The LORD spoke to Moses in the Moab plains by the Jordan across from Jericho:
Command the Israelites that they give cities from their inherited property to the Levites in which to live. You will also give the Levites pastures around their cities.
The cities will be theirs in which to live. Their pastures will be for their cattle, their possessions, and all their animals.
The pastures of the cities that you must give to the Levites will extend from the wall of the city outward for one thousand five hundred feet in all directions.
You will measure outside the city on the east side three thousand feet, on the south side three thousand feet, on the west side three thousand feet, and on the north side three thousand feet, with the city in the middle. These will be their cities' pastures.
Six of the cities that you give to the Levites will be refuge cities. You will allow the person who kills someone to flee there. In addition to these you will give them forty-two cities.
All the cities that you give to the Levites will total forty-eight, along with their pastures.
As for the cities that you give from the property of the Israelites, you will take more from the larger tribes and less from the smaller. Each in proportion to its inheritance will give cities to the Levites.
The LORD spoke to Moses:
Speak to the Israelites and say to them: When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan,
identify for yourselves cities to be refuge cities, where a person who kills someone by accident may flee.
The cities will be for you a place of refuge from the close relative of the dead. The person who killed someone may not be put to death until he stands before the community for judgment.
You will establish six refuge cities for yourselves.
You will establish three cities across the Jordan and three cities in the land of Canaan. They will be the refuge cities.
These six cities will be refuge for Israelites, immigrants, and temporary residents, as a place to flee for anyone who kills a person by accident.
But if someone strikes a person with an iron object and he dies, he is a murderer. The murderer must definitely be put to death.
If someone strikes another with a stone in hand that could cause death and he dies, he is a murderer. The murderer must definitely be put to death.
Or if someone strikes with a wood object in hand that could cause death, he is a murderer. The murderer must definitely be put to death.
The close relative responsible for the blood of the dead is the one who will put the murderer to death. When he meets him, he will execute him.
If in hatred someone hits another or throws something at him with premeditation, he will be put to death.
Or if in hostility someone strikes another with his hand and he dies, the one who struck is a murderer and he will be put to death. The close relative will put the murderer to death when he meets him.
But if suddenly and without hostility someone hits another or throws any object at him without premeditation,
or accidentally drops any stone on him that could cause death and he dies—even though they weren't enemies and no evil was intended—
then the community must come to a verdict between the killer and the close relative in accordance with these case laws.
The community will protect the killer from the hand of the close relative and return him to the refuge city where he fled. He will live there until the death of the high priest who was anointed with holy oil.
But if the killer ever goes outside the boundaries of the refuge city where he fled
and the close relative finds him outside the boundary of his refuge city and kills him, he will not be responsible for his blood.
The killer must live in his refuge city until the high priest's death. After the high priest's death the killer may return to the land he owns.
These will be the regulations and case laws for all time in all your settlements.
Anyone who kills another will be executed on the evidence of witnesses. But one witness alone cannot testify against a person for a death sentence.
You may not accept a ransom for the life of a killer, who is guilty of a capital crime, for he must definitely be put to death.
You may not accept a ransom for someone who has fled to his refuge city so that he can return and live in the land before the priest's death.
You may not pollute the land in which you live, for the blood pollutes the land. There can be no recovery for the land from the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it.
You will not make the land in which you live unclean, the land in the middle of which I reside, for I the LORD reside among the Israelites.