1The Lord your God will destroy the nations whose land he is giving you. You will drive them out. And you will settle down in their towns and houses.2When you do, set apart for yourselves three cities in the land. It's the land the Lord your God is giving you to take as your own.3Build roads to those cities and separate the land into three parts. Then anyone who kills another person can run to one of the cities for safety. They are in the land the Lord your God is giving you as your own.4Here is the rule about a person who kills someone. That person can run to one of those cities for safety. The rule applies to all those who kill a neighbor they didn't hate and didn't mean to kill.5For example, suppose a man goes into a forest with his neighbor to cut wood. When he swings his ax to chop down a tree, the head of the ax flies off. And it hits his neighbor and kills him. Then that man can run to one of those cities and save his life.6If he doesn't go to one of those cities, the dead man's nearest male relative might become very angry. He might chase the man. If the city is too far away, he might catch him and kill him. But he isn't worthy of death, because he didn't hate his neighbor.7That's why I command you to set apart for yourselves three cities.8The Lord your God will increase the size of your territory. He took an oath and promised your fathers he would do it. He will give you the whole land he promised them.9But he'll do it only if you are careful to obey all of the laws I'm commanding you today. I'm commanding you to love the Lord your God. I want you to live always as he wants you to live. When he gives you additional land, you must set apart three more cities.10Do it so the blood of those who aren't guilty of murder won't be spilled in your land. It's the land the Lord your God is giving you as your own.11But suppose a man hates his neighbor. So he hides and waits for him. Then he attacks him and kills him. And he runs to one of those cities for safety.12If he does, the elders of his own town must send for him. He must be brought back from the city and handed over to the dead man's nearest male relative. The relative will kill him.13Don't feel sorry for him. He has killed someone who hadn't done anything wrong. Crimes like that must be punished in Israel. Then things will go well with you.14Don't move your neighbor's boundary stone. It was set up by people who lived there before you. It marks the border of a field in the land you will receive as your own. The Lord your God is giving you that land. You will take it over.
15Suppose someone is charged with committing a crime of any kind. Then one witness won't be enough to prove he is guilty. Every matter must be proved by the words of two or three witnesses.16Suppose a witness who tells lies goes to court and brings charges against someone. The witness says that person committed a crime.17Then the two people in the case must stand in front of the Lord. They must stand in front of the priests and the judges who are in office at that time.18The judges must check out the matter carefully. And suppose the witness is proved to be lying. Then he has given false witness against another Israelite.19So do to the lying witness what he tried to do to the other person. Get rid of that evil person.20The rest of the people will hear about it. And they will be afraid. They won't allow such an evil thing to be done among them again.21Don't feel sorry for that evil person. A life must be taken for a life. An eye must be put out for an eye. A tooth must be knocked out for a tooth. A hand must be cut off for a hand and a foot for a foot.
English Standard Version
Laws Concerning Cities of Refuge
1“When the Lord your God cuts 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, (De 12:29)2you shall set apart three cities for yourselves in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess. (Ex 21:13; Nu 35:10; Nu 35:14; Jos 20:2; Jos 20:8)3You shall measure the distances and divide into three parts the area of the land that the Lord your God gives you as a possession, so that any manslayer can flee to them.4“This is the provision for the manslayer, who by fleeing there may save his life. If anyone kills his neighbor unintentionally without having hated him in the past— (Nu 35:15; De 4:42; Jos 20:3; Jos 20:5)5as when someone goes into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down a tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies—he may flee to one of these cities and live,6lest the avenger of blood in hot anger pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and strike him fatally, though the man did not deserve to die, since he had not hated his neighbor in the past. (Nu 35:12; Nu 35:19; Nu 35:21; Nu 35:24; Nu 35:27)7Therefore I command you, You shall set apart three cities.8And if the Lord your God enlarges your territory, as he has sworn to your fathers, and gives you all the land that he promised to give to your fathers— (Ge 15:18; Ex 23:31; Ex 34:24; De 12:20)9provided you are careful to keep all this commandment, which I command you today, by loving the Lord your God and by walking ever in his ways—then you shall add three other cities to these three, (De 19:2; Jos 20:7)10lest innocent blood be shed in your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, and so the guilt of bloodshed be upon you.11“But if anyone hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him and attacks him and strikes him fatally so that he dies, and he flees into one of these cities, (Ex 21:12; Ex 21:14; Nu 35:16; De 27:24)12then the elders of his city shall send and take him from there, and hand him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may die.13Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, so that it may be well with you. (Nu 35:33; De 7:16; De 21:9; 1Ki 2:31)
14“You shall not move your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in the inheritance that you will hold in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess. (De 27:17; Job 24:2; Pr 22:28; Pr 23:10; Ho 5:10)
Laws Concerning Witnesses
15“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. (Nu 35:30; Mt 18:16; 2Co 13:1)16If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, (Ex 23:1; Ps 35:11)17then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. (De 17:8; De 21:5)18The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, (De 13:14; De 17:4)19then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Pr 19:5; Pr 19:9; Da 6:24)20And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. (De 13:11)21Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Ex 21:23; De 19:13)