Cities for the Levites
35 Then the Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan [across from] Jericho, saying, 2 “Command the Israelites to give to the Levites cities to live in from the inheritance of their possession; and you shall give to the Levites pasture lands around the cities. 3 The cities shall be theirs to live in; and their pasture lands shall be for their cattle and for their herds and for all their livestock.
4 “The pasture lands around the cities which you shall give to the Levites shall reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits (1,500 ft.) around. 5 You shall also measure outside the city on the east, south, west, and north sides two thousand cubits (3,000 ft.), with the city in the center. This shall belong to the Levites as pasture lands for the cities.
Cities of Refuge
6 [Among] the cities which you give to the Levites shall be the six cities of refuge, which you shall provide for the one who commits manslaughter to flee to; and in addition to them you shall give forty-two cities [to the Levites]. 7 So you shall give to the Levites forty-eight cities in all, together with their pasture lands. 8 As for the cities which you shall give from the possession of the Israelites, from the larger tribes you shall take many and from the smaller tribes few; each tribe shall give [at least some] of its cities to the Levites in proportion to [the size of] its inheritance which it possesses.”
9 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 10 “Tell the Israelites, ‘When you cross the Jordan [River] into the land of Canaan, 11 then you shall select for yourselves cities to be cities of refuge, so that the one who kills any person unintentionally may escape there. 12 The cities shall be to you as a refuge from the avenger, so that the one who has caused the death of another will not be killed until he has had a [fair] trial before the congregation. 13 The cities which you are to provide shall be your six cities of refuge. 14 You shall provide three cities on this [east] side of the Jordan [River], and three [more] cities in the land of Canaan; they are to be the cities of refuge. 15 These six cities shall be a refuge for the Israelites and for the stranger and the resident alien among them; so that anyone who kills a person unintentionally may escape there.
16 ‘But if he struck [a]his victim down [intentionally] with an iron object so that he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall certainly be put to death. 17 If he struck his victim down [intentionally] with a stone in hand, which may cause a person to die, and he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall certainly be put to death. 18 Or if he struck his victim down [intentionally] with a wooden object in hand, which may cause a person to die, and he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall certainly be put to death. 19 The blood avenger shall himself put the murderer to death; he shall put him to death when he meets him. 20 But if he pushed his victim out of hatred or threw something at him with malicious intent, and he died, 21 or if, in enmity, he struck the victim down with his hand, and he died, the one that struck the victim shall certainly be put to death; he is a murderer. The blood avenger shall put the murderer to death when he meets him.
22 ‘But if he pushed the victim suddenly, not in enmity, or threw anything at him without malicious intent, 23 or without seeing him hit him [accidentally] with a stone object that could kill him, and he died, and [the offender] was not his enemy nor intending to harm him, 24 then the congregation shall judge between the offender and the blood avenger according to these ordinances. 25 The congregation shall rescue the offender from the hand of the blood avenger and return him to his city of refuge, [the place] to which he had escaped; and he shall live there until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the sacred oil. 26 But if at any time the one guilty of manslaughter comes outside the border of his city of refuge to which he fled, 27 and the blood avenger finds him outside the border of his city of refuge and kills the offender, the blood avenger will not be guilty of murder, 28 because the offender should have remained in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest. But after the high priest’s death the offender shall return to the land of his possession.
29 ‘These things shall be a statute for you throughout your generations wherever you may be.
30 ‘If anyone kills a person [intentionally], the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of [two or more] witnesses; but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of [only] one witness. 31 Moreover, you shall not accept a ransom [in exchange] for the life of a murderer guilty and sentenced to death; but he shall certainly be put to death. 32 You shall not accept a ransom for him who has escaped to his city of refuge, so that he may return to live in his [own] land before the death of the high priest. 33 So you shall not pollute and defile the land in which you live; for [the shedding of innocent] blood pollutes and defiles the land. No atonement (expiation) can be made for the land for the [innocent] blood shed in it, except by the blood (execution) of him who shed it. 34 You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I live, for I, the Lord, live among the people of Israel.’”
- Numbers 35:16 Lit him, and so throughout.
New International Version
Towns for the Levites
35 On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho,(A) the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Command the Israelites to give the Levites towns to live in(B) from the inheritance the Israelites will possess. And give them pasturelands(C) around the towns. 3 Then they will have towns to live in and pasturelands for the cattle they own and all their other animals.(D)
4 “The pasturelands around the towns that you give the Levites will extend a thousand cubits[a] from the town wall. 5 Outside the town, measure two thousand cubits[b](E) 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.(F)
Cities of Refuge(G)
6 “Six of the towns you give the Levites will be cities of refuge, to which a person who has killed someone may flee.(H) In addition, give them forty-two other towns. 7 In all you must give the Levites forty-eight towns, together with their pasturelands. 8 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.”(I)
9 Then the Lord said to Moses: 10 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan,(J) 11 select some towns to be your cities of refuge, to which a person who has killed someone(K) accidentally(L) may flee. 12 They will be places of refuge from the avenger,(M) so that anyone accused of murder(N) may not die before they stand trial before the assembly.(O) 13 These six towns you give will be your cities of refuge.(P) 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.(Q) 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(R) shall put the murderer to death; when the avenger comes upon the murderer, the avenger shall put the murderer to death.(S) 20 If anyone with malice aforethought shoves another or throws something at them intentionally(T) 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;(U) that person is a murderer. The avenger of blood(V) shall put the murderer to death when they meet.
22 “‘But if without enmity someone suddenly pushes another or throws something at them unintentionally(W) 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(X) 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,(Y) who was anointed(Z) with the holy oil.(AA)
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.
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.(AE)
31 “‘Do not accept a ransom(AF) 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,(AG) 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(AH) where you live and where I dwell,(AI) for I, the Lord, dwell among the Israelites.’”