From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [1]

The Old Testament . Although the Israelites did not have a term that precisely fits our present-day idea of murder, they differentiated among killing, manslaughter, and murder in their legal terminology.

The Term for Murder in the Sixth Commandment . The sixth commandment ("you shall not murder"  Exodus 20:13;  Deuteronomy 5:17 ) has been misunderstood because of an ambiguity in terminology. The Hebrew word that was used in this case for "kill" (or murder) was the somewhat rare term rasah [   Psalm 42:11 ] or slaughter [  Ezekiel 21:27 ]). Although its exact meaning has defied explanation, in other contexts it could refer to killing that was inherently evil ( Judges 20:4;  Job 24:14;  Psalm 94:6;  Isaiah 1:21;  Hosea 6:9 ). It was also listed in abuses of the covenant community ( Jeremiah 7:9;  Hosea 4:2 ) and in lists of curses ( Deuteronomy 27:24-25 ). Jezebel committed murder ( rasah [   1 Kings 18:13 ), as did Ahab against Naboth ( 1 Kings 21:19 ) and Simeon and Levi against the Shechemites ( Genesis 34:26 ). However, the same term could also have applied to unintentional manslaughter ( Deuteronomy 4:41;  19:3-6;  Joshua 20:3 ), blood vengeance ( Numbers 35:27,30 ), the legal execution of a criminal ( Numbers 35:30 ), attempted assassination ( 2 Kings 6:32 ), and on one occasion it was used for the figurative killing of humans by animals ( Proverbs 22:13 ).

Discernment in Homicide Cases . The death penalty was posed for one who killed with premeditation, but not for accidental manslaughter ( Exodus 21:12-13;  Leviticus 24:17;  Deuteronomy 27:24 ). In fact, premeditated murder did not require a trial ( Exodus 21:14;  Numbers 35:19;  Deuteronomy 19:11-13 ). Thus, the Old Testament saw a fundamental difference between the two types of homicide ( Deuteronomy 19:1-13;  Joshua 20:1-7 ), providing two levels of meaning for rasah [   2 Samuel 14:7-11 ), who presented the evidence against the individual. Guilt was determined either by the intention of the killer or by the type of object used in the apparent manslaughter ( Numbers 35:16-21; some iron, stone, or wooden objects were considered likely to cause death ). However, there had to be at least two witnesses to convict a murderer ( Numbers 35:30;  Deuteronomy 17:6;  19:15;  1 Samuel 21:4 ). The blood avenger, who was responsible for the execution, was not allowed to pity the murderer or else the land would be defiled ( Numbers 35:34; David put himself in the hands of God because of this —  2 Samuel 12:13 ). No ransom was allowed since this would have signified consent with the crime, undermining the value of human life and breaking the covenant with God. There was also no substitutionary punishment ( Deuteronomy 24:16; although Saul's sons were demanded as ransom after his own death because he had murdered the Gibeonites  2 Samuel 21:1-9 ).

The Meaning of Rasah . Rasah probably had a specialized meaning, possibly in connection with the killing (whether premeditated or accidental) of anyone in the covenant community, especially that which brought illegal violence. The sixth commandment therefore protected the individual Israelite within the community from any danger. Only God had the right to terminate life; murder was an abrogation of his power that ignored humanity's created nature and value in the sight of God. God had to be propitiated since the covenant relationship had been broken ( Numbers 35:33 ). Murder deprived God of his property (the blood of the victim  Leviticus 17:11,14 ), which apparently passed to the control of the murderer ( 2 Samuel 4:11 ). Thus, the murderer's life was ransomed. Underlying this was the dictum in  Genesis 9:6 concerning the sanctity of life. The murderer had to receive a penalty consistent with this law (lex talionis) to purge the evil from their midst (  Genesis 4:10-11;  Deuteronomy 21:8 ) and to deter others ( Deuteronomy 13:11;  17:13;  19:20;  21:21 ). Rasah did not cover the subject of killing in war or capital punishment, which were done only at the command of God; thus, they were not in the same category as murder.

