On the flatlands of Moab, the LORD spoke to Moses. It was by the Jordan River across from Jericho. The LORD said,
"Command the people of Israel to give the Levites towns to live in. The towns must come from the shares of land the people will have as their own. Also give the Levites the grasslands that are around the towns.
Then the Levites will have towns to live in. They will also have grasslands that are for their cattle, flocks and all of their other livestock.
"The grasslands that are around each town you give them will go out to 1,500 feet from the town wall.
Outside each town, the east side will measure 3,000 feet. The south side will measure 3,000 feet. The west side will measure 3,000 feet. And the north side will measure 3,000 feet. The town must be in the center. The Levites will have the area around it as grasslands.
"Six of the towns you give the Levites will be cities to go to for safety. A person who has killed someone can run to one of them. Also give the Levites 42 other towns.
You must give the Levites a total of 48 towns. Also give them the grasslands that are around the towns.
"The towns you give the Levites must come from the land the people of Israel have as their own. So the number you give from each tribe will depend on the size of that tribe's share. Take many towns from a tribe that has many. But take only a few towns from a tribe that has only a few."
Then the LORD spoke to Moses. He said,
"Speak to the people of Israel. Tell them, 'You will soon go across the Jordan River. You will enter Canaan.
When you do, choose the cities to go to for safety. People who have killed someone by accident can run to one of those cities.
They will be places of safety for them. People will be safe there from those who want to kill them. Then those who are charged with murder will not die before their case has been brought to the community court.
" 'Six towns will be the cities you can go to for safety.
Three will be east of the Jordan River. The other three will be in Canaan.
" 'Those six towns will be places where the people of Israel can go for safety. Outsiders and any other people living in Israel can also go to them for safety. So anyone who has killed another person by accident can run there.
" 'Suppose a person uses an iron object to hit and kill someone. Then he is a murderer. He must be put to death.
Or suppose a person is holding a stone that could kill. And he uses it to hit and kill someone. Then he is a murderer. He must be put to death.
Or suppose a person is holding a wooden object that could kill. And he uses it to hit and kill someone. Then he is a murderer. He must be put to death.
" 'The dead person's nearest male relative should kill the murderer. When he meets him, he should kill him.
" 'What if a person makes evil plans against someone else? And what if that person pushes him so that he dies? Or what if that person throws something at him so that he dies?
Or what if that person hits the other person with a fist so that the other dies? Then the person who does any of those things must be put to death. He is a murderer. " 'The dead person's nearest male relative should kill the murderer. When he meets him, he should kill him.
" 'But what if a person suddenly pushes someone else without being angry? Or what if that person throws something at him without meaning to?
Or what if that person does not see him and drops a stone on him that kills him? He was not the dead person's enemy. He did not mean to harm him.
" 'Then the court must decide between the person who did the act and the nearest male relative of the one who was killed. Here are the rules the court must follow.
" 'The court must provide a safe place for the person who is charged with murder. It must keep him safe from those who want to kill him. The court must send him back to the city he ran to for safety. He must stay there until the high priest dies. The priest is the one who has been anointed with the holy oil.
" 'But suppose the one who has been charged with murder goes outside that city.
And suppose the dead person's nearest male relative finds that one outside the city. Then the relative can kill the one who has been charged. The relative will not be guilty of murder.
" 'The one who has been charged must stay in that city until the high priest dies. Only then can the one who has been charged return home.
" 'That is what the law requires of you for all time to come. It will apply to you no matter where you live.
" 'Suppose a person kills someone. That person must be put to death as a murderer. But do it only when there are witnesses who can tell what happened. Do not put anyone to death if only one witness tells what happened.
" 'Do not accept payment for a murderer's life. He should die. He must certainly be put to death.
" 'Do not accept payment for anyone who has run to a city for safety. Do not let him buy his freedom to return home. He must not go back and live on his own land before the high priest dies.
" 'Do not pollute the land where you are. Murder pollutes the land. Only one thing can pay to remove the pollution in the land where murder has been committed. The blood of the one who spilled another's blood must be spilled.
So do not make the land where you live "unclean." I live there too. I live among the people of Israel. I am the Lord.' "