The Cities of Refuge
(Num 35.9–34; Josh 20.1–9)
1“After the LORD your God has destroyed the people whose land he is giving you and after you have taken their cities and houses and settled there, 2-3divide the territory into three parts, each with a city that can be easily reached. Then anyone who kills someone will be able to escape to one of them for protection. 4If someone accidentally kills someone who is not an enemy, he may escape to any of these cities and be safe. 5For example, if two men go into the forest together to cut wood and if, as one of them is chopping down a tree, the head of the axe comes off the handle and kills the other, he can run to one of those three cities and be safe. 6If there were only one city, the distance to it might be too great, and the relative who is responsible for taking revenge for the killing might catch him and in his anger kill an innocent neighbour. After all, it was by accident that he killed his neighbour who was not his enemy. 7This is why I order you to set aside three cities.
8“When the LORD your God enlarges your territory, as he told your ancestors he would, and gives you all the land he has promised, 9then you are to select three more cities. (He will give you this land if you do everything that I command you today and if you love the LORD your God and live according to his teachings.) 10Do this, so that innocent people will not die and so that you will not be guilty of putting them to death in the land that the LORD is giving you.
11“But suppose someone deliberately murders an enemy in cold blood and then escapes to one of those cities for protection. 12In that case, the leaders of his own town are to send for him and hand him over to the relative responsible for taking revenge for the murder, so that he may be put to death. 13Show him no mercy. Rid Israel of this murderer, so that all will go well with you.
14 # Deut 27.17 “Do not move your neighbour's boundary mark, established long ago in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
15 # Num 35.30; Deut 17.6; Mt 18.16; Jn 8.17; 2 Cor 13.1; 1 Tim 5.19; Heb 10.28 “One witness is not enough to convict a man of a crime; at least two witnesses are necessary to prove that a man is guilty. 16If someone tries to harm someone else by false accusation, 17both are to go to the one place of worship and be judged by the priests and judges who are then in office. 18The judges will investigate the case thoroughly; and if someone has made a false accusation against a fellow-Israelite, 19that person is to receive the punishment the accused would have received. In this way you will get rid of this evil. 20Then everyone else will hear what happened; they will be afraid, and no one will ever again do such an evil thing. 21#Ex 21.23–25; Lev 24.19–20; Mt 5.38In such cases show no mercy; the punishment is to be a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, and a foot for a foot.