Article: Exodus 20:13 Thou Shalt Not KILL by Will Kinney

From Textus Receptus

Jump to: navigation, search

Exodus 20:13 and the KJB critics - "Thou shalt not kill."

There are those who argue that the King James Bible is in error for saying: "Thou shalt not kill." They insist it should be as the NKJV, NIV and NASB read with "You shall not murder."

It should be noted that ALL the versions, including the NKJV, NIV, and NASB, translate this same Hebrew word as " TO KILL" in other passages. One such example is found in Numbers 35:27. Throughout this chapter the same word found in Exodus 20:13, is used 16 times and variously translated as "kill, slayer, manslayer, murderer, and put to death."

In Numbers 35:26-27 we read: "But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled; And the revenger of blood find him...and the revenger of blood KILL the slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood." The NIV, NKJV, NASB, ESV etc. all read: "the revenger of blood KILL the slayer".

Regarding Exodus 20:13, not only does the King James Bible read "Thou shalt not kill" but so also do Coverdale 1535, Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1599, the 1936 Hebrew Publishing Company version, the Catholic Douay 1950, the Douay-Rheims, Darby 1890, the American Standard Version 1901, the Revised Standard Version 1952, Lamsa's 1933 translation of the Syriac Peshitta, the St. Joseph New American Bible 1970, Webster's 1833 translation, the KJV 21st Century Version, Green's Modern KJV 1998, the Spanish Reina Valera (no matarás), the New Life Bible 1969, the Updated Bible Version 2003, and the Third Millenium Bible.

Dr. Thomas Holland on Exodus 20:13 "Thou shalt not kill."

Modern Versions and the Sixth Commandment

Recently I have been asked about the sixth commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," as compared with the majority of contemporary versions, "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13 NIV). Because I have had this question before, I thought it might be well to address it for the student's consideration.

Personally, as with so many renderings, I do not have a problem with either "kill" or "murder." Both are a proper translation of the Hebrew word "raw-tsakh" and have to do with putting another person to death. The King James Version translates this word as "kill" (Exod. 20:13 and Deut. 5:17) and as "murder" (Jer. 7:9 and Hos. 6:9). The two are used synonymously in English and the Scripture. For example, if a man shoots another man in front of a witness, the witness may say, "You killed him." That is true, but he will be charged with murder. Common sense and our English dictionaries demonstrate that these two words mean the same thing.

Nevertheless, those who oppose the Authorized Version have stated that the KJV has mistranslated the Hebrew word "raw-tsakh" as "kill" when it really should be "murder" or that the word "murder" is a better translation. But is that really the case? It may come as a surprise to those who make such claims against the KJV that the weight of the evidence is against them.

First we must consider the Hebrew. As mentioned above the Hebrew word "raw-tsakh" is translated as "kill" and "murder" in the KJV. There are also several other words translated as "kill" or "murder" in the KJV. But this word carries the idea of dashing in pieces, to slay, or to do violence in an unjust manner that causes death. It is never applied to the slaying of animals, such as in a sacrifice. Nor is it used in regard to the taking of life in war.

However, those who insist that the KJV has mistranslated the word have a problem when we see how other versions translate it in various additional passages. For example, the word "raw-tsakh" in Exodus 20:13 (and Deut 5:17 where the commandments are repeated) stands in the future tense. The same word in the same tense appears again in Deuteronomy 4:42. The text reads, "That the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live."

If the KJV is incorrect in its translation of "raw-tsakh" as "kill" and the NIV has corrected it as "murder" in Exodus 20:13, then we would expect this same Hebrew word that the KJV "mistranslates" to be "corrected" in Deuteronomy 4:42 as well. However, the NIV reads in this passage, "to which anyone who had killed a person could flee if he had unintentionally killed his neighbor without malice aforethought. He could flee into one of these cities and save his life." So do the NKJV, RSV, ESV.

If translating "raw-tsakh" in the future tense as "kill" is wrong in Exodus 20:13, then it is also wrong in Deuteronomy 4:42, but there modern versions translate it as "kill." Why? Because the word can be translated either way; either one is therefore a correct translation.

Second, the same is true of the New Testament. In Matthew 5:21, the KJV states, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment." Clearly the Lord is quoting from the Ten Commandments. Here the Greek word used is "phoneuseis" a form of the word "phoneuw" and again means "to kill, slay, murder" (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament). This Greek word appears several times in the New Testament and is translated as "kill" (Matt. 5:21; 23:31; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Rom. 13:9; James 2:11; 4:2; and 5:6). However, it is also translated as "murder" in Matthew 19:18 and as "slew" in Matthew 23:35.

