Deuteronomy 19 – New International Version (NIV)
Cities of Refuge
- When 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,
- then set aside for yourselves three cities in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess.
- Determine 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.
- This is the rule concerning anyone who kills a person and flees there for safety—anyone who kills a neighbor unintentionally, without malice aforethought.
- For 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.
- Otherwise, 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.
- This is why I command you to set aside for yourselves three cities.
- If the Lord your God enlarges your territory, as he promised on oath to your ancestors, and gives you the whole land he promised them,
- because 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.
- Do 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.
- But if out of hate someone lies in wait, assaults and kills a neighbor, and then flees to one of these cities,
- the 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.
- Show no pity. You must purge from Israel the guilt of shedding innocent blood, so that it may go well with you.
- Do 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.
- One 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.
- If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime,
- the 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.
- The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite,
- then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. You must purge the evil from among you.
- The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you.
- Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
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Deuteronomy 19 – King James Version (KJV)
- When the Lord thy God hath cut off the nations, whose land the Lord thy God giveth thee, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their cities, and in their houses;
- Thou shalt separate three cities for thee in the midst of thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.
- Thou shalt prepare thee a way, and divide the coasts of thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee to inherit, into three parts, that every slayer may flee thither.
- And this is the case of the slayer, which shall flee thither, that he may live: Whoso killeth his neighbour ignorantly, whom he hated not in time past;
- As when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbour to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbour, that he die; he shall flee unto one of those cities, and live:
- Lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and slay him; whereas he was not worthy of death, inasmuch as he hated him not in time past.
- Wherefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt separate three cities for thee.
- And if the Lord thy God enlarge thy coast, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, and give thee all the land which he promised to give unto thy fathers;
- If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the Lord thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three:
- That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.
- But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities:
- Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.
- Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.
- Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.
- One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
- If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong;
- Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days;
- And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother;
- Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.
- And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.
- And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.