Verse 16, Should We Kill?
|“||Should We Kill?
Exodus 20:13 Thou shalt not kill.
Leviticus 24:17 And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.
Exodus 32:27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.
1 Samuel 6:19 ¶ And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.
1 Samuel 15:2-8 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. And Saul gathered the people together and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah. And Saul came to a city of Amalek and laid wait in the valley. And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
Numbers 15:36 And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.
Hosea 13:16 Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.
For a discussion of the defense that the Commandments prohibit only murder, see "Murder, He Wrote", chapter 27 (Losing Faith In Faith: From Preacher To Atheist).
The Hebrew word translated "kill" in Exodus 20:13, ratsach, is translated as "murder" or "murderer" 17 out of the 47 times it is used in the Old Testament by the KJV. It is also translated "slayer," "slain," or "slayeth" 21 times, and twice it is translated as manslayer. Only 5 times is it translated as "kill." The confusion is in large part caused by the KJV not translating the same Hebrew words identically throughout the New Testament, and the word ratsach, had it been correctly translated into English as murder, would have removed any confusion.
God allows killing to stop, punish, or deter evil in cases of war or judicial punishment. See e.g. the commandment of "eye for an eye." However, harming others without provocation or even out of vengeance is prohibited; for God has always commanded that "vengeance is mine, I will repay." (Leviticus 19:18) The cases mentioned above do not violate the Biblical prohibition against murder; and were all judicial punishments ordained by God. In Exodus 32:7 the Israelites were sacrificing their own children alive to a golden calf to honor Baal and Molech while committing sexual perversions, so God ordered those responsible destroyed to prevent the spread of wickedly immoral practices.
In 1 Samuel 15:2-8 God ordered the destruction of a wicked group of people that had attacked the Israelites, murdering Israel's feeble rather than fighting Israel's warriors, presumably women, children, and the elderly. (cp. Deuteronomy 25:18) In the case of Hosea 13:16 the sins of Israel included idolatry involving child sacrifice (Ezekiel 16:20), for which they were punished horribly as a nation by God allowing their enemies to destroy them. The cases of 1 Samuel 6:19 and Numbers 15:36 were similarly judicial punishments commanded by God for disobedience, specifically working on the Sabbath and looking into the Ark of the Covenant, which represented God's Holy of Holies. At any rate, none of the cases could be considered murder as they clearly involved God-directed punishments through God's governance/government, not willful decisions by individuals to harm others without provocation or take vengeance into their own hands.