If the KJV was incorrect with the Hebrew by translating it as "kill" in Exodus 20:13, we must say that it is also incorrect when translating the Greek word in Matthew 5:21 as "kill." However, as with the Old Testament Hebrew word, modern versions translate the Greek "phoneuw" as both "murder" and "kill." Yet in James 4:2 the NIV translates this Greek word as "kill." Again, this demonstrates that it means either.

Finally, we come to the English. Both my 1828 and 1975 Webster Dictionaries inform me that the word "kill" means, "to deprive of life." The word "murder" means, "the crime of unlawfully killing a person." Both can be used interchangeably, in that it is impossible to murder a person without killing them. However, there are those who still object to the phrase, "thou shalt not kill" insisting that it must be "you shall not murder." Therefore, so they state, modern versions have clarified the difference for us. But have they really?

The English word "kill" means to deprive of life. The word "murder" means to unlawfully kill a person." Therefore, by English definitions, the word murder involves an unlawful act. However, if it is lawful it would not be murder to deprive someone of life. With this in mind, I certainly think the phrase "thou shalt not kill" is much better. For this simple reason, abortion is the law of the land. It is not illegal for a doctor to deprive a living child of its life if the mother consents to this act. I can almost hear the liberal theologian justifying abortion on the grounds that it is not murder because it is not unlawful. The same may be said of euthanasia. While it is not the law of our land yet, it is the law of the land in many countries and it not an unlawful act in those nations. Nevertheless, both acts deprive a living being of their life. Both acts KILL. With this in mind, which do you think is really the better translation?

Yours in Christ Jesus, Dr. Thomas Holland

In addition to Dr. Holland's comments about the word correctly being translated as either to kill or to murder in the King James Bible, I would like to add some additional support for his position.

If, as the KJB critics affirm, there is a distinct difference between "to kill" and "to murder", they are contradicted by the very versions they promote. Other words are also translated as both "to kill" and "to murder", and often when describing the clear act of what we would call "murder", the NKJV, NIV, NASB use the word "to kill".

The Hebrew word 'harag' # 2026, is translated by all these versions as both to kill and to murder, showing them to be synonymous terms. Notice these few examples of the many that could be given.

Genesis 4:8 "And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and SLEW him." NASB, NIV, NKJV - "KILLED him". See also Genesis 4:23, 25.

Genesis 27:41 "And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand: then will I SLAY my brother Jacob." NASB, NIV, NKJV - "I will KILL my brother Jacob."

Genesis 34:25-26 This incident occured when Shechem the Hivite had taken Dinah, the sister of the sons of Jacob, and lay with her. He then wanted to take her as his wife and the sons of Jacob lied to the people, saying they would join them if they were circumcised. "And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, (after being circumcised, and were defenseless), that the two sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and SLEW all the males. And they SLEW Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went out." NKJV, NIV, NASB - "KILLED all the males", "KILLED Hamor and Shechem".

Genesis 37:20 Here the brothers of Joseph envied him and wanted to kill him. Another clear case of what we would call "murder". "Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us SLAY him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him; and we shall see what will become of his dreams." NIV, NASB, NKJV - "let us KILL him".

Exodus 21:14 "But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor, TO SLAY him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die." NKJV, NIV, NASB - "KILL HIM".

These are just a few of many examples found in the modern versions where the clear act of "murder" is referred to as "killing". The King James Bible is not in error in Exodus 20:13 and the Bible critics have not done their homework. It can rightly be said of the KJB critics as of other false teachers: "understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm." 1 Timothy 1:7.

Will Kinney

Objections raised:

Re: Exodus 20:13 Thou shalt not kill

This objection was raised at a Bible club by a Whateverist who opposes the KJB.

"Both you and Dr. Holland skip the obvious thing here, Will. Dr.Holland defines 'kill' as to end a life, for any reason, while murder is UNLAWFULLY killing another person. Therefore, by those definitions,"thou shalt not kill" is a blanket prohibition against killing ANYTHING FOR ANY REASON.

Wherever else the Hebrew 'ratsach' is rendered "kill", there's a contextual indication that indicates the reason behind the killing, be it battle, the killing of a sacrificial animal, an execution, or murder. Exd.20:13 has no such contextual tag. Therefore, in this case, "murder" is the better rendering, since God was NOT forbidding any killing whatsoever. And murder is the act of wrongfilly ending the life of another PERSON, and does NOT apply to the killing of animals. We see throughout the Bible that MURDER was the act forbidden by God.

