1. Yahweh spoke to Moses on the Plains of Moab, near the Jordan by Jericho, and said:
2. 'Order the Israelites, from the heritage they possess, to give the Levites towns in which to live and pasture land round the towns. You will give these to the Levites.
3. The towns must be their homes and the surrounding pasture land must be for their cattle, their possessions and all their animals.
4. The pasture land surrounding the towns which you give to the Levites will extend, from the walls of the towns, for a thousand cubits all round.
5. 'Outside the town, measure two thousand cubits to the east, two thousand cubits to the south, two thousand cubits to the west and two thousand cubits to the north, the town lying in the centre; such will be the pasture lands of these towns.
6. The towns you give to the Levites will be six cities of refuge, ceded by you as sanctuary for those who commit manslaughter; and you will give forty-two towns in addition.
7. Altogether you will give the Levites forty-eight towns, with their pasture lands.
8. Of the towns which you give from the Israelites' possessions, you will give more from those who have more, and less from those who have less. Each will give some of his towns to the Levites, in proportion to the heritage he himself has received.'
9. Yahweh spoke to Moses and said:
10. 'Speak to the Israelites and say: "Once you have crossed the Jordan into Canaan,
11. you will find towns, some of which you will make into cities of refuge where those who have accidentally committed manslaughter can take sanctuary.
12. These towns will afford you refuge from the avenger of blood, so that the killer will not be put to death before standing trial before the community.
13. Of the towns you give, six will serve you as cities of refuge:
14. as cities of refuge, you will give three towns on the other side of the Jordan and will give three towns in Canaan.
15. These six towns will serve as refuge for the Israelites, for the foreigner and for the resident alien, where anyone who has accidentally killed someone can take sanctuary.
16. "But if he has struck the person with an iron object so as to cause death, he is a murderer. The murderer will be put to death.
17. If he has struck him with a stone meant for killing, and has killed him, he is a murderer. The murderer will be put to death.
18. Or if he has struck him with a wooden instrument meant for killing, and has killed him, he is a murderer. The murderer will be put to death.
19. The avenger of blood will put the murderer to death. Whenever he finds him, he will put him to death.
20. "If the killer has maliciously manhandled his victim, or thrown some lethal missile to strike him down,
21. or out of enmity dealt him the death-blow with his fist, then he who struck the blow will be put to death; he is a murderer; the avenger of blood will put him to death whenever he finds him.
22. If, however, he has manhandled his victim by chance, without malice, or thrown some missile at him not meaning to hit him
23. or, without seeing him, dropped on him a stone meant for killing and so killed him, so long as he bore him no malice and wished him no harm,
24. then the community will decide in accordance with these rules between the one who struck the blow and the avenger of blood,
25. and will save the killer from the clutches of the avenger of blood. They will send him back to the city of refuge where he had taken sanctuary, and there he will stay until the death of the high priest who has been anointed with the holy oil.
26. Should the killer leave the bounds of the city of refuge in which he has taken sanctuary
27. and the avenger of blood encounter him outside the bounds of his city of refuge, the avenger of blood may kill him without fear of reprisal;
28. since the killer should stay in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest; only after the death of the high priest is he free to go back to his own piece of property.
29. Such will be the legal rule for you and your descendants, wherever you may live.
30. "In any case of homicide, the evidence of witnesses will determine whether the killer must be put to death; but a single witness is not enough to sustain a capital charge.
31. You will not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer condemned to death; he must die.
32. Nor will you accept a ransom for anyone who, having taken sanctuary in his city or refuge, wishes to come back and live at home before the death of the high priest.
33. Do not profane the country you live in. Blood profanes the country and, for the country, the only expiation for the blood shed in it is the blood of the man who shed it.
34. So do not defile the country which you live in and where I live; for I, Yahweh, live among the Israelites." '