Numbers 35

Towns for the Levites

1 The Lord spoke to Moses in Moab, beside the River Jordan. Jericho was on the other side of the river. 2 The Lord said, ‘Tell the people this. They must give some of their land to the Levites. Then the Levites can build towns to live in. They will also have the land round the towns for their animals.

3 The Levites must have towns to live in and land for their cows and all their animals. 4 The fields that you give to them for their animals must reach 500 metres (1,500 feet) from the walls of each town. 5 You must also measure 1,000 metres (3,000 feet) outside the town on the each side, the east side, the south side, the west side and the north side. So the town will be in the centre. Those fields of grass will become theirs for their towns.

6 Six of the Levites' towns must be safe places. If anyone kills another person, he can run there to be safe. The Levites must also have another 42 towns. 7 In that way, the Levites will have 48 towns and land for their animals. 8 Each of the Israelite tribes must give to the Levites towns from their own land. The larger tribes will give more towns. The smaller tribes will give fewer towns. That is because the larger tribes have received more land that the smaller tribes.’

The safe cities

9 The Lord said to Moses, 10 ‘Tell the Israelites to do this when they cross the River Jordan and they go into Canaan. 11 They must choose some towns to be safe places. If anyone kills another person but he did not mean to, he can run there to be safe. 12 Those cities will be places where the killer can be safe from the dead person's relative. The killer will not die before the people in the town have judged him. 13 You must choose six towns to be safe places. 14 Three towns must be in Canaan and three towns must be on the other side of the River Jordan. 15 Those six towns will be safe places for Israelites and for foreign people who live among them. Anyone who has killed another person may run to one of these towns and be safe there. But they will only be safe if they did not mean to kill.

35:12The dead person's relative is the man from the dead person's family who has to get justice.

16 Murderers are different. You must kill a murderer. Maybe someone hits another person with a heavy iron tool. If the person dies, the murderer must die. 17 Someone might hit another person with a big stone. If the person dies, the man is a murderer. He must die. 18 A man might hit a person with a dangerous weapon made from wood. If the person dies, the man is a murderer. He must die. 19 The dead person's relative himself must kill the murderer when he meets him.

20 These are other examples of murder: A man might push another person hard because he hates him. A man might throw something at another person to hurt him. 21 Or a man might hit someone with his hand because he hates him. If the person dies as a result, you must kill the murderer. The dead person's relative must kill the murderer when he meets him.

22 But when a man kills another person, it might be a mistake. For example, he might push someone very hard, or he might throw something at another person. If he did not hate the other person, then it might be a mistake. 23 Or he might drop a heavy stone on someone when he didn't see them. If he did not hate the other person, perhaps he did not mean to hurt him. 24 If that happens, the people must judge who is right. They must choose between the killer and the dead person's relative. They must use those rules to decide if the man is a murderer. 25 If the man is a killer but not a murderer, the people must keep him safe from the dead person's relative. They must send him back to the safe city that he ran to. He will live there safely until the death of the leader of God's priests.

26 But one day, the killer might go outside the border of the safe city that he ran to. 27 If he does that, the dead person's relative might find him outside the safe city. Then, if the dead person's relative kills him, the relative will not be guilty of murder. 28 That is because the killer should have stayed in his safe city until the death of the leader of the priests. But after the leader of the priests dies, the killer may return to his own home.

29 Wherever you and your descendants live, these are the rules that you must obey for all future time.

30 Before you kill a murderer, people must agree that they saw him kill someone. But if only one person saw what happened, that is not enough for you to kill him.

31 You must not accept money to pay for the life of a murderer. If he is guilty of murder, you must kill him.

32 Also, you must not accept money from a killer who has run to a safe city. You must not let him return to his own home until the leader of the priests has died.

33 Murder causes the land where you live to become unclean. You have to make it clean again. You must kill anyone who murders another person. That is the only way to make the land clean again. 34 You must not make the country where you live become unclean. It is the country where I also live. That is because I, the Lord, live among the Israelites.’