Other Terms for Murder . The most common Hebrew word for killing ( harag [   Exodus 2:14-15 ). Joab's spilling of the blood of Abner was condemned ( 2 Samuel 3:30;  1 Kings 2:5 ). David was responsible for the death of Uriah, although he did not physically kill him ( 2 Samuel 12:9 ). Judicial murder was also condemned ( Exodus 23:7;  Psalm 10:8;  94:6 ). Harag [   Genesis 4:8 ), and for the murderers of Ishbosheth ( 2 Samuel 4:11-12 ). Striking a parent (possibly with the intent to murder  Exodus 21:15 ), inducing death by miscarriage ( Exodus 21:22-23 ), and sacrificing children to a foreign god ( Leviticus 20:2-3 ) were apparently considered murder and were capital crimes. If a man beat a slave to death, he was probably punished (or better avenged) by being put to death by the covenant community ( Exodus 21:20 ). There was no legislation outlawing suicide, as it must have been very rare. Those who committed suicide in Scripture had been placed in a situation of certain death ( Judges 9:54;  16:30;  1 Samuel 31:4;  2 Samuel 17:23;  1 Kings 16:18 ).

Unsolved Murder . A strange ceremony was performed when the murderer (or manslayer) was not known ( Deuteronomy 21:1-9 ). Since there were religious implications (murder was a crime against God), the matter could not be left alone; the guilt had to be atoned for. The elders of the closest city were obliged to take responsibility for the act and instigated a procedure to remove the guilt. They took a heifer and broke its neck. They then washed their hands over the dead creature, symbolizing their accepting the burden for it, but not the guilt. They then declared that they were not eyewitnesses, and prayed for the innocence of the entire community. There was no compensation for the family of the victim.

The New Testament . Although the New Testament writers lived in a different legal environment, they were consistent in their view of murder with their Old Testament counterparts. Jesus interpreted the sixth commandment differently than the contemporary Jewish scholars (who had a narrowly literal view), and agreed with the spirit of the Old Testament law on homicide ( Matthew 5:21-22 ). He pointed out a spiritual cause for murder; its root was internal anger. One was not righteous by simply refraining from homicide; an angry person was also subject to judgment. He thus contended that hating one's brother was in the sphere of the command against murder, as it was part of a process leading to a potential murderous act (cf.  Leviticus 19:17-18 ). Jesus' words were in effect a full summary of the murder law (cf.  Exodus 21:12;  Deuteronomy 17:8 ). The intention as well as the act came under God's judgment. He condemned the evil disposition of the heart that lay at the root of the transgression. The beginning of the outward act of murder was sinful anger or hatred, an attitude that was a sin against the sixth commandment. James added that the cause of murder was a consequence of frustrated desire (4:2; cf.  1 Kings 21 ).

Humans were given the right to exact the death penalty for murder ( John 19:10-11;  Romans 13:1-4 ). The murderer's children were not guilty unless they had willingly participated in the crime ( Matthew 23:34-36;  27:25 ). A whole nation could be guilty of murder ( Matthew 27:25;  Acts 2:23,36;  3:15;  5:28;  7:52 ). Satan was considered the original murderer ( John 8:44 ). Murderers had no place in God's kingdom ( Galatians 5:20;  Revelation 21:8 ).

The death of Christ was the supreme example of murder in the Scriptures ( Matthew 27:20;  Mark 13:12;  14:55 ). His murder was predicted in the Passion narratives ( Mark 8:31;  9:31;  10:34 ). The Jews sought to murder him ( John 7:1,19;  11:53 ). His violent death was recounted by Peter ( Acts 5:30 ) and Paul ( Acts 26:21;  Ephesians 2:16 Christ was murdered in hostility ). Christ was symbolized as the slaughtered Lamb, signifying his humble obedience and innocence (  Revelation 5:6-12;  13:8 ). Slain martyrs were likewise labeled ( Revelation 6:9 ).

