9 Adonai said to Moshe, 10 “Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘When you cross the Yarden into the land of Kena‘an, 11 you are to designate for yourselves cities that will be cities of refuge for you, to which anyone who kills someone by mistake can flee. 12 These cities are to be a refuge for you from the dead person’s next-of-kin, who might otherwise avenge his kinsman’s death by slaying the killer prior to his standing trial before the community. 13 In regard to the cities you are to give, there are to be six cities of refuge for you. 14 You are to give three cities east of the Yarden and three cities in the land of Kena‘an; they will be cities of refuge. 15 These six cities will serve as refuge for the people of Isra’el, as well as for the foreigner and resident alien with them; so that anyone who kills someone by mistake may flee there.
16 “‘However, if he hits him with an iron implement and thus causes his death, he is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death. 17 Or if he hits him with a stone in his hand big enough to kill someone, and he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death. 18 Or if he hits him with a wood utensil in his hand capable of killing someone, and he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death. 19 The next-of-kin avenger is to put the murderer to death himself — upon meeting him, he is to put him to death. 20 Likewise, if he shoves him out of hatred; or intentionally throws something at him, causing his death; 21 or out of hostility strikes him with his hand, so that he dies; then the one who struck him must be put to death; he is a murderer; and the next-of-kin avenger is to put the murderer to death upon meeting him.
22 “‘But suppose he shoves him suddenly, but without hostility; or he throws something at him unintentionally; 23 or, without seeing him, being his enemy or seeking to harm him, he throws a stone big enough to cause death; and the person dies. 24 Then the community is to judge between the one who struck him and the next-of-kin avenger in accordance with these rules; 25 and the community is to save the killer from the next-of-kin avenger. The community is to return him to the city of refuge to which he fled, and he is to live there until the cohen hagadol, who was anointed with the holy oil, dies. 26 But if the killer ever goes beyond the limits of the city of refuge he fled to, 27 and the next-of-kin avenger finds him outside the limits of his city of refuge, and the avenger kills the killer, he will not be guilty of the man’s blood; 28 because he must stay in his city of refuge until the death of the cohen hagadol. But after the death of the cohen hagadol the killer may return to the land he owns. 29 These things shall constitute your standard for judgment through all your generations, wherever you live.
30 “‘If anyone kills someone, the murderer is to be put to death upon the testimony of witnesses; but the testimony of only one witness will not suffice to cause a person to be put to death. 31 Also, you are not to accept a ransom in lieu of the life of a murderer condemned to death; rather, he must be put to death. 32 Likewise, you are not to accept for someone who has fled to his city of refuge a ransom that would allow him to return to his land before the death of the cohen. 33 In this way you will not defile the land in which you are living. For blood defiles the land, and in this land no atonement can be made for the blood shed in it except the blood of him who shed it. 34 No, you are not to defile the land in which you live and in which I live; for I, Adonai, live among the people of Isra’el.’”
36 (LY: vii) The leaders of the clans of the family of the descendants of Gil‘ad, the son of Machir, the son of M’nasheh, of the families of the descendants of Yosef, approached and addressed Moshe and the leaders, the heads of the clans of the people of Isra’el. 2 They said, “Adonai ordered my lord to give by lot the land to be inherited by the people of Isra’el, and my lord was ordered by Adonai to give the inheritance of our kinsman Tz’lof’chad to his daughters. 3 But if they get married to anyone belonging to another of the tribes of the people of Isra’el, then their inheritance will be taken away from the inheritance of our ancestors and be added to the inheritance of the tribe they will then belong to; thus it will be taken away from the sum total of our inheritance. 4 And when the yovel of the people of Isra’el comes, their inheritance will be added to the land possessed by the tribe they will then belong to and be subtracted from the inheritance belonging to the tribe of our ancestors.”
5 Moshe gave this order to the people of Isra’el, in keeping with the word of Adonai: “The tribe of the descendants of Yosef is right in what it says. 6 Here is what Adonai has ordered concerning the daughters of Tz’lof’chad: ‘Let them be married to whomever they think best, but they must marry only into a family from their father’s tribe. 7 In this way no inheritance of the people of Isra’el will move from one tribe to another; for each of the people of Isra’el is to hold on to the land for inheritance belonging to his father’s tribe. 8 Every daughter who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the people of Isra’el is to become the wife of someone from the family of her father’s tribe, so that every one of the people of Isra’el will stay in possession of his ancestors’ inheritance. 9 Thus no inheritance will move from one tribe to another, for each of the tribes of the people of Isra’el will hold on to its own inheritance.”
(Maftir) 10 The daughters of Tz’lof’chad did as Adonai had ordered Moshe. 11 Machlah, Tirtzah, Hoglah, Milkah and No‘ah all got married to sons of their father’s brothers. 12 They were married into the families of the descendants of M’nasheh the son of Yosef, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of their father’s family.
13 These are the mitzvot and rulings which Adonai gave through Moshe to the people of Isra’el in the plains of Mo’av by the Yarden, across from Yericho.
Haftarah Masa‘ei: Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 2:4–28; 3:4 (A); 2:4–28; 4:1–2 (S)
B’rit Hadashah suggested reading for Parashah Mattot: Ya‘akov (James) 4:1–12
Hazak, hazak, v’nit’chazek!
Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened!