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Numbers 30: 35.


this case, we would direct attention to the facts; that this is the only case where the word is used in a similar connection; that it is not said here, the avenger of blood shall kill the slayer, as it is repeatedly said above, he shall slay the murderer (where of course a different word is constantly used for his act); nor is it even said, he may kill the slayer; but only, IF he kill the slayer under these circumstances, he shall not be himself punished with death, he shall not be held guilty at law. But that the avenger of blood in such a case was not morally free from guilt is more than hinted at by the word employed. In foro conscientiae he was guilty of murder; he had slain a man whom the magistrates of his country had acquitted of death; he had shed "innocent blood," as plainly appears by a comparison of this passage with Deut. 19: 10. His act, therefore, though not punished legally, is not improperly designated by the same term which technically designates "murder."

The remaining case is the only one in the Bible which, to our apprehension, contains any real difficulty. Let us see how great that is. In the 30th verse of the 35th chapter of Numbers, the phrase, "shall be put to death," is given as the translation of ? in the third person singular of the future active. Now, it is to be observed that, elsewhere in this chapter, the phrase "put to death," constantly corresponds to some form of , to die; and, indeed, with the exception of one other case (Jer. 18: 21 where it is used for ), this phrase is used throughout the whole Bible (how often any English reader can determine) only as the translation of the same Hebrew word n. And, by the way, this is the word which would certainly have been employed in the sixth commandment, had it been the intention of the lawgiver, as alleged, to forbid the simple taking away of life, absolutely, under all circumstances.

In the second place, the original of this verse is very difficult, if not doubtful, so that some critics, Le Clerc for example, have proposed an emendation of the text.

In the third place, the Seventy, apparently aware of the difficulty of the case, have translated the clause, very literally, thus: Πᾶς πατάξας ψυχὴν, διὰ * ςόματος μαρτύρων φονεύσει τὸν φονεύσανza [ed. Breiting. 1730]; of which if any one can make sense, and especially the sense given in our translation, he is welcome.

In the fourth place, without proposing any new rendering, we shall content ourselves with observing that, if the common English translation conveys the true sense, the fact that the same

word, in two forms, stands here for the "murderer," and for the act of "putting him to death," is to be explained as an effect of paronomasia; a figure which, as is well known, plays a great part in Hebrew phraseology.'

Finally, we protest against the criticism which would urge this solitary and difficult, if not doubtful case, to unsettle the primary and proper sense of the word in question, as inferable from its ordinary and almost universal use.

We know it may be plausibly said, and it is all which can be plausibly said, that the word in question is used to express the taking of life excusably, as in the case of the manslayer, as well as maliciously in the case of the murderer; by permission [once only, and hardly by permission then], and by commandment [in one solitary and doubtful instance]. We know that this statement can be plausibly made; but whether it can be intelligently and honestly urged against our position, in the light of the foregoing investigation, we leave our readers to judge.

If any more proofs are needed to confirm our position, they are at hand. We add, then, that if the Hebrew word translated kill, in the sixth commandment, do not mean, by its own proper force, and when not modified by any connection, "to murder," then there is no word in the Hebrew language which has that meaning-nay more, there is no word which comes so near that meaning by many degrees. The word used is by far the strongest and most definite, for such a purpose, which could have been used.

It is true that the excellent and learned author of the Manual of Peace, while he maintains in general that the sixth commandment properly forbids the taking of life, of any life, human or animal, does, a little after, generously admit, that "from the general objects and manner of the communication made at this time, we may infer, [so it seems we may infer something from the general objects and manner of the communication; let us remember that.] that the prohibition relates to the taking of human life and not that of brute animals." So much, then, So much, then, "may" be granted; but that, observe, only on the ground of a faltering inference. So that the right of a Christian to kill a calf rests only on the uncertain basis of an inconclusive inference! Perchance he may thereby violate the sixth commandment! It will not do for him to appeal to the covenant with Noah; in this matter of "killing," we are expressly assured, the sixth commandment " was the beginning

1 We might resort to the future tense, as the abolitionists do when driven to straits, but we will not.


The Hebrew Usage.


of days." The Jews might have been subsequently allowed to kill calves "for the hardness of their hearts!" 1

But, seriously, we think we can show that the term in question is limited in its signification, so as not only to exclude the case of killing calves, but a great many other cases of killing; and show it not on the ground of a begging inference, but on the demonstrative evidence of universal usage.2

It is said that some sects in India hold the precept, "Thou shalt not kill," in a sense so absolute that they think it unlawful to kill vermin, or even seeds to which they ascribe a vital principle.