Mark W. Chavalas

See also Killing Kill; Ten Commandments; Holy War War

Bibliography . H. Boecker, Law and the Administration of Justice in the Old Testament  ; E. Nielsen, The Ten Commandments in New Perspective  ; A Phillips, Ancient Israel's Criminal Law: A New Approach to the Decalogue  ; idem, Journal of Jewish Studies 28 (1977): 105-26; J. Stamm and M. Andrew, The Ten Commandments in Recent Research  ; R. Westbrook, Studies in Biblical and Cuneiform Law .

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

The prevalence of murder was one of the dark facts in the social and political background of the early Apostolic Church. Fanaticism of a fierce and ruthless type was in the air, and human life was frequently as little regarded as is normal under such conditions. The resentment of the Zealots against the authority of Rome was a persistent fact in the situation from the third decade to the final catastrophe in a.d. 70, and when cruelty and oppression were carried to excess by Felix it was inevitable that there should arise in opposition a body of extremists to whom murder was merely a detail in a policy.

Thus during the time of Felix and Festus there arose the Sicarii (see Assassins), whose Jewish patriotism took a murderous shape. Their weapons were daggers ( sicae  ; cf. Latin sicarius , ‘a murderer.’ The law passed under Sulla against murderers was Lex Cornelia de Sicariis ). Armed with these, they moved with stealth through the crowds at festival seasons, seeking to remove their opponents by assassination. Then, in order to turn aside any possible suspicion, they gave way to loud expressions of grief. We find a reference to this group in  Acts 21:38, where the chief captain (ὁ χιλίαρχος), finding that St. Paul speaks Greek, asks: ‘Art thou not then that Egyptian, which before these days stirred up to sedition and led out into the wilderness the four thousand men of the Assassins (τετρακισχιλίους ἄνδρας τῶν σικαρίων)?’ The Sicarii must have been the easy instrument at hand to every clever impostor, and the incident referred to here was the most notable example. An Egyptian Jew gave himself out as a prophet and held out to a crowd in the wilderness the alluring promise that the walls of Jerusalem would fall down at his word and so make the city theirs once more. Felix, however, put down the movement and took many prisoners. Josephus gives two accounts of this false prophet, in one of which ( Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) II. xiii. 5) he says that the majority of the 30,000 followers were captured or slain, and in the other ( Ant. XX. viii. 6) that four hundred were killed and two hundred taken prisoners.

That murder was not unknown even among those identified with the Church may be inferred from  1 Peter 4:15, where the writer addresses a warning to Christians. They are not to resent the fiery trial, but to rejoice as those sharing the sufferings of Christ-only ‘Let none of you suffer as a murderer (ὡς φονεύς).’ In later days it was a commonplace of anti-Christian abuse to charge Christians with the horrors of child-slaying and cannibalism, but there seems to be no sufficient reason for reading into the passage quoted any reference to these charges. As C. Bigg has said, ‘A Christian might quite well be guilty of murder. The times were wild, and conversions must often have been imperfect’ ( International Critical Commentary , ‘Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude,’ Edinburgh, 1901, p. 177).

R. Strong.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

In the Scripture view an outrage or sacrilege (Philo, Spec. Leg. 3:15) on God's likeness in man.  Genesis 9:5-6, "whose sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God made He man." His blood was so sacred that "God requires it (compare  Psalms 9:12) of every beast"; so the ox that gored man must be killed ( Exodus 21:28). God's image implies in man a personal, moral, and responsible will. To cut short his day of grace and probation is the greatest wrong to man and insult to his Maker. Cain's punishment God Himself took in hand, dooming him to a life full of fears, remorse, and guilt. His life was temporarily spared, perhaps in order not to impede the natural increase of mankind at the first. But after the flood God delegated thenceforth the murderer's punishment, which is death, to man; life must go for life, blood for blood.

