which you live unclean, the land in the middle of which I reside, for I the Lord reside among the Israelites.

Footnotes:

  1. Numbers 35:19 Or (here and throughout Num 36) the close relative of the blood
  2. Numbers 35:33 Or reconciliation
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Numbers 35 New International Version (NIV)

Towns for the Levites

35 On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho, the Lord said to Moses, “Command the Israelites to give the Levites towns to live in from the inheritance the Israelites will possess. And give them pasturelands around the towns. Then they will have towns to live in and pasturelands for the cattle they own and all their other animals.

“The pasturelands around the towns that you give the Levites will extend a thousand cubits[a] from the town wall. Outside the town, measure two thousand cubits[b] on the east side, two thousand on the south side, two thousand on the west and two thousand on the north, with the town in the center. They will have this area as pastureland for the towns.

Cities of Refuge

“Six of the towns you give the Levites will be cities of refuge, to which a person who has killed someone may flee. In addition, give them forty-two other towns. In all you must give the Levites forty-eight towns, together with their pasturelands. The towns you give the Levites from the land the Israelites possess are to be given in proportion to the inheritance of each tribe: Take many towns from a tribe that has many, but few from one that has few.”

Then the Lord said to Moses: 10 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, 11 select some towns to be your cities of refuge, to which a person who has killed someone accidentally may flee. 12 They will be places of refuge from the avenger, so that anyone accused of murder may not die before they stand trial before the assembly. 13 These six towns you give will be your cities of refuge. 14 Give three on this side of the Jordan and three in Canaan as cities of refuge. 15 These six towns will be a place of refuge for Israelites and for foreigners residing among them, so that anyone who has killed another accidentally can flee there.

16 “‘If anyone strikes someone a fatal blow with an iron object, that person is a murderer; the murderer is to be put to death. 17 Or if anyone is holding a stone and strikes someone a fatal blow with it, that person is a murderer; the murderer is to be put to death. 18 Or if anyone is holding a wooden object and strikes someone a fatal blow with it, that person is a murderer; the murderer is to be put to death. 19 The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death; when the avenger comes upon the murderer, the avenger shall put the murderer to death. 20 If anyone with malice aforethought shoves another or throws something at them intentionally so that they die 21 or if out of enmity one person hits another with their fist so that the other dies, that person is to be put to death; that person is a murderer. The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death when they meet.

22 “‘But if without enmity someone suddenly pushes another or throws something at them unintentionally 23 or, without seeing them, drops on them a stone heavy enough to kill them, and they die, then since that other person was not an enemy and no harm was intended, 24 the assembly must judge between the accused and the avenger of blood according to these regulations. 25 The assembly must protect the one accused of murder from the avenger of blood and send the accused back to the city of refuge to which they fled. The accused must stay there until the death of the high priest, who was anointed with the holy oil.

26 “‘But if the accused ever goes outside the limits of the city of refuge to which they fled 27 and the avenger of blood finds them outside the city, the avenger of blood may kill the accused without being guilty of murder. 28 The accused must stay in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest; only after the death of the high priest may they return to their own property.

29 “‘This is to have the force of law for you throughout the generations to come, wherever you live.

30 “‘Anyone who kills a person is to be put to death as a murderer only on the testimony of witnesses. But no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.

31 “‘Do not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer, who deserves to die. They are to be put to death.

32 “‘Do not accept a ransom for anyone who has fled to a city of refuge and so allow them to go back and live on their own land before the death of the high priest.

33 “‘Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it. 34 Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell, for I, the Lord, dwell among the Israelites.’”

Footnotes:

  1. Numbers 35:4 That is, about 1,500 feet or about 450 meters
  2. Numbers 35:5 That is, about 3,000 feet or about 900 meters
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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