by Ken Trivette

This content is part of a series.

Murder In The First Degree (7 of 11)
Series: The Ten Commandments
Ken D. Trivette
Exodus 20:13

In 1974, all over the city of New Orleans, billboards displayed in bold letters, ''Thou shalt not kill.'' Because of a runaway homicide rate, the city fathers wanted to remind citizens of the sixth commandment. In the sixth commandment, God approaches the issue of taking another human being's life. G. Campbell Morgan in his book, The Ten Commandments writes, ''The immensity of the issue of death is so great that there can be no sin against humanity, and, therefore, against God, greater than that of taking life. In the sixth commandment God states, ''Thou shalt not kill.''

The commandment literally reads, ''Thou shalt not murder.'' There is a difference in killing and murdering. It is possible to kill and not murder. All murder is killing, but not all killing is murder. As you look in the Bible, there are certain types of killing that would not be classified as murder. The killing that the sixth commandment condemns as murder would be as we say; murder in the first degree. It is murder that is premeditated and intentional.

Accidental killing would not be considered murder. Let's say someone is involved in an unavoidable accident, and in the process a life is taken. Someone has been killed, but that killing would not be called murder. We see this illustrated in the cities of refuge. If someone accidentally killed another, they could find refuge from an angry or vengeful foe in one of the cities God specified. In Numbers 35:11, we read, ''That the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares.'' ''Unawares'' means by misadventure or accident.

Capital punishment would not be considered murder. The oldest record of a murder trial dates back nearly 4,000 years. A two by two foot tablet found in Iraq in 1950 describes how three men killed another man. Brought before the king, the three men along with the victims wife were tried for murder. The ...

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