Murder results from the instigation of Satan the "murderer (of Adam's and Eve's souls, and Abel's body) from the beginning" ( John 8:44). Not only the killer but the hater is a murderer before God ( 1 John 3:12;  1 John 3:15).Even a slave's life sacrificed under the rod entailed death, or some heavy punishment as the judges should decide on the master, unless the slave survived the beating a day or two, when it was presumed the master did not intend to kill him and the loss of his slave was deemed enough punishment ( Exodus 21:12;  Exodus 21:20-21). A housebreaker might be killed in the act by night; but if by day he was to be sold, so sacred was life regarded ( Exodus 22:2-3). The cities of refuge saved the manslayer, but not the murderer, from the blood avenger. (See Cities Of Refuge )

Not even Jehovah's altar could save Joab ( 1 Kings 2:5-6;  1 Kings 2:31). Bloodshed in any way, even in war, brought pollution ( Numbers 35:33-34;  Deuteronomy 21:1-9;  1 Chronicles 28:3, David;  1 Chronicles 22:8). Striking a pregnant woman so as to cause death brought capital punishment. Two witnesses were required before anyone could be put to death for murder, a check on private revenge ( Numbers 35:19-30;  Deuteronomy 17:6-12;  Deuteronomy 19:12;  Deuteronomy 19:17). The sovereign assumed the power of executing or pardoning murderers ( 2 Samuel 1:15-16, David and the Amalekite slayer of Saul;  2 Samuel 13:39;  2 Samuel 14:7-11, David in respect to Anmon and Absalom;  1 Kings 2:34, Solomon and Joab).

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [4]

The designed and malevolent taking of human life, was by the original appointment of God, a crime to be punished by death. Cain, the first murderer, recognized it as such,  Genesis 4:14 . The ground for the death penalty for murder is the eminent dignity and sacredness of man as a child of God,  Genesis 9:5-6 . Like the Sabbath and marriage, it is a primeval and universal institution for mankind, and all nations have so recognized it,  Acts 28:4 . The Mosaic code reenacted it,  Leviticus 24:17; and while providing for the unintentional homicide a safe retreat, declares that deliberate murder must be punished by death, from which neither the city of refuge nor the altar of God could shield the criminal,  Exodus 21:12-14   Numbers 35:9-34   Deuteronomy 19:1-13   1 Kings 2:5-6,28-34 . Death was usually inflicted by stoning, upon the testimony of at least two witnesses,  Numbers 35:30 . If a corpse were found in the open fields, and the murderer could not be discovered, the town nearest to the spot was obliged to purge itself by a solemn ceremony, lest it should become liable to the judgments of God,  Deuteronomy 21:1-9 .

In various ways God is represented as specially abhorring this crime, and securing its punishment,  Deuteronomy 32:43   2 Samuel 21:1   Psalm 9:12   55:23   Hosea 1:4   Revelation 22:15 . Our Savior instructs us that one may be guilty, in the sight of God, of murder in the heart, without any overt act,  Matthew 5:21-22   1 John 3:15 . Nothing is said especially in the law respecting selfmurder, and only the cases of Saul, Ahithophel, and Judas are described in the Bible,  1 Samuel 31:4   2 Samuel 17:23   Acts 1:18 . Of all murders, that of the soul is incomparably the most awful,  John 8:44 , and many plunge not only themselves but also others into the second death.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [5]

The act of wilfully and feloniously killing a person upon malice or forethought. Heart murder is the secret wishing or designing the death of any man; yea, the Scripture saith, "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer, "  1 John 3:15 . We have instances of this kind of murder in Ahab,  1 Kings 22:9 . Jezebel,  2 Kings 19:2 . the Jews,  Mark 11:18 . David,  1 Samuel 25:21-22 .  Jonah 4:1;  Jonah 4:4 . Murder is contrary to the authority of God, the sovereign disposer of life,  Deuteronomy 32:39; to the goodness of God, who gives it,  Job 10:12; to the law of nature,  Acts 16:28; to the love a man owes to himself, his neighbour, and society at large. Not but that life may be taken away, as in lawful war,  1 Chronicles 5:22; by the hands of the civil magistrate for capital crimes,  Deuteronomy 17:8;  Deuteronomy 17:10; and in self-defence.

