“Thou Shalt Not Kill” or “Thou Shalt Not Murder”?

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

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“I was taught that ‘thou shalt not kill’ should be translated ‘thou shalt not commit murder.’ Any help on that issue?”

This is often taught to make Exodus 20:13 compatible with the capital punishment taught in Genesis 9:6. But the Hebrew word for “kill” in Exodus 20:13 is sometimes used in reference to committing manslaughter (Num. 35:6,12), which is not the same as murder.

The compatibility of Genesis 9:6 and Exodus 20:13 is always found in the context of verses that seem to suggest they are incompatible. God sees a difference between murder and manslaughter (Num. 35:15-23). He also sees a difference between the cold-blooded murder of an innocent victim and the orderly execution of a guilty murderer by the government.

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