Numbers 35

1The Lord spoke to Moses. This was in the Jordan Valley in Moab, near the Jordan River, across from Jericho. The Lord said, 2“Tell the people of Israel that they should give some of the cities in their part of the land to the Levites. The people of Israel should give those cities and the pastures around them to the Levites. 3The Levites will be able to live in those cities. And all the cows and other animals that belong to the Levites will be able to eat from the pastures around those cities. 4˻How much of your land should you give to the Levites?˼ From the walls of the cities, go out 1,500 feet—all of that land will belong to the Levites. 5˻Also˼ all of the land 3,000 feet east of the city, and 3,000 feet south of the city, and 3,000 feet west of the city, and 3,000 feet north of the city will belong to the Levites. (The city will be in the middle of all that land.) 6Six of those cities will be cities of safety. If a person ˻accidentally˼ kills someone, then that person can run to those towns for safety. In addition to those six cities, you will also give 42 more cities to the Levites. 7So you will give a total of 48 cities to the Levites. You will also give them the land around those cities. 8The large families of Israel ˻will get large pieces of land˼. The small families of Israel ˻will get small pieces of land˼. So the large family groups will give more cities and the small family groups will give fewer cities to the Levites.” 9Then the Lord spoke to Moses. He said, 10“Tell the people these things: You people will cross the Jordan River and go into the land of Canaan. 11You must choose towns to be cities of safety. If a person accidentally kills another person, then that person can run to one of those cities for safety. 12That person will be safe from anyone from the dead man’s family that wants to get even. That person will be safe until he is judged in court. 13There will be six cities of safety. 14Three of those cities will be east of the Jordan River. And three of those cities will be in the land of Canaan, ˻west of the Jordan River˼. 15Those cities will be places of safety for citizens of Israel, and for foreigners and travelers. Any of those people will be able to run to one of those cities if he accidentally kills someone. 16“If a person uses an iron weapon to kill someone, then that person must die. 17And if a person takes a rock and kills someone, then that person must die. (But the rock must be the size of rock that would normally be used for killing people.) 18And if a person uses a piece of wood to kills someone, then that person must die. (The piece of wood must be a weapon that people normally use for killing people.) 19A member of the dead man’s family can chase that murderer and kill him. 20- 21“A person might hit someone with his hand and kill him. Or a person might push someone and kill him. Or a person might throw something at someone and kill him. If the killer did that from hate, then he is a murderer. That person must be killed. A member of the dead man’s family can chase that murderer and kill him. 22“But a person might accidentally kill someone. That person didn’t hate the person he killed—it was only an accident. Or a person might throw something and accidentally kill someone—he didn’t plan to kill anyone. 23Or a person might throw a rock. And that rock might fall on someone that person didn’t see and the rock might kill that person. That person didn’t plan to kill anyone. That person didn’t hate the person he killed—it was only an accident. 24If that happens, then the community must decide what to do. The community’s court must decide if a member of the dead man’s family can kill that person. 25If the community decides to protect the killer from the dead man’s family, then the community must take him back to his city of safety. And the killer must stay there until the official high priest dies. 26- 27“That man must never go outside the limits of his city of safety. If he goes outside those limits, and if a member of the dead man’s family catches him and kills him, then that member won’t be guilty of murder. 28The person who accidentally killed someone must stay in his city of safety until the high priest dies. After the high priest dies, that person can go back to his own land. 29Those rules will be the law forever in all of the towns of your people. 30“A killer should be put to death as a murderer only if there are witnesses. No person can be put to death if there is only one witness. 31“If a person is a murderer, then he must be put to death. Don’t take money and change his punishment. That murderer must be killed. 32“If a person killed someone and then ran to one of the cities of safety, then don’t take money to let him go home. That person must stay in that city until the high priest dies. 33“Don’t let your land be ruined with innocent blood. If a person murders someone, then the only payment for that crime is that the murderer must be killed! There is no other payment that will free the land from that crime. 34I am the Lord! I will be living in your country with the people of Israel. I will be living there, so don’t make it unclean ˻with the blood of innocent people˼.”

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