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Do Not Kill

Original Publication Date
August 30, 2015
Updated
Jan 10, 2023 1:15 AM
Tags
CommandmentsLawMurderAngerExodusDeuteronomy
Bible References
Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17
Status
Done
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Table of Contents
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This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on August 30, 2015 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.
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Introduction

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.

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.

Commandment

Thou shalt not kill.

Bible Verses

Discussion

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]β€”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.

Another thing to note is that there must be a difference between murder and killing. In Ecclesiastes 3:3, it says there is a time to kill. Also, if the penalty for killing someone is death, whoever executes the sentence should also be killed for killing someone, no? Just as today we have distinctions for murder, such as first degree murder, or manslaughter, or self defense, I believe God looks at the situation as a whole. This is evidenced by the creation of cities of refuge (Numbers 35:25), for accidental murders, what we would probably call manslaughter today.

Examples from the Bible

Cain kills Abel

Genesis 4β€” 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 2:11-15β€”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.

David has Uriah killed

2 Samuel 11β€”After finding out his affair with Bathsheba has produced a child, David tries to cover his sin. When his first attempt fails, he purposefully puts Uriah (Bathsheba’s husband) on the front line so he will die. God condemns David’s actions through a prophet and punishes him for the sin, even though he does not kill David for the sin.

Paul kills many saints

Acts 8:1β€”Paul kills many of Christ’s followers, specifically we know he participates in the stoning of Stephen.

Purim is the celebration that the Jews were not killed

Esther 10β€”Haman plots to have all the Jews killed but is foiled by Esther

References and Footnotes

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

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