Joshua 20

Israel Designates Cities of Refuge

1The Lord instructed Joshua: 2“Have the Israelites select
Heb “Say to the sons of Israel, ‘Set aside for yourselves.’”
the cities of refuge
Or “asylum.”
that I told you about through Moses.
3Anyone who accidentally kills someone can escape there;
Heb “so that the one who kills, taking life accidentally without knowledge, may flee there.”
these cities will be a place of asylum from the avenger of blood.
4The one who committed manslaughter
Heb “he”; the referent (the one who accidentally kills another, cf. v. 2) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
should escape to one of these cities, stand at the entrance of the city gate, and present his case to the leaders of that city.
Heb “and speak into the ears of the elders of that city his words.”
They should then bring him into the city, give him a place to stay, and let him live there.
Heb “and they should gather him into the city to themselves, give to him a place, and he will live with them.”
5When the avenger of blood comes after him, they must not hand over to him the one who committed manslaughter, for he accidentally killed his fellow man without premeditation.
Heb “for without knowledge he killed his neighbor, and he was not hating him prior to that.”
6He must remain
Or “live.”
in that city until his case is decided by the assembly
Heb “until he stands before the assembly for judgment.”
and the high priest dies.
Heb “until the death of the high priest who is in those days.”
Then the one who committed manslaughter may return home to the city from which he escaped.”
Heb “may return and enter his city and his house, the city from which he escaped.”

7 So they selected
Heb “set apart.”
Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah.
8Beyond the Jordan east of Jericho
For the location of Jericho see Map5-B2; Map6-E1; Map7-E1; Map8-E3; Map10-A2; Map11-A1.
they selected
Or “set aside.”
Bezer in the desert on the plain belonging to the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead belonging to the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan belonging to the tribe of Manasseh.
9These were the cities of refuge
The Hebrew text reads simply “the cities.” The words “for refuge” are supplied for clarification.
appointed for all the Israelites and for resident foreigners living among them. Anyone who accidentally killed someone could escape there and not be executed by
Heb “and not die by the hand of.”
the avenger of blood, at least until his case was reviewed by the assembly.
Heb “until he stands before the assembly.” The words “at least” are supplied for clarification.

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