[quote=FightingFat]THOU SHALT NOT KILL
As a cradle Catholic, my study has revolved largely around the Gospel. I have never been a fan of the OT and lately have been troubled by some of it’s content. Would someone please help my understanding of this?
Whilst reading Exodus, Moses and the ten commandments, I have found myself deeply troubled. I read after the commandments were given Moses proceeded to break the 6th commandment (no murder, please) by eliminating those who would not follow the ways of the Lord. I realise that some make a distinction between killing and murdering it’s okay to kill things but not murder. Essentially if God commands that you take somebody out - it’s killing, not murder… I’ve heard that here many times, but I still cannot help but wonder that a law to guide all men was set out with foundations in murder (Moses killed an Egyptian and approximately half of the tribes of Israel). Is this how you see it?
It gets worse for me- I think that No.6’s closest translation is ‘Though shalt not murder the innocent’, so using that I can explain away the odd unjust chap being killed, (though it still doesn’t sit well with Jesus teachings for me) but the slaying of the firstborn of Israel? Were they not innocents?
Someone help me please!
(I’m coming from a non-Catholic, but sympathetic-Catholic, perspective, so be forewarned. :D) I was reading a a book on Islam, and of course, Islam has its critics who make the argument similar to the one you make: if Muhammad was a prophet, how could he have waged war, ordered people killed, etc.? The author (who is a well-respected, Western-educated Muslim currently living in the U.S.) suggests that one has to look at religion and society as people did in the past, before we had the current church-state separation in the West.
In ancient Israel, as well as in other parts of the Old World, to be a member of a religion was not a private affair. It was also to be a member of a community, a society, a nation, a state. So to relinquish one’s religion, essentially meant a form of treason, or betrayal, against society. Now, today, we also punish treason with imprisonment, or even death – but we no longer punish people for leaving a particular religion, because we’ve been able to separate religion from the state.
Thus, when Islamic law (which is currently being re-evaluated by modern Muslims) sentences death to someone who leaves Islam, in the pre-modern context in which that law was formulated, leaving Islam was seen as treason against society, against the community.
Likewise, it seems to me, Jewish law wasn’t simply “religious” – it also functioned as a set of social, cultural, and political laws. And thus to reject the laws given to Moses, would have meant treason against the newly forming Jewish nation, and thus would have called for the death penalty (in the extreme cases).
As far as innocents being killed, several options are open, it seems to me:
(1) God didn’t really say for innocents to be killed;
(2) Moses misinterpreted God’s command, and went a bit too far;
(3) (and the most morally troubling) God ordered innocents to be killed, but only so that greater good could come out of it.