The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Numbers
This was another message the Lord gave to Moses on the eastern bank of Jordan opposite Jericho;
he was to bid the Israelites make provision for the Levites out of these lands of theirs.
The Levites were to have cities with precincts about them; cities for the Levites themselves to live in, and precincts for their flocks and cattle,✻
stretching a thousand yards beyond the city walls.
Two thousand cubits to the east, as many to the south, as many towards the western sea, as many to the north;✻ the city was to lie in the middle with precincts all round it.
Six of the towns granted to the Levites would be sanctuaries for the outlaw, offering a refuge to homicides, and there would be forty-two more,
making forty-eight cities in all, with precincts attached to them.
All these cities were to be a toll levied from the lands of the Israelites, in greater number from those who held more, in less number from those who held less; they would make their grant to the Levites according to their several capacities.
And the Lord spoke to Moses
giving him this message for the Israelites: When you have crossed Jordan and reached Chanaan,
you must decide which of your cities are to be sanctuaries for men who have shed blood unwittingly.
Such a man, if he takes refuge there, will be beyond the reach of avenging clansmen, until such time as he can appear and have his cause decided by the people.
Of the cities appointed as sanctuaries,
three must lie beyond the Jordan, three in Chanaan itself;
and they shall be open not only to Israelites but to the aliens that lodge or dwell among you, as a refuge for all who have shed blood unwittingly.
In such causes, anyone who struck a deadly blow with a weapon of iron must be reckoned a murderer, and put to death;
and the penalty is all the same if the deadly blow was struck with a stone,
or with a piece of wood.
Any kinsman of the dead man may strike the murderer down, strike him down without more ado as soon as he meets him.
Anyone, that is, who thrusts at a man out of malice, or lies in wait for him and discharges a weapon at him,
or makes a deadly assault on him because they are enemies, is a murderer, to be struck down by the kinsmen of the dead man as soon as they meet him.
But if it was by chance, without any malice
or feud between them,
and this is proved in the hearing of the people, after due consideration of the pleas brought by the slayer and by the dead man’s kin,
then he is innocent, and must be rescued from the avenger’s power. He must be taken back, by award of the court, to his city of refuge, and make his abode there until the death of the high priest then anointed.
Once the slayer leaves the confines of the sanctuary town,
anyone who has a feud against him may strike him down wherever he meets him, without incurring guilt;
he should have remained in his city of refuge until the high priest died. On the high priest’s death, the slayer is free to return home.
These laws shall hold good among you everywhere and always.
Witnesses are needed before the murderer can be punished; the word of a single witness does not suffice for his condemnation.
You are not to accept blood-money from the murderer; he is to be put to death there and then.
Nor, upon any condition, must you allow the outlaw who has taken sanctuary to return home until the high priest’s death;
this would bring pollution on the land that is yours. The blood of an innocent man involves the whole land in such guilt as can only be expiated by the murderer’s own blood;
and you must keep your territory clean of such defilement if I am to dwell among you; the Lord himself is the guest of Israel.
The Holy Bible