(Ex. 20:13) Is killing right or wrong?

CLAIM: Here, God commands that killing is morally wrong, but then he commands murderers to be killed (Ex. 21:12). Is it right to kill or not?

RESPONSE: In the original Hebrew, there were seven different words for killing. Here, the word is rāṣaḥ, which specifically means murder.[1] Kaiser writes, “It carries the idea of murder with intentional violence. Every one of these instances stresses the act or allegation of premeditation and deliberateness—and that is at the heart of this verb.”[2] If Moses meant to refer to killing in general, he would have used the Hebrew word harag. Not all killing as murder any more than all sex is adultery. Therefore, the Bible is against murder –not necessarily killing. For instance, this command does not apply to execution (Ex. 21:12), self-defense (Ex. 22:2), or an accidental death (Deut. 19:5).



[1] Kaiser writes, “If any one of the seven words could signify ‘murder,’ where the factors of premeditation and intentionality are present, this is the verb.” Gaebelein, Frank E. (General Editor), and Walter Kaiser. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: With the New International Version of the Holy Bible. Vol. Two “Exodus.” Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1984. 424-425.

[2] Gaebelein, Frank E. (General Editor), and Walter Kaiser. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: With the New International Version of the Holy Bible. Vol. Two “Exodus.” Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1984. 425.