The Sixth Commandment – Murder: A Matter of the Heart

This study touches on subjects that have been gone over in detail in previous studies. Before going over this study, please make sure you have a complete understanding of the the study on The Third Commandment – Bearing God’s Name.


The sixth commandment is fairly simple and straight forward. The King James Version states the commandment in this way:

“Thou shall not kill.”     Exodus 12:13

However, the English Standard Version says:

“You shall not murder.”

The meaning of this commandment can be easily found in scripture immediately following the giving of the ten commandments. It is at this point that YHVH defines murder as something that is premeditated.

sixth commandment“Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death. But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place to which he may flee. But if a man willfully attacks another to kill him by cunning, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.”   Exodus 21:12-14

“But if anyone hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him and attacks him and strikes him fatally so that he dies, and he flees into one of these cities, then the elders of his city shall send and take him from there, and hand him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may die. Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, so that it may be well with you.”     Deuteronomy 19:11-13

In Deuteronomy, we see murder comes out of hatred or vengeance. This is also supported throughout the rest of the Bible.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”     Romans 12:19

Do not say, “I will repay evil”;
wait for YHVH, and he will deliver you.     Proverbs 20:22

Although YHVH requires life for a life, He makes room for absolute mistakes, self-defense, and the protection of another life.

“This is the provision for the manslayer, who by fleeing there may save his life. If anyone kills his neighbor unintentionally without having hated him in the past— as when someone goes into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down a tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies—he may flee to one of these cities and live, lest the avenger of blood in hot anger pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and strike him fatally, though the man did not deserve to die, since he had not hated his neighbor in the past.”     Deuteronomy 19:4-6

If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him     Exodus 22:2

This commandment against murder supports a common thread that runs throughout the ten commandments regarding man being made in the image of YHVH. His intention is for us to become the very image or representation of who He is. He holds human life very dear. He is not a murderer. It is for this reason that he requires a life for a life – so that the issue is that important to us. As representatives of YHVH, we are to be like Him in not only what we do, but in our very hearts.

And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.
“Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.     Genesis 9:5-6

Not only does the action of murder take YHVH’s name in vain by misrepresenting Him, but if the person that dies is in covenant with YHVH, the murderer could be taking the life somebody that is a bearer of His image.

This commandment, like all of the others, begins with the heart. The verdict of murder is determined by the motive, or the heart. If it comes from revenge, hate, jealousy, or selfishness of any kind, it is murder.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable ato judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.”     Matthew 5:21-22a

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