Deuteronomy 19:1-13

Cities of refuge

1 Once the LORD your God has eliminated those nations—whose land the LORD your God is giving you—and you displace them, settling into their cities and their houses,
2 you must designate three cities for your use in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess.
3 Mark out the roads to them and divide the regions of the land the LORD your God is apportioning to you into three parts. These cities are the places to which a person who has killed can escape.
4 Here is the rule concerning a person who killed someone and is permitted to escape to one of these cities and live: If it is someone who killed his neighbor accidentally, without having hated that person previously;
5 or if someone goes into the forest with a neighbor to chop some wood, and while swinging an ax to cut down the tree, the axhead flies off its handle and hits the neighbor, who subsequently dies—these kinds of killers may escape to one of these cities and live.
6 Otherwise, the blood avenger will chase after the killer out of rage and—especially if the distance to one of these cities is too far—might catch and kill him, even though a death sentence was not in order because the killer didn't have prior malice toward the other.
7 This is why I am commanding you as follows: Designate three cities for your use.
8 Now if the LORD your God enlarges your territory, as he swore to your ancestors—and he will give you all the land he swore to give to them
9 as long as you keep all this commandment that I am giving you right now by doing it, by loving the LORD your God, and by always walking in his ways—you can add three more cities for your use along with the first three.
10 Innocent blood must not be spilled in the land the LORD your God is giving to you as an inheritance, or it will be bloodshed that will be required of you.
11 But if someone does hate a neighbor and ambushes him, rising up against him and attacking him so he dies, and then escapes to one of these cities,
12 elders from the killer's hometown will send word, and the killer will be sent back from there. They will then hand him over to the blood avenger, and he will be executed.
13 Show no mercy to such killers. Remove innocent bloodshed from Israel so that things go well for you.