7 occurrences in 7 dictionaries

Reference: Murder


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, Ge 4:14. The ground for the death penalty for murder is the eminent dignity and sacredness of man as a child of God, Ge 9:5-6. Like the Sabbath and marriage, it is a primeval and universal institution for mankind, and all nations have so recognized it, Ac 28:4. The Mosaic code reenacted it, Le 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, Ex 21:12-14; Nu 35:9-34; De 19:1-13; 1Ki 2:5-6,28-34. Death was usually inflicted by stoning, upon the testimony of at least two witnesses, Nu 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, De 21:1-9. In various ways God is represented as specially abhorring this crime, and securing its punishment, De 32:43; 2Sa 21:1; Ps 9:12; 55:23; Ho 1:4; Re 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, Mt 5:21-22; 1Jo 3:15. Nothing is said especially in the law respecting self-murder, and only the cases of Saul, Ahithophel, and Judas are described in the Bible, 1Sa 31:4; 2Sa 17:23; Ac 1:18. Of all murders, that of the soul is incomparably the most awful, Joh 8:44, and many plunge not only themselves but also others into the second death.

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Wilful murder was distinguished from accidental homicide, and was invariably visited with capital punishment (Nu 35:16,18,21,31; Le 24:17). This law in its principle is founded on the fact of man's having been made in the likeness of God (Ge 9:5-6; Joh 8:44; 1Jo 3:12,15). The Mosiac law prohibited any compensation for murder or the reprieve of the murderer (Ex 21:12,14; De 19:11,13; 2Sa 17:25; 20:10). Two witnesses were required in any capital case (Nu 35:19-30; De 17:6-12). If the murderer could not be discovered, the city nearest the scene of the murder was required to make expiation for the crime committed (De 21:1-9). These offences also were to be punished with death, (1) striking a parent; (2) cursing a parent; (3) kidnapping (Ex 21:15-17; De 27:16).

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In the Scripture view an outrage or sacrilege (Philo, Spec. Leg. 3:15) on God's likeness in man. Ge 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 Ps 9:12) of every beast"; so the ox that gored man must be killed (Ex 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" (Joh 8:44). Not only the killer but the hater is a murderer before God (1Jo 3:12,15).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 (Ex 21:12,20-21). A housebreaker might be killed in the act by night; but if by day he was to be sold, so sacred was life regarded (Ex 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 (1Ki 2:5-6,31). Bloodshed in any way, even in war, brought pollution (Nu 35:33-34; De 21:1-9; 1Ch 28:3, David; 1Ch 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 (Nu 35:19-30; De 17:6-12; 19:12,17). The sovereign assumed the power of executing or pardoning murderers (2Sa 1:15-16, David and the Amalekite slayer of Saul; 2Sa 13:39; 14:7-11, David in respect to Anmon and Absalom; 1Ki 2:34, Solomon and Joab).

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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. Ge 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." Ge 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. Ro 13:4. God claims the life of man, and none can set aside His rights.

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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.

Ex 21:12,14; Le 24:17,21; 1Ki 2:5-6,31

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.

2Sa 13:39; 14:7,11; 1Ki 2:34

It was lawful to kill a burglar taken at night in the act, but unlawful to do so after sunrise.

Ex 22:2-3

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MURDER. 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, Nu 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, De 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.

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