The cities where men are safe
1 The Lord your God will kill the people whose country he is giving to you. You will march into their towns and their houses and you will live in them. 2 Then you must choose three cities. Each city must be in a central place in your country. 3 Make the country into three separate parts and build roads to each city. So then anyone who kills a person can run there. And then that person can be safe.
4 This is the rule for anyone who has killed another person. If it was a mistake, he can run to the city. He will be safe there because the man was not an enemy. 5 For example, two men may go to the forest to cut wood. As one man cuts wood, the metal part of his axe flies off. It hits the other man and kills him. The first man can run to the nearest special city. He will be safe there. 6 If there was only one city, a policeman might catch the killer on his way. The policeman might be so angry that he kills the man. But the man had made a mistake. He killed his friend, who was not an enemy. 7 So I command you to choose three cities for yourselves.
8 The Lord your God promised your ancestors to give you more land. 9 You must love him and you must obey his rules. If you do that, he will give the whole country to you. That is what he has promised. If he does that, you must choose three more cities. 10 You must do this. So then people who are not bad will not die in your country. You must not kill people for murder, when they have made a mistake. Do not do this in the country that the Lord your God is giving you.
11 But perhaps one man may hate another man. He may hide himself and wait for that man. He may kill him and then he may run to one of the cities. 12 If he does that, the leaders of his own town must fetch him back. They must bring him to the policeman and he must die. 13 Do not be sorry for him. You must remove completely from Israel the bad practice of murder. So then people who are not bad will not die in your country. If you do that, everything will be well for you.
God's rule about marks on the ground
14 There may be a stone at the edge of your neighbour's land. Someone put this stone there as a mark before you arrived in the country. You must not move it!
God's rule about reports
15 The report of one man is not enough to check a wrong thing or a sin. Two or three people, who saw the thing happen, must agree about it. They must all have seen the person when he did the wrong thing or the sin.
16 Perhaps a cruel person may say that a man has done something wrong. 17 Then both the men must stand in front of the Lord. They must stand in front of the priests and the judges who are ruling at that time. 18 Then the judges must be careful to discover what is true. The cruel person may be saying things that are not true against another Israelite. 19 If that is true, you must do this: You must do to him the things that he wanted to do to the other Israelite. You must remove bad things like this from among yourselves. 20 So then all the people will be afraid when they hear about this. And this very wrong thing will never happen again among you. 21 Do not be sorry for people who do what is wrong. You must demand:
a life for a life
an eye for an eye
a tooth for a tooth
a hand for a hand
a foot for a foot.