See Self- Defence According to the divine law, murder is to be punished with death,  Deuteronomy 19:11-12 .  1 Kings 2:28-29 . It is remarkable that God often gives up murderers to the terrors of a guilty conscience,  Genesis 4:13;  Genesis 4:15;  Genesis 4:23-24 . Such are followed with many instances of divine vengeance,  2 Samuel 12:9-10; their lives are often shortened,  Psalms 55:23; and judgments of their sin are oftentimes transmitted to posterity,  Genesis 49:7 .  2 Samuel 21:1 .

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [6]

Among the Hebrews murder was always punished with death; but involuntary homicide, only by banishment. Cities of refuge were appointed for involuntary manslaughter, whither the slayer might retire and continue in safety till the death of the high priest,  Numbers 35:28 . Then the offender was at liberty to return to his own house, if he pleased. A murderer was put to death without remission, and the kinsman of the murdered person might kill him with impunity. Money could not redeem his life: he was dragged away from the altar, if he had there taken refuge. When a dead body was found in the fields of a person slain by a murderer unknown, Moses commanded that the elders and judges of the neighbouring places should resort to the spot,  Deuteronomy 21:1-8 . The elders of the city nearest to it were to take a heifer which had never yet borne the yoke, and were to lead it into some rude and uncultivated place, which had not been ploughed or sowed, where they were to cut its throat. The priests of the Lord, with the elders and magistrates of the city, were to come near the dead body, and, washing their hands over the heifer that had been slain, were to say, "Our hands have not shed this blood, nor have our eyes seen it shed. Lord, be favourable to thy people Israel, and impute not to us this blood, which has been shed in the midst of our country." This ceremony may inform us how much horror they conceived at the crime of murder; and it shows their fear that God might avenge it on the whole country; which was supposed to contract pollution by the blood spilt in it, unless it were expiated, and avenged on him who had occasioned it, if he could be discovered.

Holman Bible Dictionary [7]

The prohibition against murder is found in the Ten Commandments, the heart of Hebrew law ( Exodus 20:13;  Deuteronomy 5:17 ). Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being by another. Deliberately taking the life of a human being ursurps the authority that belongs to God. The prohibition against murder is a hedge to protect human dignity.

The Old Testament ( Genesis 9:6 ) prescribed that a murderer should be prepared to forfeit his own life. In  Numbers 35:16-31 , careful attention is given to determining whether a killing is to be classified as murder.

Jesus removed the concept of murder from a physical act to the intention of one's heart ( Matthew 5:21-22 ). According to Jesus, murder really begins when one loses respect for another human being. Spitting in the face of another, looking with contempt upon another, or unleashing one's anger are signs that a murderous spirit is present. Jesus forces us to move to the spirit behind the prohibition of murder. We are compelled to do all that we can do to protect the life of our neighbor and help it flourish. The writer of 1John pushed Jesus' teaching to its ultimate: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him ( 1 John 3:15 ). See Image Of God , Ten Commandments .

D. Glenn Saul

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [8]

1: Φόνος (Strong'S #5408 — Noun Masculine — phonos — fon'-os )

is used (a) of a special act,  Mark 15:7;  Luke 23:19,25; (b) in the plural, of "murders" in general,  Matthew 15:19;  Mark 7:21 (  Galatians 5:21 , in some inferior mss.);  Revelation 9:21; in the singular,  Romans 1:29; (c) in the sense of "slaughter,"  Hebrews 11:37 , "they were slain with the sword," lit., "(they died by) slaughter (of the sword);" in  Acts 9:1 , "slaughter." See Slaughter.

 Matthew 19:18RvKillSlay.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [9]

Mule. The law of Moses, while it protected the accidental homicide, defined with additional strictness, the crime of murder. It prohibited compensation or reprieve of the murderer, or his protection, if he took refuge in the refuge city, or even at the altar of Jehovah .  Exodus 21:12;  Exodus 21:14;  Leviticus 24:17;  Leviticus 24:21;  1 Kings 2:5-6;  1 Kings 2:31.

