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Dictionaries :: Homicide

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International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia

Homicide:

hom'-i-sid (rotseach): Hebrew has no word for killing or murder; rotseach is the word for manslayer. The Greek for murder is phonos. Homicide was every conscious violent action against a human being with the immediate result of death. It was always to be punished by death, being considered a crime against the image of God. Killing is definitely forbidden in the sixth commandment (Ge 9:5 f; Ex 20:13; 21:12; Le 24:17,21; Nu 35:16-21; De 19:11-13). The penalty of death was not inflicted when the killing was unintentional or unpremeditated (Ex 21:13; Nu 35:22-25; Jos 20:3-5; compare Mishna, Makkoth, xi. 5). Cities of Refuge were founded to which the manslayer could escape from the "avenger of blood." There he had to abide till after the death of the officiating high priest. If he left the city before that event, the avenger who should kill him was free from punishment (Ex 21:13; Nu 35:10-15,25-28,32; De 19:1-13; Jos 20:2 ). See CITIES OF REFUGE. Killing a thief who broke in during the night was not accounted murder (Ex 22:2). Unintentional killing of the pregnant woman in a fray was punished according to the lexicon talionis, i.e. the husband of the woman killed could kill the wife of the man who committed the offense without being punished (Ex 21:22 f). This was not usually carried out, but it gave the judge a standard by which to fine the offender. If a man failed to build a battlement to his house, and anyone fell over and was killed, blood-guiltiness came upon that man's house (Dr 22:8). He who killed a thief in the daytime was guilty in the same way (Ex 22:3; compare the King James Version). Where a body was found, but the murderer was unknown, the elders of the city nearest to the place where it was found were ordered by a prescribed ceremony to declare that they were not guilty of neglecting their duties, and were therefore innocent of the man's blood (Dr 21:1-9). Two witnesses were necessary for a conviction of murder (Nu 35:30). If a slave died under chastisement, the master was to be punished according to the principle that "he that smiteth a man, so that he dieth, shall surely be put to death" (Ex 21:20; compare Ex 21:12). According to the rabbis the master was to be killed by the sword. Since in this passage the phrase "he shall die" is not used, some have supposed that punishment by death is not indicated. If the slave punished by the master died after one or two days, the master was not liable to punishment (Ex 21:21). Because of the words, "for he is his money," the rabbis held that non-Israelite slaves were meant. In ancient times the avenger of blood was himself to be the executioner of the murderer (Nu 35:19,21). According to Sanhedhrin 9:1 the murderer was to be beheaded. Nothing is said in the law about suicide.

Written by Paul Levertoff

Torrey's New Topical Textbook

Homicide: Distinguished from Murder

Exd 21:13,14; Num 35:16-21,25

Homicide: Justifiable, Described As

Killing persons condemned by law

Gen 9:6; Exd 35:2; Lev 24:16

Killing a thief in the night

Exd 22:2

Killing enemies in battle

Num 31:7,8

Killing a manslayer by next of kin

Num 35:27

Homicide: Unjustifiable, Described As

Killing without enmity

Num 35:22

Killing without lying in wait

Exd 21:13; Num 35:22

Killing by accident

Num 35:23; Deu 19:5

Homicide: The avenger of blood might slay those guilty of unjustifiable

Num 35:19,27

Homicide: Protection afforded in the cities of refuge to those guilty

Num 35:11,15

Homicide: Confinement in the city of refuge the punishment for

Num 35:25,28

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The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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