Numbers 35
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Forty-Eight Cities for the Levites
(Joshua 21:1-45; 1 Chronicles 6:54-81)

1Again the LORD spoke to Moses on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho: 2“Command the Israelites to give, from the inheritance they will possess, cities for the Levites to live in and pasturelands around the cities. 3The cities will be for them to live in, and the pasturelands will be for their herds, their flocks, and all their other livestock.

4The pasturelands around the cities you are to give the Levites will extend a thousand cubitsa from the wall on every side. 5You are also to measure two thousand cubitsb outside the city on the east, two thousand on the south, two thousand on the west, and two thousand on the north, with the city in the center. These areas will serve as larger pasturelands for the cities.

Six Cities of Refuge
(Deuteronomy 4:41-43; Deuteronomy 19:1-14; Joshua 20:1-9)

6Six of the cities you give the Levites are to be appointed as cities of refuge, to which a manslayer may flee. In addition to these, give the Levites forty-two other cities. 7The total number of cities you give the Levites will be forty-eight, with their corresponding pasturelands. 8The cities that you apportion from the territory of the Israelites should be given to the Levites in proportion to the inheritance of each tribe: more from a larger tribe and less from a smaller one.”

9Then the LORD said to Moses, 10“Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 11designate cities to serve as your cities of refuge, so that a person who kills someone unintentionally may flee there. 12You are to have these cities as a refuge from the avenger, so that the manslayer will not die until he stands trial before the assembly.

13The cities you select will be your six cities of refuge. 14Select three cities across the Jordan and three in the land of Canaan as cities of refuge. 15These six cities will serve as a refuge for the Israelites and for the foreigner or stranger among them, so that anyone who kills a person unintentionally may flee there.

16If, however, anyone strikes a person with an iron object and kills him, he is a murderer; the murderer must surely be put to death. 17Or if anyone has in his hand a stone of deadly size, and he strikes and kills another, he is a murderer; the murderer must surely be put to death. 18If anyone has in his hand a deadly object of wood, and he strikes and kills another, he is a murderer; the murderer must surely be put to death.

19The avenger of blood is to put the murderer to death; when he finds him, he is to kill him.

20Likewise, if anyone maliciously pushes another or intentionally throws an object at him and kills him, 21or if in hostility he strikes him with his hand and he dies, the one who struck him must surely be put to death; he is a murderer. When the avenger of blood finds the murderer, he is to kill him.

22But if anyone pushes a person suddenly, without hostility, or throws an object at him unintentionally, 23or without looking drops a heavy stone that kills him, but he was not an enemy and did not intend to harm him, 24then the congregation must judge between the slayer and the avenger of blood according to these ordinances. 25The assembly is to protect the manslayer from the hand of the avenger of blood. Then the assembly will return him to the city of refuge to which he fled, and he must live there until the death of the high priest, who was anointed with the holy oil.

26But if the manslayer ever goes outside the limits of the city of refuge to which he fled 27and the avenger of blood finds him outside of his city of refuge and kills him, the avenger will not be guilty of bloodshed 28because the manslayer must remain in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest. Only after the death of the high priest may he return to the land he owns. 29This will be a statutory ordinance for you for the generations to come, wherever you live.

30If anyone kills a person, the murderer is to be put to death on the testimony of the witnesses. But no one is to be put to death based on the testimony of a lone witness.

31You are not to accept a ransom for the life of a murderer who deserves to die; he must surely be put to death. 32Nor should you accept a ransom for the person who flees to a city of refuge and allow him to return and live on his own land before the death of the high priest.

33Do not pollute the land where you live, for bloodshed pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land on which the blood is shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it. 34Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell. For I, the LORD, dwell among the Israelites.”

Footnotes:

4 a That is, approximately 1,500 feet or 457.2 meters
5 b That is, approximately 3,000 feet or 914.4 meters

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