Murder in the Bible

Murder is an act that occurs on various occasions in the Bible.

Biblical Definition

"Thou shalt not murder" (Exo 20) is the sixth of the Ten Commandments. "Murder" here is a translation of the Hebrew רצח ("retzach"), a term for killing used in the Bible in cases of criminal homicide. Numbers 23 deals with defining this crime and setting up the rules for revenge killing in ancient Israel. It is very clear that killing anyone with any weapon or in unarmed combat is considered murder (Num 35:16-21).

Accidental homicide

The Bible treats the case of accidental homicide with much severity. The term "murder" (רצח) is even used in the case of an accidental killing (Num 35:22-23). In this case, however, there were appointed cities where the accused could go and await a trial (Num 35:24). If the death was found to be indeed accidental, he was allowed to live in "exile" in the city of refuge until the death of the current High Priest (Num 35:25).

The "avenger of blood" (a close relative of the victim) could legally kill the accidental murderer if he leaves his city of refuge (Num 35:27). In one instance, the same Hebrew word which is used for the murderer’s killing (רצח) is used for the avenger’s killing. This may imply some impropriety in the blood vengeance, although sanctioned by law.

The Talmud indicates that the severity of punishment for an accidental homicide is due to the assumption that the killer failed in his duty of care while performing a dangerous action. If this was not the case, the killer is not subject to punishment.

Permissible homicide

Other cases in which killing was allowed were in self-defense (Exo 22:2) and during war. The Bible never uses the word "murder" (רצח) in conjunction with war, and God commands many times in the Bible to go to war even using total war (see Jos 10:19 and Jos 10:28-32).

References in the Bible

*Genesis 4– Cain slays Abel out of jealousy.
*Genesis 9:6– God prohibits the murder of men because they were created in His image.
*Exodus 2:11-12– Moses kills an Egyptian after seeing him beat a Hebrew slave.
*Exodus 20:13– The sixth of the The Ten Commandments prohibits murder.
*Numbers 35:25– There shall be cities of refuge put aside to house those who have killed another, but have not murdered them. The cities act as protection from the "blood avenger" ("Go'el Hadam")
*Numbers 35:31– The penalty for murder is death.
*Joshua 20:3– An exception is made for one who kills unknowingly.
*Second Samuel 11:14-17- This recounts David's actions when he sent Uriah to the front line of the battle because David knew this would kill him. []

The Crucifixion of Jesus

The following four entries deal with the crucifixion of Jesus:
*Matthew 27:22-66 []
*Mark 15:12-47 []
*Luke 23:20-56 []
*John 19:15-42 []

ecular Studies on the Bible and Murder

Psychologist Brad Bushman and colleagues conducted research in which student participants read a violent passage from the Book of Judges and then took part in an exercise designed to measure aggression. They reported that among students from Brigham Young University, 99% of whom "believed in God and in the Bible", aggression was increased when they were told that the passage came from the Bible and when it was edited to present God as endorsing the violence. Among students at Vrije Universiteit, aggression increased when the passage mentioned God, especially among believers. [cite journal |author=Brad J. Bushman |authorlink=Brad Bushman |coauthors=Robert D. Ridge, Enny Das, Colin W. Key, and Gregory L. Busath |year=2007 |title=When God sanctions killing; Effect of scriptural violence on aggression |journal=Psychological Science |volume=18 |issue=3 |pages=204–207 |url= |format=PDF |accessdate= 2007-08-16 |doi=10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01873.x ]


External links

* [ Bible-Topics]
* [ Thou shalt Not Murder]

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