1 Jehovah 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.
3 »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 fifteen hundred feet from the city wall.
5 »Outside the city measure off three thousand feet on the east side, three thousand feet on the south side, three thousand feet on the west side, and three thousand 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 forty-two other cities.
7 »You will give a total of forty-eight cities with pastureland to the Levites.
8 »The 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.«
9 Jehovah continued to speak to Moses:
10 »Tell the Israelites: When you cross the Jordan River and enter Canaan,
11 select certain cities to be places of refuge. Anyone who unintentionally kills another person may run to them.
12 »These 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.
13 »There will be six cities you select as places of refuge.
14 »Three will be on the east side of the Jordan River and three in Canaan.
15 »These 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 »If any of you uses an iron weapon to kill another person, you are a murderer. Murderers must be put to death.
17 »If 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.
18 »And 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.
19 »The 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.
20 »If any of you kills someone you hate by shoving him or by deliberately throwing something at him,
21 or 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 »Should you accidentally kill someone who was not your enemy. Maybe you shoved him or threw something at him but did not mean to kill him.
23 »Or if you drop a big stone, and someone is killed. However, you did not know the person was there, he was not your enemy, and you were not trying to harm him.
24 »Then the community must use these rules in order to decide if you are innocent or if the dead persons 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 do not go outside the city of refuge you fled to.
27 »If the relative who can avenge the death finds you outside the city of refuge and kills you, the relative is not guilty of murder.
28 »Accused 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 rules apply to you and your descendants wherever you may live.
30 »Those accused of murder may be found guilty and put to death only on the evidence of two or more witnesses. The evidence of one witness is not sufficient to support an accusation of murder.
31 »Murderers must be put to death. They cannot escape this penalty by the payment of money.
32 »If they have fled to a city of refuge, do not allow them to make a payment in order to return home before the death of the High Priest.
33 »If you did this, you would defile the land where you are living. Murder defiles the land, and except by the death of the murderer there is no way to perform the ritual of purification for the land where someone has been murdered.
34 »Do not defile the land where you are living! I am Jehovah and I live among the people of Israel.«