Perhaps you threw a rock that was large enough to kill, but it hit someone you didn’t see and killed them. You didn’t plan to kill anyone. You didn’t hate the person you killed—it was only an accident.
“But if it is an accident—a case in which something is thrown unintentionally, or in which a stone is thrown without anger, without realizing it will hit anyone, and without wanting to harm an enemy—yet the man dies,
“If, however, he impulsively pushes someone and there is no history of hard feelings, or he impetuously picks up something and throws it, or he accidentally drops a stone tool—a maul or hammer, say—and it hits and kills someone he didn’t even know was there, and there’s no suspicion that there was bad blood between them, the community is to judge between the killer and the avenger following these guidelines. It’s the task of the community to save the killer from the hand of the avenger—the community is to return him to his asylum-city to which he fled. He must stay there until the death of the High Priest who was anointed with the holy oil. But if the murderer leaves the asylum-city to which he has fled, and the avenger finds him outside the borders of his asylum-city, the avenger has a right to kill the murderer. And he’s not considered guilty of murder.
Sometimes it happens, though, that a person pushes his friend or acquaintance, throws an object, or happens to drop a heavy stone on someone else without any intention of hurting (much less killing) the person, but the other person happens to die from it. The guilty person should be able to take refuge in one of the six designated cities, safe from the one who would avenge the death he caused. Then people from among the greater community shall judge whether it was indeed an accident or not. When the congregation determines it was an accident, the person who accidentally killed shall be saved from the blood avenger. He must live within the city of refuge, though. If he leaves it, the blood avenger is allowed to kill him with impunity because the man knew not to leave his sanctuary city. However, once the anointed high priest of Israel dies, that restriction shall be lifted, and the person who unintentionally killed another may return home, free and clear.
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