In the plains of Mo'av by the Yarden, across from Yericho, ADONAI said to Moshe,
"Order the people of Isra'el to give to the L'vi'im cities to live in from the heritage they will possess, and you are also to give the L'vi'im some of the open land surrounding the cities.
They are to have the cities to live in, while their open land will be for their livestock, for growing crops and for all their animals.
The open land around the cities you give to the L'vi'im is to commence at a line drawn around the city wall 1,500 feet outside it and is to extend outward from there.
Measure 3,000 feet outward from the city wall to the east, south, west and north, with the city in the center. The space between the 1,500-foot line and the 3,000-foot line will be their open land around the cities.
The cities you give to the L'vi'im are to be the six cities of refuge to which you permit the person who kills someone to flee to; plus an additional forty-two cities.
Thus you will give the L'vi'im forty-eight cities, with their surrounding open land.
As to the cities you will give from those the people of Isra'el possess, from the many you will take many, and from the few you will take few - each tribe will contribute from its cities to the L'vi'im in accordance with the size of its inheritance."
ADONAI said to Moshe,
"Tell the people of Isra'el, 'When you cross the Yarden into the land of Kena'an,
you are to designate for yourselves cities that will be cities of refuge for you, to which anyone who kills someone by mistake can flee.
These cities are to be a refuge for you from the dead person's next-of-kin, who might otherwise avenge his kinsman's death by slaying the killer prior to his standing trial before the community.
In regard to the cities you are to give, there are to be six cities of refuge for you.
You are to give three cities east of the Yarden and three cities in the land of Kena'an; they will be cities of refuge.
These six cities will serve as refuge for the people of Isra'el, as well as for the foreigner and resident alien with them; so that anyone who kills someone by mistake may flee there.
"'However, if he hits him with an iron implement and thus causes his death, he is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death.
Or if he hits him with a stone in his hand big enough to kill someone, and he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death.
Or if he hits him with a wood utensil in his hand capable of killing someone, and he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death.
The next-of-kin avenger is to put the murderer to death himself - upon meeting him, he is to put him to death.
Likewise, if he shoves him out of hatred; or intentionally throws something at him, causing his death;
or out of hostility strikes him with his hand, so that he dies; then the one who struck him must be put to death; he is a murderer; and the next-of-kin avenger is to put the murderer to death upon meeting him.
"'But suppose he shoves him suddenly, but without hostility; or he throws something at him unintentionally;
or, without seeing him, being his enemy or seeking to harm him, he throws a stone big enough to cause death; and the person dies.
Then the community is to judge between the one who struck him and the next-of-kin avenger in accordance with these rules;
and the community is to save the killer from the next-of-kin avenger. The community is to return him to the city of refuge to which he fled, and he is to live there until the cohen hagadol, who was anointed with the holy oil, dies.
But if the killer ever goes beyond the limits of the city of refuge he fled to,
and the next-of-kin avenger finds him outside the limits of his city of refuge, and the avenger kills the killer, he will not be guilty of the man's blood;
because he must stay in his city of refuge until the death of the cohen hagadol. But after the death of the cohen hagadol the killer may return to the land he owns.
These things shall constitute your standard for judgment through all your generations, wherever you live.
"'If anyone kills someone, the murderer is to be put to death upon the testimony of witnesses; but the testimony of only one witness will not suffice to cause a person to be put to death.
Also, you are not to accept a ransom in lieu of the life of a murderer condemned to death; rather, he must be put to death.
Likewise, you are not to accept for someone who has fled to his city of refuge a ransom that would allow him to return to his land before the death of the cohen.
In this way you will not defile the land in which you are living. For blood defiles the land, and in this land no atonement can be made for the blood shed in it except the blood of him who shed it.
No, you are not to defile the land in which you live and in which I live; for I, ADONAI, live among the people of Isra'el.'"