What does THOU SHALT NOT KILL mean?
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Question: What does "thou shalt not kill" MEAN in the Ten Commandments?
Answer: The commandment in question is restated in Deuteronomy 5:17, which also states (in the King James Version Bible) - "Thou shalt not kill." The meaning of this verse becomes a little clearer when we read other Bible translations, which have instead "You shall not murder." Jesus, in his well-known message called the Sermon on the Mount, repeated the commandment when he taught: "Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment" (Matthew 5:21).
Murder is the unlawful taking of a human life. According to the Bible not all killing is murder. God allowed the Israelites, under the Old Covenant, to kill other humans under very special circumstances (Numbers 35:16-19). The command forbidding murder applies to human beings only. Although God gave animals to us for our use (Genesis 1:26-30; 9:1-4) we should not mistreat them or take for granted the environment (Genesis 2:15; Deuteronomy 22:6-7; 25:4; Proverbs 12:10). God also allowed the Israelites to engage in warfare and even gave them instructions about waging war (Deuteronomy 20:1-20). God also recognized that humans might accidentally kill other humans and therefore made provisions for this (Numbers 35:9-34; Deuteronomy 19:1-13).
The primary reason God hates murder is that out of all creation, only human are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27; 9:4-6). Even before the codification of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai the murder of other human beings was wrong (Genesis 4:8-12; 4:23-24; 9:4-6; Exodus 1:16-17). While on earth, Jesus spoke out against murder (Matthew 5:21-26; Mark 10:17-19). We also see in the writings of Paul the same teaching.
"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," . . . and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." " (Romans 13:8-9, see also Romans 1:18, 29-32; Galatians 5:19-21)