Thou Shalt Not Kill

A look at the sixth commandment: thou shalt not kill.


Thou shalt not kill.
Exodus 20:13 KJV
Possibly one of the most simply stated commandments is the sixth commandment. Murder is the second sin we are given witness to in the world. After the flood, God tells Noah that because man is created in God's image, if a man's blood is spilled, the man who spilled the blood must also have his blood spilled.

Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.Genesis 9:6 KJV
Notice that to shed blood, does not necessarily mean to die (you can shed blood without dying); this is in line with Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5:21-22. Top


Thou shalt not kill.Exodus 20:13 KJVDeuteronomy 5:17 KJV

Bible Verses

  1. Genesis 9:6
  2. Exodus 20:13
  3. Leviticus 24:17
  4. Deuteronomy 5:17
  5. Numbers 35:33
  6. Matthew 5:21-24
  7. Matthew 19:18
  8. Mark 10:19
  9. Luke 18:20
  10. Romans 13:9-10
  11. James 2:11



Most people consider murder to be one of the worse crimes a person can commit. This law has been found in every culture, though some cultures did allow practices such as duels or human sacrifices. Murder without reason or outside of the "proper" custom has always been frowned upon. Interestingly, this universal law has no roots in nature. In fact many intelligent mammals (including both dolphins and baboons) commit infanticide[2]! Also included in the group of animals known to kill members of their own species are chimpanzees, man's supposed cousins[3]. One study even suggests that it's evolutionarily beneficial for them[4]—then why/how did mankind simultaneously determine it was wrong to kill other humans? It seems odd to me that all cultures would condemn the practice naturally. Of course it makes a lot more sense if you believe that the first murder was by Cain, the first person to be born (as opposed to created) on Earth, and people saw him punished by God. It also makes more sense if you believe that after the flood God told Noah man was special and that the price of shedding man's blood was to have your own blood shed. It makes more sense that Noah's sons would pass that teaching on to their children, than people randomly and unanimously deciding it wrong to kill. The latter seems highly improbable.

Examples from the Bible

Cain kills Abel

Genesis 4 — Cain kills Abel. God reprimands Cain before Cain has the chance to kill his brother (just as Jesus warns us in Matthew 5, that mere anger without justification is dangerous). As punishment for killing Abel, Cain is cursed to wander the Earth as a vagabond unable to cultivate the land. God protects Cain from vengeance via an undescribed mark.

Moses kills an Egyptian

Exodus 2:11-15 — Moses commits murder when he finds an Egyptian smiting a Hebrew. To smite means to hurt, kill, or punish[1], though we are not told which the Egyptian is doing in this verse. God does not punish Moses so it is possible that God viewed the killing as defense of someone in need, thus over looking the matter. Another possibilities could be that Moses was not held accountable because he had not been introduced to God (or God's laws) yet. I find the first possibility to be more probable, as Moses behavior after the murder indicate he knew it was wrong to kill (even if only by Egyptian law). There is also the possibility that God did criticize and/or inflict some type of punishment on Moses but he didn't bother to provide us with those details.

more to exist...


  1. "Entry for 'Smite'". Merriam Webster. 2015
  2. Thompson, Helen. "Why Some Mammals Kill Babies of Their Own Kind". November 2014
  3. Webb, Jonathan. "Murder 'comes naturally' to chimpanzees". BBC News. September 2014
  4. Balter, Michael. "Why do chimps kill each other?". Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science. September 2014

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