Deuteronomy 19

Cities of Safety

19 When the Lord your God gives you land that belongs to the other nations, nations that he will destroy, you will force them out and live in their cities and houses. 2 Then choose three cities in the middle of the land the Lord your God is giving you as your own. 3 Build roads to these cities, and divide the land the Lord is giving you into three parts so that someone who kills another person may run to these cities.

4 This is the rule for someone who kills another person and runs to one of these cities in order to save his life. But the person must have killed a neighbor without meaning to, not out of hatred. 5 For example, suppose someone goes into the forest with a neighbor to cut wood and swings an ax to cut down a tree. If the ax head flies off the handle, hitting and killing the neighbor, the one who killed him may run to one of these cities to save his life. 6 Otherwise, the dead person’s relative who has the duty of punishing a murderer might be angry and chase him. If the city is far away, the relative might catch and kill the person, even though he should not be killed because there was no intent to kill his neighbor. 7 This is why I command you to choose these three cities.

8-9 Carefully obey all these laws I’m giving you today. Love the Lord your God, and always do what he wants you to do. Then the Lord your God will enlarge your land as he promised your ancestors, giving you the whole land he promised to them. After that, choose three more cities of safety 10 so that innocent people will not be killed in your land, the land that the Lord your God is giving you as your own. By doing this you will not be guilty of allowing the death of innocent people.

11 But if a person hates his neighbor and, after hiding and waiting, attacks and kills him and then runs to one of these cities for safety, 12 the elders of his own city should send for the murderer. They should bring the person back from the city of safety and hand him over to the relative who has the duty of punishing the murderer. 13 Show no mercy. You must remove from Israel the guilt of murdering innocent people so that things will go well for you.

14 Do not move the stone that marks the border of your neighbor’s land, which people long ago set in place. It marks what you inherit in the land the Lord your God is giving you as your own.

Rules About Witnesses

15 One witness is not enough to accuse a person of a crime or sin. A case must be proved by two or three witnesses.

16 If a witness lies and accuses a person of a crime, 17 the two people who are arguing must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and judges who are on duty. 18 The judges must check the matter carefully. The witness who is a liar, lying about a fellow Israelite, 19 must be punished. He must be punished in the same way the other person would have been punished. You must get rid of the evil among you. 20 The rest of the people will hear about this and be afraid, and no one among you will ever do such an evil thing again. 21 Show no mercy. A life must be paid for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot.

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