1When 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,2then set aside for yourselves three cities in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess.3Determine 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.4This is the rule concerning anyone who kills a person and flees there for safety—anyone who kills a neighbor unintentionally, without malice aforethought.5For 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.6Otherwise, the avenger of blood 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.7This is why I command you to set aside for yourselves three cities.8If the Lord your God enlarges your territory, as he promised on oath to your ancestors, and gives you the whole land he promised them,9because you carefully follow all these laws I command you today—to love the Lord your God and to walk always in obedience to him—then you are to set aside three more cities.10Do this so that innocent blood 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.11But if out of hate someone lies in wait, assaults and kills a neighbor, and then flees to one of these cities,12the 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.13Show no pity. You must purge from Israel the guilt of shedding innocent blood, so that it may go well with you.14Do 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.
15One 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.16If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime,17the two people involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time.18The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite,19then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. You must purge the evil from among you.20The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you.21Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for 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)