"When the Lord your God annihilates the nations whose land He is giving you, so that you drive them out and live in their cities and houses,
you are to set apart three cities for yourselves within the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess.
You are to determine the distances and divide the land the Lord your God is granting you as an inheritance into three regions, so that anyone who commits manslaughter can flee to these cities.
"Here is the law concerning a case of someone who kills a person and flees there to save his life, having killed his neighbor accidentally without previously hating him:
If he goes into the forest with his neighbor to cut timber, and his hand swings the ax to chop down a tree, but the blade flies off the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies, that person may flee to one of these cities and live.
Otherwise, the avenger of blood in the heat of his anger might pursue the one who committed manslaughter, overtake him because the distance is great, and strike him dead. Yet he did not deserve to die, since he did not previously hate his neighbor.
This is why I am commanding you to set apart three cities for yourselves.
If the Lord your God enlarges your territory as He swore to your fathers, and gives you all the land He promised to give them-
provided you keep every one of these commands I am giving you today and follow them, loving the Lord your God and walking in His ways at all times-you are to add three more cities to these three.
In this way, innocent blood will not be shed, and you will not become guilty of bloodshed in the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
But if someone hates his neighbor, lies in ambush for him, attacks him, and strikes him fatally, and flees to one of these cities,
the elders of his city must send [for him], take him from there, and hand him over to the avenger of blood and he will die.
You must not look on him with pity but purge from Israel the guilt of shedding innocent blood, and you will prosper.
"One witness cannot establish any wrongdoing or sin against a person, whatever that person has done. A fact must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
"If a malicious witness testifies against someone accusing him of a crime,
the two people in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and judges in authority at the time.
The judges are to make a careful investigation, and if the witness turns out to be a liar who has falsely accused his brother,
you must do to him as he intended to do to his brother. You must purge the evil from you.
Then everyone else will hear and be afraid, and they will never again do anything evil like this among you.
You must not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot.
"When you go out to war against your enemies and see horses, chariots, and an army larger than yours, do not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you.
When you are about to engage in battle, the priest is to come forward and address the army.
He is to say to them: 'Listen, Israel: Today you are about to engage in battle with your enemies. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, alarmed, or terrified because of them.
For the Lord your God is the One who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.'
"The officers are to address the army, 'Has any man built a new house and not dedicated it? Let him leave and return home. Otherwise, he may die in battle and another man dedicate it.
Has any man planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy its fruit? Let him leave and return home. Otherwise he may die in battle and another man enjoy its fruit.
Has any man become engaged to a woman and not married her? Let him leave and return home. Otherwise he may die in battle and another man marry her.'
The officers will continue to address the army and say, 'Is there any man who is afraid or fainthearted? Let him leave and return home, so that his brothers' hearts won't melt like his own.'
When the officers have finished addressing the army, they will appoint military commanders to lead it.
"When you approach a city to fight against it, you must make an offer of peace.
If it accepts your offer of peace and opens [its gates] to you, all the people found in it will become forced laborers for you and serve you.
However, if it does not make peace with you but wages war against you, lay siege to it.
When the Lord your God hands it over to you, you must strike down all its males with the sword.
But you may take the women, children, animals, and whatever else is in the city-all its spoil-as plunder. You may enjoy the spoil of your enemies that the Lord your God has given you.
This is how you are to treat all the cities that are far away from you and are not among the cities of these nations.
However, you must not let any living thing survive among the cities of these people the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
You must completely destroy them-the Hittite, Amorite, Canaanite, Perizzite, Hivite, and Jebusite-as the Lord your God has commanded you,
so that they won't teach you to do all the detestable things they do for their gods, and you sin against the Lord your God.
"When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can get food from them. You must not cut them down. Are trees of the field human, to come under siege by you?
But you may destroy the trees that you know do not produce food. You may cut them down to build siege works against the city that is waging war with you, until it falls.
"If a murder victim is found lying in a field in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess, and it is not known who killed him,
your elders and judges must come out and measure [the distance] from the victim to the nearby cities.
The elders of the city nearest to the victim are to get a cow that has not been yoked or used for work.
The elders of that city will bring the cow down to a continually flowing stream, to a place not tilled or sown, and they will break the cow's neck there by the stream.
Then the priests, the sons of Levi, will come forward, for the Lord your God has chosen them to serve Him and pronounce blessings in the Lord's name, and they are to give a ruling in every dispute and [case of] assault.
All the elders of the city nearest to the victim will wash their hands by the stream over the heifer whose neck has been broken.
They will declare, 'Our hands did not shed this blood; our eyes did not see [it].
Lord, forgive Your people Israel You redeemed, and do not hold the shedding of innocent blood against them.' Then they will be absolved of responsibility for bloodshed.
You must purge from yourselves the guilt of shedding innocent blood, for you will be doing what is right in the Lord's sight.
"When you go to war against your enemies and the Lord your God hands them over to you and you take some of them prisoner, and
if you see a beautiful woman among the captives, desire her, and want to take her as your wife,
you are to bring her into your house. She must shave her head, trim her nails,
remove the clothes she was wearing when she was taken prisoner, live in your house, and mourn for her father and mother a full month. After that, you may have sexual relations with her and be her husband, and she will be your wife.
Then if you are not satisfied with her, you are to let her go where she wants, but you must not sell her for money or treat her as merchandise, because you have humiliated her.
"If a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved bear him sons, and if the unloved wife has the firstborn son,
when that man gives what he has to his sons as an inheritance, he is not to show favoritism to the son of the loved [wife] as his firstborn over the firstborn of the unloved wife.
He must acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved wife, by giving him a double portion of everything that belongs to him, for he is the firstfruits of his virility; he has the rights of the firstborn.
"If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father or mother and doesn't listen to them even after they discipline him,
his father and mother must take hold of him and bring him to the elders of his city, to the gate of his hometown.
They will say to the elders of his city, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he doesn't obey us. He's a glutton and a drunkard.'
Then all the men of his city will stone him to death. You must purge the evil from you, and all Israel will hear and be afraid.
"If anyone is found guilty of an offense deserving the death penalty and is executed, and you hang his body on a tree,
you are not to leave his corpse on the tree overnight but are to bury him that day, for anyone hung [on a tree] is under God's curse. You must not defile the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
"Then if anyone tells you, 'Look, here is the Messiah! Look-there!' do not believe it!
For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and will perform signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, the elect.
And you must watch! I have told you everything in advance.
"But in those days, after that tribulation: The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not shed its light;
the stars will be falling from the sky, and the celestial powers will be shaken.
Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.
He will send out the angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.
"Learn this parable from the fig tree: As soon as its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near.
In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that He is near-at the door!
I assure you: This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.
"Now concerning that day or hour no one knows-neither the angels in heaven nor the Son-except the Father.
Watch! Be alert! For you don't know when the time is [coming].
It is like a man on a journey, who left his house, gave authority to his slaves, gave each one his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to be alert.
Therefore be alert, since you don't know when the master of the house is coming-whether in the evening or at midnight or at the crowing of the rooster or early in the morning.
Otherwise, he might come suddenly and find you sleeping.
And what I say to you, I say to everyone: Be alert!"