Deuteronomy 19

1“The Lord your God is giving you land that belongs to other nations. The Lord will destroy those nations. You will live where those people lived. You will take their cities and their houses. When that happens, 2- 3you must divide the land into three parts. Then in each part you must choose a city close to everyone in that area. And you must prepare roads to those cities. Then any person that kills another person may run to that city for safety. 4“This is the rule for the person that kills someone and runs away to one of those three cities to be safe: It must be a person that killed the other person accidentally. It must be a person that did not hate the person he killed. 5Here is an example: A man goes into the forest with another person to cut wood. The man swings his axe to cut down a tree, but the head of the axe separates from the handle. The axe head hits the other person and kills him. The man who swung the axe may then run to one of those three cities and be safe. 6But if the city is too far away, he might not be able to run there fast enough. A close relative of the person he killed might run after him and catch him before he reaches the city. The close relative might be very angry and kill the man. But the man did not deserve death. He did not hate the person he killed. 7˻The cities must be close to everyone.˼ That is why I command you to choose three special cities. 8“The Lord your God promised your fathers that he would make your land larger. He will give you all the land that he promised to give to your ancestors. 9He will do this if you completely obey his commands that I give you today—if you love the Lord your God and always live the way he wants. Then, when the Lord makes your land larger, you should choose three more cities for safety. They should be added to the first three cities. 10Then innocent people will not be killed in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. And you will not be guilty for any deaths. 11“But a man might hate another person. That man might hide, waiting to kill the person he hates. He might kill that person and run away into one of those cities of safety. 12If that happens, then the elders ˻(leaders)˼ in that man’s home town must send someone to get him and take him away from the city of safety. Those leaders must give that man to the close relative. The murderer must die. 13You must not feel sorry for him. He was guilty of killing an innocent person. You must remove that guilt from Israel. Then everything will go well for you. 14“You must not move the stones that mark your neighbor’s property. People put those stones there in the past to mark each person’s property. Those stones mark the land that the Lord your God gave you. 15“If a person is accused of doing something against the law, one witness is not enough to prove that the person is guilty. There must be two or three witnesses to prove that the person really did wrong. 16“A witness might try to hurt another person by lying and saying that this person did wrong. 17If that happens, then both of those people must go to the Lord’s special house and be judged by the priests and judges that are on duty at that time. 18The judges must ask careful questions. They might find that the witness lied against the other person. If the witness lied, 19then you must punish him. You must do to him the same thing he wanted to do to the other person. In this way, you will remove that evil from your group. 20Other people will hear about this and be afraid. And those people will not do evil things like that again. 21˻“Punishment must be as severe as the crime.˼ Don’t feel sorry about punishing a person that does wrong. If a person takes a life, then he must pay with his own life. The rule is: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot.

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