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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 20

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1 THE LORD spoke to Joshua 2and commanded him to say this to the Israelites: ‘You must now appoint your cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses. 3They are to be places where the homicide, the man who kills another inadvertently and without intent, may take sanctuary. Single them out as cities of refuge from the vengeance of the dead man's next-of-kin. 4When a man takes sanctuary in one of them, he must stop at the entrance of the city gate and present his case in the hearing of the elders of that city; if they admit him into the city, they will grant him a place where he may live as one of themselves. 5When the next-of-kin comes in pursuit, they are not to surrender him: he struck down his fellow without intent and had not previously been at enmity with him. 6The homicide may stay in that city until he stands trial before the community. On the death of the ruling high priest, he may return to the town and home from which he has fled.’ 7They dedicated 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. 8Across the Jordan eastwards from Jericho they appointed these cities: from the tribe of Reuben, Bezer-in-the-wilderness on the tableland, from the tribe of Gad, Ramoth in Gilead, and from the tribe of Manasseh, Golan in Bashan. 9These were the appointed cities where any Israelite or any alien residing among them might take sanctuary. They were intended for any man who killed another inadvertently, to ensure that no one should die at the hand of the next-of-kin until he had stood trial before the community.

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