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Three Cities of Refuge(A)

19 “When the Lord your God (B)has cut off the nations whose land the Lord your God is giving you, and you dispossess them and dwell in their cities and in their houses, (C)you shall separate three cities for yourself in the midst of your land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess. You shall prepare roads for yourself, and divide into three parts the territory of your land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, that any manslayer may flee there.

“And (D)this is the case of the manslayer who flees there, that he may live: Whoever kills his neighbor [a]unintentionally, not having hated him in time past— as when a man goes to the woods with his neighbor to cut timber, and his hand swings a stroke with the ax to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies—he shall flee to one of these cities and live; (E)lest the avenger of blood, while his anger is hot, pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and kill him, though he was not deserving of death, since he had not hated the victim in time past. Therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall separate three cities for yourself.’

“Now if the Lord your God (F)enlarges your territory, as He swore to (G)your fathers, and gives you the land which He promised to give to your fathers, and if you keep all these commandments and do them, which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and to walk always in His ways, (H)then you shall add three more cities for yourself besides these three, 10 (I)lest innocent blood be shed in the midst of your land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and thus guilt of bloodshed be upon you.

11 “But (J)if anyone hates his neighbor, lies in wait for him, rises against him and strikes him mortally, so that he dies, and he flees to one of these cities, 12 then the elders of his city shall send and bring him from there, and deliver him over to the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. 13 (K)Your eye shall not pity him, (L)but you shall [b]put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with you.

Property Boundaries

14 (M)“You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.

The Law Concerning Witnesses

15 (N)“One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. 16 If a false witness (O)rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, 17 then both men in the controversy shall stand before the Lord, (P)before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. 18 And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, 19 (Q)then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so (R)you shall put away the evil from among you. 20 (S)And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you. 21 (T)Your eye shall not pity: (U)life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

Footnotes

  1. Deuteronomy 19:4 ignorantly, lit. without knowledge
  2. Deuteronomy 19:13 purge the blood of the innocent

Cities of Refuge(A)

19 When the Lord your God has destroyed the nations whose land he is giving you, and when you have driven them out and settled in their towns and houses,(B) then set aside for yourselves three cities in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess. Determine the distances involved and divide into three parts the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, so that a person who kills someone may flee for refuge to one of these cities.

This is the rule concerning anyone who kills a person and flees there for safety—anyone who kills a neighbor unintentionally, without malice aforethought. For instance, a man may go into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and as he swings his ax to fell a tree, the head may fly off and hit his neighbor and kill him. That man may flee to one of these cities and save his life. Otherwise, the avenger of blood(C) might pursue him in a rage, overtake him if the distance is too great, and kill him even though he is not deserving of death, since he did it to his neighbor without malice aforethought. This is why I command you to set aside for yourselves three cities.

If the Lord your God enlarges your territory,(D) as he promised(E) on oath to your ancestors, and gives you the whole land he promised them, because you carefully follow all these laws I command you today—to love the Lord your God and to walk always in obedience to him(F)—then you are to set aside three more cities. 10 Do this so that innocent blood(G) will not be shed in your land, which the Lord your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed.(H)

11 But if out of hate someone lies in wait, assaults and kills a neighbor,(I) and then flees to one of these cities, 12 the killer shall be sent for by the town elders, be brought back from the city, and be handed over to the avenger of blood to die. 13 Show no pity.(J) You must purge from Israel the guilt of shedding innocent blood,(K) so that it may go well with you.

14 Do not move your neighbor’s boundary stone set up by your predecessors in the inheritance you receive in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess.(L)

Witnesses

15 One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.(M)

16 If a malicious witness(N) takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime, 17 the two people involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and the judges(O) who are in office at the time. 18 The judges must make a thorough investigation,(P) and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite, 19 then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party.(Q) You must purge the evil from among you. 20 The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid,(R) and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. 21 Show no pity:(S) life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.(T)

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