When we see how often this one little verse from the KJV has been misused by the opponents of capital punishment and those trying to avoid military service, we should stop and think awhile."

My Response: Mr...., you have solved nothing by your way of defining words, but rather have created more problems than solutions. I know of many Christians who with a good conscience before God believe that to kill another person for any reason whatsoever is murder. They believe that for the state to kill a killer (or to kill the murderer) is still murder. You are guilty of doing the very act you are condemning the murderer for. Many Christians likewise believe any act of war whereby a Christian is called upon to kill another human being is still murder. They even have a lot of Scripture to back up their views.

"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" Mat. 5:44.

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." Mat. 5:38-39

"And the soldiers likewise demanded of him (John the Baptist), saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages." Luke 3:14

"My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." John 18:36

"he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints." Rev. 13:10

"Then Jesus said unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." Mat. 26:52

Many sincere Christians believe that to kill that other person whom you never met before and who has done nothing against you personally is an act of murder, even if your government tells you to do so. You have solved nothing by changing "Thou shalt not kill" to "you shall not murder".

If we take your definitions and use the modern versions you promote, then using the examples I listed, we can say that the sons of Jacob were not guilty of murder, they merely "killed" the people of Shechem. Why did they kill them? Because they raped their sister, but it wasn't "murder". So also Lamech just killed another man because he hit him first, but he didn't "murder" him. Joseph's brothers were not guilty of "murder" in their hearts. They only wanted to "kill" Joseph and they had a right to do so because they were envious. And then of course the act of "killing babies" is OK because they are not really "murdering" them. Murder is against the law and abortion is legal, so it is merely "killing babies", not "murdering" them.

Mr...., the KJB and all the other versions I listed are not wrong for saying "Thou shalt not kill". No matter which version you use, you still have to use some common sense and compare Scripture with Scripture to find out the intended meaning of the passage, and still some Christians will not reach the same conclusions as others.

Will Kinney

External Link

Other Artilces by Will Kinney in the Textus Receptus database ~

Old Testament

Genesis Genesis 1:28 Replenish or Fill? - Genesis 6:6 Can God repent? - Genesis 22:1 Did God "Tempt" Abraham? Exodus Exodus 20:13 Thou Shalt Not KILL - Exodus - the Israelites "borrowed" of the Egyptians Numbers Numbers 22 Why was God Angry with Balaam? Job Bible Babel in Job - a comparative study 1 Samuel 1 Samuel 13:21 "a file" a "pim" or "two-thirds of a shekel"? 2 Samuel 2 Samuel 21:8 Michal or Merab? - 2 Samuel 21:19 Who Killed Goliath? 1 Kings 1 Kings 20:38 ashes upon his face - 1 Kings 22:38 "washed his armour" or "while the harlots bathed" NKJV Nonsense Psalms Psalm 8:5 Lower than the Angels, or a little lower than God? - Answering Doug Kutilek's anti-Preservation in Psalm 12 - Psalm 74:8 the synagogues of God; Psalm 77:2 my sore ran in the night - Psalms 1 How Different the Versions! - Psalms 2 How Different the Versions! - Psalms 3 How Different the Versions! - Psalms 4 How Different the Versions! - Psalms 5 How Different the Versions! Proverbs NKJV Bible Babel in Proverbs - Bible Babel in Proverbs Isaiah Isaiah - a Comparative Study - Does God Create Evil? Isaiah 45:7 Jeremiah Jeremiah 8:8 the pen of the scribes is in vain - Jeremiah 27:1 Jehoiakim or Zedekiah? - Ezekiel Ezekiel 29:7 Hebrew, Greek or Syriac? Hosea Hosea - a Comparative Study

