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Laws Concerning Unsolved Murder

21:1 If a homicide victim1 should be found lying in a field in the land the Lord your God is giving you,2 and no one knows who killed3 him, 21:2 your elders and judges must go out and measure how far it is to the cities in the vicinity of the corpse.4 21:3 Then the elders of the city nearest to the corpse5 must take from the herd a heifer that has not been worked—that has never pulled with the yoke—21:4 and bring the heifer down to a wadi with flowing water,6 to a valley that is neither plowed nor sown.7 There at the wadi they are to break the heifer’s neck. 21:5 Then the Levitical priests8 will approach (for the Lord your God has chosen them to serve him and to pronounce blessings in his name,9 and to decide10 every judicial verdict11) 21:6 and all the elders of that city nearest the corpse12 must wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley.13 21:7 Then they must proclaim, “Our hands have not spilled this blood, nor have we14 witnessed the crime.15 21:8 Do not blame16 your people Israel whom you redeemed, O Lord, and do not hold them accountable for the bloodshed of an innocent person.”17 Then atonement will be made for the bloodshed. 21:9 In this manner you will purge out the guilt of innocent blood from among you, for you must do what is right before18 the Lord.


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