Cities of Safety
20 Then the Lord said to Joshua: 2 “Tell the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] to ·choose [designate] the special cities of ·safety [refuge], as I had Moses command you to do [Num. 35:1–8]. 3 If a person kills someone accidentally and without meaning to kill him, that person may go to a city of ·safety [refuge] to hide. There the killer will be safe from the ·relative who has the duty of punishing a murderer [near-relative; L avenger of blood].
4 “When the killer ·runs [flees] to one of those cities, he must stop at the entrance ·gate [L of the city gate], stand there, and tell the ·leaders of the people [L elders of that city] what happened [C the council of leaders met at the city gate and held trials there; Deut. 21:19; Ruth 4:1]. Then that person will be allowed to enter the city and will be given a place to live among them. 5 But if the ·one who is chasing him [near-relative; L avenger of blood] follows him to that city, ·the leaders of the city [L they] must not hand over the ·killer [manslayer]. It was an accident. He did not hate him beforehand or kill him on purpose. 6 ·The killer [L He] must stay in the city until ·a court comes to a decision [L he stands before the congregation for judgment] and until the high priest dies [Num. 35:25–28; C the high priest’s death may have marked a general amnesty]. Then he may go back home to the town from which he ran away.”
7 So the Israelites chose these cities to be cities of ·safety [refuge]: Kedesh in Galilee in the ·mountains [hill country] of Naphtali; Shechem in the ·mountains [hill country] of Ephraim; Kiriath Arba (also called Hebron) in the ·mountains [hill country] of Judah; 8 Bezer ·on the east side of the Jordan River near [L beyond the Jordan east of] Jericho in the ·desert [wilderness plain] in the land of Reuben; Ramoth in Gilead in the land of Gad; and Golan in Bashan in the land of Manasseh. 9 Any Israelite or ·anyone living among them [resident alien; sojourner] who killed someone accidentally was to be allowed to run to one of these cities of ·safety [refuge]. There he would not be killed, before he ·was judged [L stood before the congregation], by the ·relative who had the duty of punishing a murderer [near-relative; L avenger of blood].