New Testament

Did Jesus Tell Them to Take a Staff or Not? Matthew Is Matthew 23:14 Scripture or not? - Matthew 27:44 cast in teeth Mark Gospel of Mark - a Modern Version Mix-up Luke Is "cousin" wrong in Luke 1:36 - Luke 17:36 Is it inspired Scripture or not? John John 1:18 the only begotten Son Acts Act 3:19 times of refreshing; 7:20 Moses was exceeding fair - Acts 9:5-7 hear the voice; 7:20 exceeding fair - Acts 5:30 slew and hanged; 19:20 word of GOD - Acts 13:33 this day have I begotten thee - Acts 19:9 DIVERS were hardened, and believed not - Acts 19:35 Diana or Artemis? Jupiter, Zeus or Heaven? - The So-called "Science" of Textual Criticism. Science or Hocus-Pocus? Gospels through Acts Romans James White discussing Romans 6:17 Philippians Textual Studies in Philippians 2 Timothy 2 Timothy 3:16 Inspiration of God or God Breathed? Hebrews The Book of Hebrews - a Comparative Study 1 Peter 1 Peter - Shifting Sands of Scholarship 1 John And These Three Are One Article defending the inclusion of 1 John 5:7. - 1 John 5:7 These three are one Jude The Book of Jude - James White's "inferior" texts Revelations Revelation 13 Confusion - Vials or Bowls in the book of Revelation - Rev.16:5 and SHALT BE; 5:8-10 redeemed US - Revelation 17:8 "the beast that was, and is not, and YET IS" - Acts 28:13 We Fetched a Compass; 1 Tim5:4 Nephews - Matthew 24:3; Hebrews 9:26 End of World or Age?

Modern Versions

Bible Babel 1 - Bible Babel 2 - Bible Babel 3 - Bible Babel 4 - The Oldest and Best Manuscripts? - Every Man for Himself Bible Versions - the HCSB, NET, ESV, TNIV, NKJV - The Inerrancy of Scripture - are you a Bible believer or a Bible agnostic? - True Bible? - Modern Versions Teach Racism - Modern Versions Teach Pride as a Virtue - Do Ghosts Exist? Modern Versions say Yes ESV The English Standard Version 2001 NASB The Ever Changing NASB's NKJV NKJV Word Changes - When the NKJV departs from the TR - The New KJV is a Hack Job Translation - NKJV vs KJB Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah - Is the NKJV the same as the KJB? - Don't go on Safari with a New KJV Translator - The NKJV is a Poor Substitute for the True Bible - NKJV vs KJB Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah - NKJV Bible Babel in Proverbs

King James Word Definitions

Lucifer - Jehovah - Unicorns - Is the word "Easter" an error in the King James Bible? - Are the words "CHURCH" and 'BISHOP' wrong? - Hell and Damnation in the King James Bible - "By and by" versus "the-by-and-by" - Servants or Slaves? - Is "charity" an error in the KJB? - The Grace of God Destroyed - "Would to God" - Another alleged 'error' bites the dustIs "bottles" an inaccurate word in the King James Bible?

King James Bible

Is King James onlyism Scriptural? - Does the KJB only position "blow up"? - What About Those Printing Errors in 1611? - Does the King James Bible depart from the Hebrew Texts? - Why do you King James Bible onlyies Attack the word of God? - The Historic Confessions support the KJB position - Can a Translation be Inspired? - The Old Latin versions and the KJB


NO LXX Part 1 - NO LXX - the Fictitious Use of Septuagint

Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls Fiasco

Hebrew Text

The NIV, NASB reject the Hebrew Texts - NIV, NASB reject Hebrew texts Part 2 - How to Destroy Messianic Prophecies

Greek Text

"The Greek" and Hebrew Games

Gender Inclusive Versions

Gender Inclusive Versions Dealing with the TNIV

Answering Critics

E mail exchange with Bible Agnostic Doug Kutilek - John MacArthur - Pastor with NO Infallible Bible - A Bible Believer's Response to James Price's book King James Onlyism - a New Sect - A King James Bible Believer's Response to Rick Norris' book 'The Unbound Scriptures' - 17 Parts

Part 1 - The "logical" Premise of Mr. Norris

Part 2 - Those Dreadful Archaic Words

Part 3 - Imperfect men, Perfect Bible

Part 4 - Revision

Part 5 - Printing Errors and Spelling

Part 6 - Inspiration and Inerrancy

Part 7 - Alleged Errors in the King James Bible

Part 8 - Let Me Count The Ways

Part 9 - Beasts or Living Creatures?

Part 10 - Mules or Hot Springs?

Part 11 - "Digged down a wall" or "hamstrung an ox"?

Part 12 - Steel, brass, copper, bronze - Paper or Plastic?

Part 13 - The Usual Suspects

Part 14 - The Preservation of the words of God

Part 15 - KJB Only versus Latin Vulgate Only Argument

Part 16 - Where Was the Word of God Before 1611?

Part 17 - Final Thoughts

Personal tools