The duty of executing punishment on the murderer is in the law expressly laid on the "revenger of blood;" but the question of guilt was to be previously decided by the Levitical tribunal. In regal times, the duty of execution of justice on a murderer seems to have been assumed, to some extent, by the sovereign, as was also the privilege of pardon.  2 Samuel 13:39;  2 Samuel 14:7;  2 Samuel 14:11;  1 Kings 2:34. It was lawful to kill a burglar taken at night in the act, but unlawful to do so after sunrise.  Exodus 22:2-3.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [10]

The first death was caused by murder when Cain slew his brother Abel, and the second recorded is when Lamech said, "I have slain a man to my wounding," or "for my wound;" which may mean that he did it in self-defence.  Genesis 4:23 . God set a mark upon Cain that none should kill him; and Lamech said, "If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold." After the flood God made a definite law concerning murder. God would require expiation for the blood of man, whether it was shed by beast or by man; at the hand of every man's brother, or kinsman, God would require the life of man. "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man."  Genesis 9:5,6 . This injunction was repeated in the law, and has never been rescinded or modified. Neither does the N.T. in any way alter it: indeed it incidentally confirms it by declaring that the magistrate does not bear the sword in vain.   Romans 13:4 . God claims the life of man, and none can set aside His rights.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [11]

 Numbers 35:16,18,21,31 Leviticus 24:17 Genesis 9:5,6 John 8:44 1 John 3:12,15 Exodus 21:12,14 Deuteronomy 19:11,13 2 Samuel 17:25 20:10 Numbers 35:19-30 Deuteronomy 17:6-12 Deuteronomy 21:1-9 Exodus 21:15-17 Deuteronomy 27:16

Webster's Dictionary [12]

(1): ( n.) The offense of killing a human being with malice prepense or aforethought, express or implied; intentional and unlawful homicide.

(2): ( n.) To kill with premediated malice; to kill (a human being) willfully, deliberately, and unlawfully. See Murder, n.

(3): ( n.) To destroy; to put an end to.

(4): ( n.) To mutilate, spoil, or deform, as if with malice or cruelty; to mangle; as, to murder the king's English.

King James Dictionary [13]

MUR'DER, n. L. mors.

1. The act of unlawfully killing a human being with premeditated malice, by a person of sound mind. To constitute murder in law, the person killing another must be of sound mind or in possession of his reason, and the act must be done with malice prepense, aforethought or premeditated but malice may be implied, as well as express. 2. An outcry, when life is in danger.


1. To kill a human being with premeditated malice. See the Noun. 2. To destroy to put an end to.

Canst thou murder thy breath in middle of a word?

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [14]

Every sinner is a soul-murderer. Hence the prophet saith, "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help." ( Hosea 13:9.)

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [15]

MURDER . See Crimes, § 7; Refuge [Cities of].

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [16]

(properly קֶטֶל , which, however, is rendered "slaughter" in the Auth. Ver., from קָטִל , to "kill," Φόνος ). The criminal law of the Israelites naturally recognised the distinction between wilful murder and accidental or justifiable homicide ( Numbers 25:16 sq.), although in the legislative language itself the word רֹצֵח is used for both kinds of manslaughter (see especially  Numbers 35:26;  Deuteronomy 19:3, etc.). Murder was invariably visited with capital punishment ( Leviticus 24:17; comp.  Genesis 9:6), without the possibility of expiation. Mere homicide (the act of בַּשְׁגּגָה מִכָּה נֶפֶשׁ ,  Numbers 35:15, or דִעִת רֹצֵחִ אֶתאּרֵעֵהוּ בַּבְלַי ,  Deuteronomy 4:42) was, however, liable to a forfeiture of life according to all ancient national observances. Winer, 2:105. (See Ewald, Alterthiimer Des V. Israel, pages 146-154.) (See Blood- Revenge).

