1The Lord spoke to Moses on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan opposite Jericho. He told him,
2“Order the Israelites to provide from their land allocation towns for the Levites to live in and pastures around the towns.
3The towns are for them to live in, and the pastures will be for their herds and their flocks—for all their livestock.
4The pastures around the towns you give to the Levites are to extend out from the wall a thousand cubits on all sides.
5Measure two thousand cubits outside the town on the east, two thousand on the south, two thousand on the west, and two thousand on the north, with the town in the middle. These areas will be their pastures around the towns.
6Six of the towns you give the Levites are to be sanctuary towns, where a person who kills someone can run for protection. As well as these towns, give the Levites forty-two more.
7The total number of towns you are to give the Levites is forty-eight, along with their pastures.
8The towns that you allocate to be given to the Levites from the territory of the Israelites will be more from a larger tribe and less from a smaller one. The number will be in proportion to the size of the land allocation of each tribe.”
9The Lord told Moses,
10“Tell the Israelites: ‘When you cross over the Jordan into Canaan,
11choose towns as your sanctuary towns, so a person who kills someone by mistake may run there.
12These towns will be for you places of sanctuary from those seeking revenge, so that the killer will not die until they are tried in court.
13The towns you choose will be your six sanctuary towns.
14Choose three cities on the other side of the Jordan and three in Canaan as cities of refuge.
15These six cities will be places of sanctuary for the Israelites and for foreigners or settlers among them, so that anyone who kills a person by mistake may run there.
16But if anyone deliberately hits someone with something made of iron and kills them, that person is a murderer and must be executed.
17If anyone picks up something made of stone that could be used as a weapon and hits someone with it, and kills them, that person is a murderer and must be executed.
18If anyone picks up something made of wood that could be used as a weapon and hits someone with it, and kills them, that person is a murderer and must be executed.
19The avenger is to execute the murderer. When he finds the murderer, he is to kill him.
20Similarly, if anyone hates someone and knocks them down or deliberately throws something at them, and they're killed;
21or if someone hits another with his hand and they die, the one who hit him must be executed because he is a murderer. When the avenger finds the murderer, he is to kill him.
22But if anyone knocks someone else down without meaning to and without hating them, or throws something at them not meaning to hurt them,
23or carelessly drops a heavy stone that kills them, but not as an enemy or intending to harm them,
24then the community must judge between the killer and the avenger following these regulations.
25The court is to protect the killer from being attacked by the avenger and must return him to the sanctuary town that he ran to, and he must stay there until the death of the high priest, who was anointed with holy oil.
26But if the killer ever leaves the limits of sanctuary town where they ran to,
27and the avenger finds him them outside his sanctuary town and kills him, then the avenger will not be guilty of murder,
28because the killer has to stay in his sanctuary town until the death of the high priest. Only after the death of the high priest are they allowed to return to the land they own.
29These regulations apply to all future generations wherever you live.
30If anyone kills a person, the murderer is to be executed based on the evidence given by witnesses, plural. No one is to be executed based on the evidence given by a single witness.
31You are not to accept payment instead of executing a murderer who has been found guilty—they must be executed.
32Also you are not allowed to accept payment for a person who runs to a sanctuary town and permit them to return and live on their own land before the death of the high priest.
33Don't pollute the land where you live because bloodshed pollutes the land, and the land where blood is shed can't be purified except by the blood of the one who shed it.
34Don't make the land impure where you live because I live there too. I am the Lord, and I live with the Israelites.”