Cities of refuge
1 When Yahweh, your God, has destroyed the nations whose land he will give you, when you have driven them away and you occupy their houses, 2 you shall set aside three cities in the midst of the land which Yahweh, your God, gives you in possession. 3 Open a way to them and divide in three parts the territory that Yahweh, your God, gives you in possession: so that anyone who has killed someone may find refuge in those cities.
4 But who may find refuge there to save him self? The person who caused the death of his neighbor with whom he had had no quarrel be fore. 5 For example, if someone goes to the forest with a companion to cut firewood and as he wields the axe to cut a tree, the blade comes off its handle, mortally wounding his companion, he can flee into one of those cities and so save himself. 6 The avenger of blood must not be allowed, in his rage, to hunt the killer and catch up with him because the distance is great, and kill him in turn, when in real ity the latter is not guilty of murder, since he had had no previous quarrel with his companion.
7 For this reason, I command you to set aside these three cities. 8 But perhaps Yahweh will extend your frontiers as he has sworn to your fathers, and give you all the land that he promised to your fathers, 9 on condition that you keep his commandments and do what I tell you today, that is, that you love Yahweh, your God, and follow his ways at all times. Then you shall add three more to these three cities.
10 In that way, innocent blood shall not be shed in the midst of the land which Yahweh, your God, gives you as your inheritance, and you will not be guilty of such shedding of blood.
11 But if a man, because of a feud with his neighbor, ambushes him and falls on him and wounds him fatally, and if afterwards the aggressor flees into one of these cities, 12 the heads of this city shall order that he be arrested there in the place of asylum. And he shall be put in the hands of the relatives of the victim that they may kill him. 13 Do not show pity to him for you must remove from Israel the shedding of innocent blood, so that you may have prosperity.
14 In the inheritance you receive in the land which Yahweh, your God, will give as your possession, do not move the boundaries of your neighbor set by your ancestors.
15 A sole witness is not enough to condemn anyone, whatever be the crime or offense of which the person is accused. Only by the testimony of two or three witnesses can a case be resolved. 16 If only one witness rises against a person and accuses him of an offense, 17 both parties involved shall appear before Yahweh in the pre sence of the priests and judges then in office, who may deal with it.
18 The judges will examine the case in detail, and if it turns out that the witness had lied in falsely accusing his brother, 19 they shall impose on him the punishment which the lying witness tried to impose on his brother. So shall you uproot evil from your midst, 20 because others, upon knowing it, shall fear and not do the same.
21 Do not feel sorry for him: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.