Biblical Law: Murderer, Slayer, Revenger.

The act of killing in the bible is not a new concept. However it wasn’t a terribly bad thing in the old Testament as it is in the New Testament. Of course Christ tells us that we can’t kill at all. We’re restricted from even thinking about it. In the old testament the priest, judges and offices regularly thought about killing. Mainly because killing someone was part of their job. They were designated to execute punishments on individuals who broke The Highest God’s law. 

Some Biblical interpretations would call this type of permission to kill contradictory to the law itself when it says “thou shalt not kill”. However, in the eyes of righteousness, types of “killing” in the Old testament were necessary to execute judgment and justice. That being said, thou shalt not kill thy brother (people/person) for envy, hate, or greed. Someone can accidentally kill and get away with it. killing someone by means of executing judgement was perfectly acceptable. Allow me to explain the reasons why the law prohibits killing and the ways it encourages it. In short the Bible has three types of killers; a murderer, a slayer and a revenger of blood.

Thou shalt not kill” Exodus 20:13 kjv. This command is very vague, we should look at other parts of scripture to understand what this law means. Similar statements and commands are found in Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. However Numbers 35 explains detailed rules that describe who gets punished for killing. First the chapter starts off explaining that there should be certain cities set up for the Levites in which can be used as a refuge for multiple people. More specifically they were for someone to flee to if they accidentally killed someone. 

Numbers 35: 15-29

15 These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither.

16 And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.

17 And if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.

18 Or if he smite him with an hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.

19 The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him.

20 But if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die;

21 Or in enmity smite him with his hand, that he die: he that smote him shall surely be put to death; for he is a murderer: the revenger of blood shall slay the murderer, when he meeteth him.

The Murderer.

Examining the scripture for verses 15-21, it explains the character of a type of  killer. A murderer is determined by his intentions upon killing someone. There are words used that we should pay attention to. The text uses the words murder, hatred and enmity. A murderer is someone who kills intentionally. Hatred is a severe dislike of someone. Enmity is being in a state of mind that is actively and severely opposed to someone. Therefore if a person has severe dislike or opposition to someone that causes them to premeditate a kill, this person is a murderer.

This person deserves to be punished by the death penalty of the law. If a person is angry and strikes someone that he dies is also a murderer even if they didn’t necessarily want to kill but wanted to inflict harm. This is similar to your modern law against 1st, 2nd degree, aggravated and felony murder. Except, by modern law, these persons are free to live in a prison. The Highest Gods law would execute those individuals instead.

We could also use Cain and Abel as an example of this. Remember how Cain grew jealous of Abel, and one day he smote his brother out of rage and discovered that he killed Abel. Cain is a murderer because though his intentions was only to inflict harm, his actions resulted in him killing his brother through hatred. Genesis 4: 1-15.

The Slayer: Numbers 35:22-25

22 But if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon him any thing without laying of wait,

23 Or with any stone, wherewith a man may die, seeing him not, and cast it upon him, that he die, and was not his enemy, neither sought his harm:

24 Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments:

25 And the congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the revenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to the city of his refuge, whither he was fled: and he shall abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which was anointed with the holy oil.

Then the chapter continues on to describe an innocent killer, which is called a slayer. Someone who kills another unaware, on accident or without hatred should go free. Unlike the person who killed out of hate (a murderer), the unaware killer had no intentions of killing at all. The act of killing was sudden and unexpected. This individual would be innocent in the eyes of The Highest God. The accidental killer is then sent to a city of refuge for safety from the victims’ revenger of blood. This is also similar to involuntary manslaughter laws today, but these individuals still face imprisonment. The Highest God would have sent them to another city under the guard of an high priest instead. Something we would call a witness protection program.

Justice: Numbers 35:26-29

26 But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled;

27 And the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood:

28 Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession.

29 So these things shall be for a statute of judgment unto you throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

The law of justice for the murderer and the slayer is permissible unto the revenger of blood. The revenger of blood gets to kill the murderer not the priest, judges or officers. Notice how the revenger of blood is not guilty of manslaughter at all. He gets to kill the murderer and the slayer. The Highest God is apparently not angry with persons seeking revenge. There are so many people today that would be walking free right now under The Highest Gods Law about murder vs slayer vs revenger. However, there would be more people dead to that are still alive. This is Biblical justice. It may seem odd to us but it is quite simple and surprisingly peaceful.

Conclusion

Although this law on killing seems good, if practiced wrong it can be dangerous. Say if the authority figures become bias against who can kill over others then some people could lie about what happened, which would create a deadly society. Therefore the ones in authority have to honor their jobs and learn how to judge “righteously”. As we can see today, Christ took the position of authority away from us because Israel perverted these judgements witch were meant to be wonderful. Nonetheless this is the judgement that awaits us on biblical judgement day. We must do self reflection and ask ourselves, am I a murderer, a slayer or a revenger of blood. Either way, we all need to repent.

Not withstanding Christ laid down an even more intense law on killing. Nowadays, we can’t even think about killing, let alone actually doing it under any circumstances. That being said ancient Israel’s laws were easier to live by in some ways compared to modern law and New Testament law.

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