GOD'S WORD® Translation
1The LORD spoke to Moses on the plains of Moab near the Jordan River across from Jericho. He said, 2"Tell the Israelites to give the Levites some cities from their own property. They must also give the Levites the pastureland around those cities. 3Then the Levites will have cities to live in and pastureland for their cattle, the flocks they own, and any other animals they have.
4"The land around the cities that you give the Levites will extend 1,500 feet from the city wall. 5Outside the city measure off 3,000 feet on the east side, 3,000 feet on the south side, 3,000 feet on the west side, and 3,000 feet on the north side, with the city in the center. This will be their pastureland around the city.
6"Six of the cities you give the Levites will be cities of refuge. You must allow murderers to escape to these cities. In addition, you must also give the Levites 42 other cities. 7So you will give a total of 48 cities with pastureland to the Levites. 8The cities you give the Levites from the property of the other Israelites must be given based on the amount of land each tribe owns. Take more cities from larger tribes and fewer from smaller tribes."
9The LORD said to Moses, 10"Tell the Israelites: When you cross the Jordan River and enter Canaan, 11select certain cities to be places of refuge. Anyone who unintentionally kills another person may run to them. 12These cities will be places of refuge from any relative who can avenge the death. So anyone accused of murder will not have to die until he has had a trial in front of the community. 13There will be six cities you select as places of refuge, 14three on the east side of the Jordan River and three in Canaan. 15These six cities will be places of refuge for Israelites, foreigners, and strangers among you. Anyone who unintentionally kills another person may flee to these cities.
16"But if any of you uses an iron weapon to kill another person, you are a murderer. Murderers must be put to death. 17If any of you picks up a stone as a weapon and uses it to kill another person, you are a murderer. Murderers must be put to death. 18Or if any of you picks up a piece of wood as a weapon and uses it to kill another person, you are a murderer. Murderers must be put to death. 19The relative who can avenge the death must make sure a murderer is put to death. When he catches up with the murderer, he must kill him. 20If any of you kills someone you hate by shoving him or by deliberately throwing something at him, 21or if you beat your enemy to death with your bare hands, you must be put to death. You are a murderer. The relative who can avenge the death must kill you when he catches up with you, because you are a murderer.
22"But suppose you accidentally kill someone who wasn't your enemy. Maybe you shoved him or threw something at him but didn't mean to kill him. 23Or suppose you drop a big stone, and someone is killed. However, you didn't know the person was there, he wasn't your enemy, and you weren't trying to harm him. 24Then the community must use these rules in order to decide if you [are innocent] or if the dead person's relative can avenge the death. 25[If you are innocent,] the community must protect you from that relative. They must take you back to the city of refuge you fled to. You must live there until the death of the chief priest who was anointed with the holy oil. 26"But don't go outside the city of refuge you fled to. 27If the relative who can avenge the death finds you outside the city of refuge and kills you, the relative is not guilty of murder. 28Accused murderers must stay in their city of refuge until the death of the chief priest. They may go back to their own property only after his death.
29"These will be the rules for future generations wherever you live.
30"Whoever kills another person will be put to death as a murderer only on the testimony of more than one witness. No one can be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. 31"Never accept a cash payment in exchange for the life of a convicted murderer who has been given the death penalty. Murderers must be put to death. 32"An accused murderer who has fled to a city of refuge must never go back and live on his own land before the death of the chief priest. Don't accept a cash payment to allow him to do this. 33"You must not pollute the land where you live. Murder is what pollutes the land. The land where a murder was committed can never make peace with the LORD except through the death of the murderer. 34Never make the land where you and I live unclean. I, the LORD, live among the Israelites."