The principle on which the act of taking the life of a human being was regarded by the Almighty as a capital offence is stated on its highest ground as an outrage-Philo calls it sacrilege-on the likeness of God in man, to be punished even when caused by an animal ( Genesis 9:5-6, with Bertheau's note; see also  John 8:44;  1 John 3:12;  1 John 3:15; Philo, De Spec. Leg. 3:15, volume 2, page 313). Its secondary or social ground appears to be implied in the direction to replenish the earth which immediately follows ( Genesis 9:7). The exemption of Cain from capital punishment may thus be regarded by anticipation as founded on the social ground either of expediency or of example ( Genesis 4:12;  Genesis 4:15). The postdiluvian command, enlarged and infringed by the practice of blood- revenge, which it seems to some extent to sanction, was limited by the Law of Moses, which, while it protected the accidental homicide, defined with additional strictness the crime of murder. It prohibited compensation or reprieve of the murderer, or his protection if he took refuge in the refuge- city, or even at the altar of Jehovah, a principle which finds an eminent illustration in the case of Joab ( Exodus 21:12;  Exodus 21:14;  Leviticus 24:17;  Leviticus 24:21;  Numbers 35:16-18;  Numbers 35:21;  Numbers 35:31;  Deuteronomy 19:11;  Deuteronomy 19:13;  2 Samuel 17:25;  2 Samuel 20:10;  1 Kings 2:5-6;  1 Kings 2:31; see Philo, 1.c.; Michaelis, On Laws Of Moses, § 132). Bloodshed even in warfare was held to involve pollution ( Numbers 35:33-34;  Deuteronomy 21:1;  Deuteronomy 21:9;  1 Chronicles 28:3). Philo says that the attempt to murder deserves punishment equally with actual perpetration; and the Mishna, that a mortal blow intended for another is punishable with death; but no express legislation on this subject is found in the Law (Philo, 1.c.; Mishna, Sanh. 9:2).

No special mention is made in the Law (a) of child murder, (b) of parricide, nor (c) of taking life by poison, but its animus is sufficiently obvious in all these cases ( Exodus 21:15;  Exodus 21:17;  1 Timothy 1:9;  Matthew 15:4), and the third may perhaps be specially intended under the prohibition of witchcraft ( Exodus 22:18; see Joseph. Ant. 4:8, 34; Philo, De Spec. Leg. 3:17, volume 2, page 315).

It is not certain whether a master who killed his slave was punished with death ( Exodus 21:20; Knobel, ad loc.). In Egypt the murder of a slave was punishable with death as an example Afortiori in the case of a freeman; and parricide was punished with burning; but child-murder, though regarded as an odious crime, was not punished with death (Diod. Sic. 1:77). The Greeks also, or at least the Athenians, protected the life of the slave (Miiller, Dorians, 3:3, § 4; Wilkinson, Anc. Eg. 2:208, 209).

No punishment is mentioned for suicide attempted (comp.  1 Samuel 31:4 sq.;  1 Kings 16:18;  Matthew 27:5; see  2 Maccabees 14:41 sq.), nor does any special restriction appear to have attached to the property of the suicide ( 2 Samuel 17:23); yet Josephus says (War, 3:8, 5) that suicide was dealt with as crime by the Jews. Striking a pregnant woman so as to cause abortion was punished by a fine; but if it caused her death it was punishable with death ( Exodus 21:23; Joseph. Ant. 4:8, 33).

If an animal known to be vicious caused the death of any one, not only was the animal destroyed, but the owner also, if he had taken no steps to restrain it, was held guilty of murder ( Exodus 21:29;  Exodus 21:31; see Michaelis, § 274, volume 4, pages 234-5).

