In the plains of Moab across the Jordan from Jericho the LORD said to Moses, 2“Tell the Israelites that from the property they receive they must give the Levites some cities to live in and pasture land round the cities. 3These cities will belong to the Levites, and they will live there. The pasture land will be for their cattle and all their other animals. 4The pasture land is to extend outwards from the city walls 450 metres in each direction, 5so that there is a square area measuring 900 metres on each side, with the city in the middle. 6You are to give the Levites six cities of refuge to which a man can escape if he kills someone accidentally. In addition, give them 42 other cities 7with their pasture land, making a total of 48. 8The number of Levite cities in each tribe is to be determined according to the size of its territory.”
9The LORD told Moses 10to say to the people of Israel: “When you cross the River Jordan and enter the land of Canaan, 11you are to choose cities of refuge to which a man can escape if he kills someone accidentally. 12There he will be safe from the dead person's relative who seeks revenge. No one accused of manslaughter is to be put to death without a public trial. 13Choose six cities, 14three east of the Jordan and three in the land of Canaan. 15These will serve as cities of refuge for Israelites and for foreigners who are temporary or permanent residents. Anyone who kills someone accidentally can escape to one of them.
16-18“If, however, anyone uses a weapon of iron or stone or wood to kill someone, he is guilty of murder and is to be put to death. 19The dead person's nearest relative has the responsibility for putting the murderer to death. When he finds him, he is to kill him.
20“If anyone hates someone and kills him by pushing him down or by throwing something at him 21or by striking him with his fist, he is guilty of murder and is to be put to death. The dead man's nearest relative has the responsibility for putting the murderer to death. When he finds him, he is to kill him.
22“But suppose anyone accidentally kills someone he does not hate, whether by pushing him down or by throwing something at him. 23Or suppose that, without looking, anyone throws a stone that kills someone whom he did not intend to hurt and who was not his enemy. 24In such cases the community shall judge in favour of the one who caused the death and not in favour of the dead person's relative who is seeking revenge. 25The community is to rescue the one guilty of manslaughter from the dead person's relative, and they are to return him to the city of refuge to which he had escaped. He must live there until the death of the man who is then High Priest. 26If the one guilty of manslaughter leaves the city of refuge to which he has escaped 27and if the dead person's relative finds him and kills him, this act of revenge is not murder. 28The person guilty of manslaughter must remain in the city of refuge until the death of the High Priest, but after that he may return home. 29These rules apply to you and your descendants wherever you may live.
“Anyone 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. 31A murderer must be put to death. He cannot escape this penalty by the payment of money. 32If someone has fled to a city of refuge, do not allow him to make a payment in order to return home before the death of the High Priest. 33If 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. 34Do not defile the land where you are living, because I am the LORD and I live among the people of Israel.”