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The Blue Letter Bible

Dictionaries :: Manslayer

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Easton's Bible Dictionary


one who was guilty of accidental homicide, and was entitled to flee to a city of refuge (Num 35:6,12,22,23), his compulsory residence in which terminated with the death of the high priest. (See CITY OF REFUGE.)

International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia


man'-sla-er (meratstseach, from ratsach (Nu 35:6,12); androphonos (1Ti 1:9)): A term employed with reference to both premeditated and accidental or justifiable killing. In the latter case, an asylum was granted (Nu 35:6,12) until the death of the high priest, after which the slayer was allowed to "return into the land of his possession" (Nu 35:28). The cases in which the manslayer was to be held clearly immune from the punishment imposed on willful killing were:

(1) death by a blow in a sudden quarrel (Nu 35:22);

(2) death by anything thrown at random (Nu 35:22,23);

(3) death by the blade of an axe flying from the handle (De 19:5).

Among the cases in which one would be held responsible for the death of another, is to be counted the neglectful act of building a house without a parapet (De 22:8).

Manslaughter, as a modern legal term, is employed to distinguish unpremeditated killing from coldblooded murder, but formerly (2 Esdras 1:26) it was used in a more general sense.

Written by Frank E. Hirsch


Smith's Bible Dictionary


one who kills another unintentionally, and is thus distinguished from a murderer, who kills with malice aforethought. The cases of manslaughter mentioned in Scripture appear to be a sufficient indication of the intention of the lawgiver.

(1.) Death by a blow in a sudden quarrel (Numbers 35:22).

(2.) Death by a stone or missile thrown at random. Ibid (Numbers 35:22-23).

(3.) By the blade of an axe flying from its handle (Deuteronomy 19:5). In all these and the like cases the manslayer was allowed to retire to a city of refuge. A thief overtaken at night in the act of stealing might lawfully be put to death, but if the sun had risen the killing him was to be regarded as murder (Exodus 22:2; 22:8).

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