The duty of executing punishment on the murderer is in the Law expressly laid on the "revenger of blood;" but the question of guilt was to be previously decided by the Levitical tribunal. A strong bar against the licence of private revenge was placed by the provision which required the concurrence of at least two witnesses in any capital question ( Numbers 35:19-30;  Deuteronomy 17:6-12;  Deuteronomy 19:12;  Deuteronomy 19:17). In regal times the duty of execution of justice on a murderer seems to have been assumed to some extent by the sovereign, as well as the privilege of pardon ( 2 Samuel 13:39;  2 Samuel 14:7;  2 Samuel 14:11 :  1 Kings 2:34). During this period also the practice. of assassination became frequent, especially in the kingdom of Israel. Among modes of effecting this object may be mentioned the murder of Benhadad of Damascus by Hazael by means of a wet cloth ( 1 Kings 15:27;  1 Kings 16:9;  2 Kings 8:15; see Thenius, ad loc.: Jahn, Hist. 1:137; comp.  2 Kings 10:7;  2 Kings 11:1;  2 Kings 11:16;  2 Kings 11:20;  2 Kings 14:5;  2 Kings 15:14;  2 Kings 15:25;  2 Kings 15:30).

It was lawful to kill a burglar taken at night in the act, but unlawful to do so after sunrise ( Exodus 22:2-3).

The Koran forbids child-murder, and allows blood revenge, but permits money-compensation for bloodshed (2:21; 4:72; 17:230, ed. Sale). (See Manslayer).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [17]

mûr´der ( הרג , hāragh , "to smite," "destroy," "kill," "slay" (  Psalm 10:8;  Hosea 9:13 AV), רצח , rācaḥ , "to dash to pieces," "kill," especially with premeditation ( Numbers 35:16 and frequently;   Job 24:14;  Psalm 94:6;  Jeremiah 7:9;  Hosea 6:9 ); φονεύς , phoneús , "criminal homicide," from φονεύω , phoneúō , "to kill," "slay"; φόνος , phónos , from φένω , phénō , has the same meaning; ἀνθρωποκτόνος , anthrōpoktónos , "manslayer," "murderer," is used to designate Satan  John 8:44 and him that hates his brother   1 John 3:15; a matricide is designated as μντραλώας , mētralṓas  1 Timothy 1:9; compare ἀδελφοκτόνος , adelphoktónos , "fratricidal" (Wisd 10:3).

The plural of φόνος , phónos , "murders," occurs in   Matthew 15:19;  Mark 7:21;  Galatians 5:21 the King James Version;   Revelation 9:21; compare 2 Macc 4:3, 38; 12:6):

The Hebrew law recognized the distinction between willful murder and accidental or justifiable homicide  Numbers 25:16; but in legal language no verbal distinction is made. Murder was always subject to capital punishment ( Leviticus 24:17; compare  Genesis 9:6 ). Even if the criminal sought the protection of the sanctuary, he was to be arrested before the altar, and to be punished  Exodus 21:12 ,  Exodus 21:14;  Leviticus 24:17 ,  Leviticus 24:21;  Numbers 35:16 ,  Numbers 35:18 ,  Numbers 35:21 ,  Numbers 35:31 . The Mishna says that a mortal blow intended for another than the victim is punishable with death; but such a provision is not found in the Law. No special mention is made of ( a ) child murder; ( b ) parricide; or ( c ) taking life by poison; but the intention of the law is clear with reference to all these eases  Exodus 21:15 ,  Exodus 21:17;  1 Timothy 1:9;  Matthew 15:4 . No punishment is mentioned for attempted suicide (compare  1 Samuel 31:4;  1 Kings 16:18;  Matthew 27:5 ); yet Josephus says ( BJ , III, viii, 5) that suicide was held criminal by the Jews (see also  Exodus 21:23 ). An animal known to be vicious must be confined, and if it caused the death of anyone, the animal was destroyed and the owner held guilty of murder  Exodus 21:29 ,  Exodus 21:31 . The executioner, according to the terms of the Law, was the "revenger of blood"; but the guilt must be previously determined by the Levitical tribunal. Strong protection was given by the requirement that at least two witnesses must concur in any capital question  Numbers 35:19-30;  Deuteronomy 17:6-12;  Deuteronomy 19:12 ,  Deuteronomy 19:17 . Under the monarchy the duty of executing justice on a murderer seems to have been assumed to some extent by the sovereign, who also had power to grant pardon  2 Samuel 13:39;  2 Samuel 14:7 ,  2 Samuel 14:11;  1 Kings 2:34 . See Manslayer .