Is Exodus 20:13 You shall not kill or murder?


#1

My Bible (NABRE) says You shall not kill for Exodus 20:13. I had a Protestant vehemently tell me the the actual wording should be You shall not murder.

Please let me know what you think. Thank you.


#2

It can be translated as either kill or murder, however murder is generally considered a more contextually correct translation. As the New American Bible's footnote states:

the Hebrew verb translated here as “kill” is often understood as “murder,” although it is in fact used in the Old Testament at times for unintentional acts of killing (e.g., Dt 4:41; Jos 20:3) and for legally sanctioned killing (Nm 35:30). The term may originally have designated any killing of another Israelite, including acts of manslaughter, for which the victim’s kin could exact vengeance. In the present context, it denotes the killing of one Israelite by another, motivated by hatred or the like (Nm 35:20; cf. Hos 6:9).

The word can have various meanings depending on its context. As the NAB notes the word is used in the Scriptures at times to refer to unintentional killing yet clearly a commandment that begins "thou shall not" cannot be referring to something unintentional. Exodus also proposes the death penalty for the violation of some laws, so clearly the commandment is not referring to killing of any kind. Essentially the commandment appears to be referring to illegal killing which is better understood as murder.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.