Distinction Between Manslaughter And Murder

The main distinction between murder and manslaughter both in the Bible and law as recognized in our nation today is malice and intent! There are many bleeding hearts who take the statements, "Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13; Matthew 5:21; Romans 13:9), as a blanket condemnation of all killing without any qualifications whatsoever. However, the same law (the Law of Moses) legislated the death penalty for many different sins against God and his fellow men (Deuteronomy13:10; 21:21; 22:24). In the New Testament, since it is notboth a civil and religious covenant as was the Old, Christians are told to submit to whatever civil government they happen to live under (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17). And, in fact, the New Testament does authorize government to practice capital punishment since Paul writes that they "beareth not the sword in vain" (Romans 13:4). On the other hand, the apostle Paul shows the personal responsibility of Christians is to "avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord" (Romans 12:19). In stark contrast to this is the Sharia law of the Muslims. Strict Sharia law dominates every facet of life, and even those things normally kept private, the family itself!

 Quite plainly, the command not to "kill" had to do with murder. God has always held life as something to be valued. Very early in the Book of Genesis God expressed His desire to protect life. Moses recorded by inspiration, "And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I 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" (Genesis 9:5-6). God's concern for life was such that anyone who murdered another was to forfeit his life! An ox that gored a man was to be put to death, and the penalty for not doing this was severe, since if it gored again, not only was the ox to be put to death, but also the owner of the ox, for not destroying the animal in the first place (Exodus 21:27-36).

 Provision was made in Israel with the selection of six "cities of refuge" so that when one was involved in any homicide, the person who killed another could take refuge until the case was adjudicated, and the fault or innocence of that person was determined. Numbers 35 generally shows that when one is involved in an accidental death, or one without malice or premeditation, it was usually considered manslaughter. However, if malice, premeditation, or hatred was involved, then the man who killed another was to be put to death. If a weapon of iron, wood or even a stone is used with the intent to kill, it was adjudged to be murder. Exodus 22:2-3 shows that if one kills a burglar in the process of his home at night, the man who killed him was to be held guiltless. However, if it occurred in the daylight, then the man was to be held accountable. It seems obvious that God held life to be so precious that even the life of an unborn child (Exodus 21:22-23), was protected, and if one injured a pregnant woman so that her baby died, he would pay the penalty! What a stench in the nostrils of God it must be to see the millions of babies put to death "legally" in our nation by abortion as well as the softness of many concerning criminals! God holds all life as precious, and capital punishment is a deterrent. Those who violate His law will pay the price!

 Ed Rodgers, Forney, TX