October 12 (Year 2)
Then the Eternal One spoke to Joshua.
Eternal One: Tell the Israelites, “You must set apart cities of refuge, as I directed you through Moses, so that anyone who accidentally or unintentionally kills a person may flee there. These cities shall be set up as a refuge from anyone seeking blood revenge. If the slayer flees to one of these cities, he can stand at the entrance of the gate of the city and explain the case to the elders of that city; then the fugitive will be taken into the city and given a place, and he will live among them. If the person seeking to avenge in blood comes after him, the people of the city may not give up the slayer since the neighbor was killed by mistake and there was no premeditation or prior hatred. The slayer may remain in that city until there is a trial before the congregation. And when the high priest who currently holds the office dies, then the slayer may return home to the town from which he fled.”
God asks the people to set aside places of sanctuary. This is a violent time, and people often take justice into their own hands. But these cities of refuge are set aside as places where those who have accidentally killed someone might be safe from avenging relatives until a determination of guilt might be made.
So they set apart and consecrated Kedesh in Galilee (in the hill country of Naphtali), Shechem (in the hill country of Ephraim), and Kiriath-arba (Hebron, in the hill country of Judah). Beyond the Jordan, east of Jericho, they appointed Bezer (in the desert plateau from the tribe of Reuben), Ramoth in Gilead (from the tribe of Gad), and Golan in Bashan (from the tribe of Manasseh). These, then, were the cities set aside to be sanctuaries for all the Israelites and for the foreigners residing among them, so that anyone who killed a person accidentally could flee there and not die at the hands of someone seeking blood revenge until there was a trial before the congregation.