Cities for the Levites
Then the Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan [across from] Jericho, saying, “Command the Israelites to give to the Levites cities to live in from the inheritance of their possession; and you shall give to the Levites pasture lands around the cities. The cities shall be theirs to live in; and their pasture lands shall be for their cattle and for their herds and for all their livestock.
“The pasture lands around the cities which you shall give to the Levites shall reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits (1,500 ft.) around. You shall also measure outside the city on the east, south, west, and north sides two thousand cubits (3,000 ft.), with the city in the center. This shall belong to the Levites as pasture lands for the cities.
Cities of Refuge
[Among] the cities which you give to the Levites shall be the six cities of refuge, which you shall provide for the one who commits manslaughter to flee to; and in addition to them you shall give forty-two cities [to the Levites]. So you shall give to the Levites forty-eight cities in all, together with their pasture lands. As for the cities which you shall give from the possession of the Israelites, from the larger tribes you shall take many and from the smaller tribes few; each tribe shall give [at least some] of its cities to the Levites in proportion to [the size of] its inheritance which it possesses.”
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Tell the Israelites, ‘When you cross the Jordan [River] into the land of Canaan, then you shall select for yourselves cities to be cities of refuge, so that the one who kills any person unintentionally may escape there. The cities shall be to you as a refuge from the avenger, so that the one who has caused the death of another will not be killed until he has had a [fair] trial before the congregation. The cities which you are to provide shall be your six cities of refuge. You shall provide three cities on this [east] side of the Jordan [River], and three [more] cities in the land of Canaan; they are to be the cities of refuge. These six cities shall be a refuge for the Israelites and for the stranger and the resident alien among them; so that anyone who kills a person unintentionally may escape there.
‘But if he struck [a]his victim down [intentionally] with an iron object so that he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall certainly be put to death. If he struck his victim down [intentionally] with a stone in hand, which may cause a person to die, and he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall certainly be put to death. Or if he struck his victim down [intentionally] with a wooden object in hand, which may cause a person to die, and he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall certainly be put to death. The blood avenger shall himself put the murderer to death; he shall put him to death when he meets him. But if he pushed his victim out of hatred or threw something at him with malicious intent, and he died, or if, in enmity, he struck the victim down with his hand, and he died, the one that struck the victim shall certainly be put to death; he is a murderer. The blood avenger shall put the murderer to death when he meets him.
‘But if he pushed the victim suddenly, not in enmity, or threw anything at him without malicious intent, or without seeing him hit him [accidentally] with a stone object that could kill him, and he died, and [the offender] was not his enemy nor intending to harm him, then the congregation shall judge between the offender and the blood avenger according to these ordinances. The congregation shall rescue the offender from the hand of the blood avenger and return him to his city of refuge, [the place] to which he had escaped; and he shall live there until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the sacred oil. But if at any time the one guilty of manslaughter comes outside the border of his city of refuge to which he fled, and the blood avenger finds him outside the border of his city of refuge and kills the offender, the blood avenger will not be guilty of murder, because the offender should have remained in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest. But after the high priest’s death the offender shall return to the land of his possession.
‘These things shall be a statute for you throughout your generations wherever you may be.
‘If anyone kills a person [intentionally], the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of [two or more] witnesses; but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of [only] one witness. Moreover, you shall not accept a ransom [in exchange] for the life of a murderer guilty and sentenced to death; but he shall certainly be put to death. You shall not accept a ransom for him who has escaped to his city of refuge, so that he may return to live in his [own] land before the death of the high priest. So you shall not pollute and defile the land in which you live; for [the shedding of innocent] blood pollutes and defiles the land. No atonement (expiation) can be made for the land for the [innocent] blood shed in it, except by the blood (execution) of him who shed it. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I live, for I, the Lord, live among the people of Israel.’”
- Numbers 35:16 Lit him, and so throughout.
Inheritance by Marriage
The leaders of the fathers’ households of the family of the sons of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of the sons of Joseph, approached and spoke before Moses and before the leaders, the heads of the fathers’ households of the Israelites, and they said, “The Lord commanded my lord [Moses] to give the land by lot to the sons of Israel as an inheritance, and my lord was commanded by the Lord to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother to his daughters. But if the daughters marry any of the men from any of the other tribes of Israel, then their inheritance will be taken away from that of our fathers (tribal ancestors) and will be added to the inheritance of the tribe to which they belong; so it will be taken away from our allotted inheritance. When the [year of] Jubilee of the Israelites comes, then their inheritance will be added [permanently] to that of the tribe to which they belong; so their inheritance will be taken away from that of the tribe of our fathers (tribal ancestors).”
Then Moses commanded the Israelites in accordance with the word of the Lord, saying, “The statement of the tribe of the sons of Joseph is correct. This is what the Lord commands regarding the daughters of Zelophehad: ‘Let them marry whom they wish; only they must marry within the family of the tribe of their father.’ So no inheritance of the Israelites shall be transferred from tribe to tribe, for every one of the Israelites shall hold to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers (tribal ancestors). Every daughter who possesses an inheritance [of land] in any one of the tribes of the Israelites shall marry [only] a man whose family is of her father’s tribe, so that the Israelites may each possess the inheritance of his fathers (tribal ancestors). So no inheritance shall be transferred from one tribe to another, but each of the tribes of the Israelites shall hold to its own inheritance.”
The daughters of Zelophehad did as the Lord commanded Moses. For Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married to sons of their father’s brothers. They married into the families of the descendants of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of the family of their father.