Cities of Refuge

1 When the Lord your God destroys the nations whose land the Lord your God is giving you, and you dispossess them and dwell in their cities and in their houses, 2 you shall set apart three cities for yourselves in the midst of your land, which the Lord your God is giving you to possess. 3 You shall prepare the way and divide the borders of your land which the Lord your God is causing you to inherit into three parts, that anyone who kills a man unintentionally may flee there.

4 This is the case of the man who has killed someone who shall flee there and live: Whoever kills his neighbor unintentionally and without malice— 5 as when a man goes into the forest with his neighbor to chop wood and his hand swings the ax to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle and hits his neighbor so that he dies—he shall flee to one of these cities and live. 6 Otherwise, the avenger of blood might pursue the killer while hot anger is in his heart and overtake him, because the way is long, and strike him mortally, even though he was not worthy of death, because he did not hate him in the past. 7 Therefore I command you to set apart three cities for yourselves.

8 If the Lord your God enlarges your border, as he has sworn to your fathers and gives you all of the land which he promised to give to your fathers. 9 and if you keep all of these commandments which I am giving you today and do them, to love the Lord your God and to always walk in his ways, then you shall add three cities more for yourselves, in addition to these three. 10 This is so that innocent blood will not be shed in the midst of your land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, leaving blood guilt on you.

11 But if any man hates his neighbor, lies in wait for him, rises up against him, strikes him mortally so that he dies, and he flees into one of these cities, 12 then the elders of his city shall send for him and bring him back from there and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. 13 Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall purge the innocent blood from Israel that it may go well with you.

14 You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which they of old time have set, in your inheritance which you shall inherit, in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.

The Testimony of Witnesses

15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity or for any sin that he commits. At the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, a matter shall be established. 16 If an unrighteous witness rises up against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, 17 then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who shall be in those days, 18 and the judges shall make diligent inquisition, and if the witness is a false witness and has testified falsely against his brother, 19 then you shall do to him as he had thought to do to his brother. So you shall remove the evil from among you. 20 Those who remain shall hear, and fear, and will never again commit any such evil among you. 21 Your eyes shall not pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

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