We may as well say that we have examined with our own eyes all the passages a thousand or thereabout-in the Hebrew, Greek and English Bibles, in which "killing" is referred to in any form. This we have been obliged to do without the aid of a Hebrew concordance, by the help of Trommius and Cruden. From the mass of our results we give below what seem to us the most important additional facts and references.

As above stated, the phrase "put to death" in the English Bible, always stands for some form of , except in Jer. 18: 21 and Num. 35: 30. "Smile" in the English Bible always stands for 2, except in Ex. 12: 23 and 21:22; Num. 24: 17; Dan. 2: 34 and 5: 6. Remarkable are Ex. 21: 12 and Josh. 20: 5, where "smite" implies murder,

"Cut off" corresponds constantly to the Hebrew na.


Kill,” “slay,” “murder" correspond to various Hebrew words as follows: The usage of this word has been fully presented above.

This, next to , is the strongest and most definite word, according to the usage of the Hebrew Bible, to express the idea of "murder." It occurs about 173 times, and is translated, once by "put to death," Jer. 18: 21; three times by "murder," Ps. 10: 8, Hos. 9: 13 and Jer. 4: 31; once by "destroyed," Ps. 78: 47; once by "slayer," Ez. 21: 16 (11); nine times by "slaughter;" twenty-seven times by "kill;" and 131 times by "slay." The Seventy translate it 109 times by άжоктείvw, twenty-one times by ȧжокEVTEW, and the remaining times by various other words.

This verb frequently signifies to “kill” or “murder," in the same sense with n; it is used for the act of Cain, for example; the latter verb occurring, for the first time, in the sixth commandment;] but one of its most ordinary uses is to signify slaying enemies in battle. It is employed also in a variety of other connections. Three times it has an animal for subject, 2 Kings 17: 25, Job 20: 16 and Is. 14, 30; seven times it has an animal for object, Lev. 20: 15 and 16, Num. 22: 29, Is. 22: 13 and 27: 1, and Zech. 11: 4 and 7; twice it has an inanimate subject, Job 5: 2 and Prov. 1: 32; once it has an inanimate object, Ps. 78: 47 [tr. "destroyed "]; seven times it is used for killing by commandment from God, Num. 31: 17 (twice) and 19, Deut. 13: 9, Ex. 32: 27, Num. 25: 5, Ez. 9: 6; and twenty times it has God himself for subject, Gen. 20: 4, Ex. 4: 23, 13: 15, 22: 23 (24) and 32: 12, Num. 11: 15 and 22: 23 [the angel of the Lord], Ps. 59: 11, 78: 31, 34 and 47, 135: 10 and 136: 18, Amos 2: 3, 4: 10 and 9: 1, Hos. 6: 5, Lam. 2: 4 and 21 and 3: 43. Here are about forty cases cut of the whole 173, besides that very numerous class in which it refers to killing ene

The killing of brute animals is spoken of in the Hebrew Bible more than three hundred times; but n is NEVER thus used;

mies in battle. Surely, therefore, it cannot be compared with , for the strength and definiteness with which it may denote "murder." We may add that it is never substituted for the latter verb in any repetitions or quotations of the sixth commandment.

This verb might be supposed to rank next. It is, however, either in its Hebrew or Chaldaic form, used but ten times in the Bible. Once it is translated "kill," Job 24: 14; and nine times "slay," "slain" or "slaughter," Job 13: 15, Ps. 139: 19, Obad. 9, and six times in Daniel.

It has God for its subject twice, Job. 13: 15 and Ps. 139: 19; an inanimate thing for its subject once, Dan. 3: 22; and an animal for its object once, Dan. 7:11. In four cases out of the ten, therefore, it cannot mean "murder."

We may remark incidentally that the fact of this word's being used twice in the book of Job, while it occurs so seldom in the Hebrew Scriptures, and elsewhere exclusively in the later writers, and is so very frequent in the Targums, may be added to the other evidence collected by Vaihinger to show the later origin of the book in question.

is translated into English by "smite," times unnumbered; and always means "smite," with such modifications as the connection would show, with the English as well as the Hebrew word. It is translated, however, once by "murderers," 2 Kings 14: 6; once by "slayer," Num. 35: 24; sixteen times by "kill," (sometimes, as in Lev. 24: 17, 18 and 21, signifying to kill man or beast, but always when connected with E, as it is four or five times, it signifies to kill man,) seventy-nine times by "slay;" and eighteen times by slaughter. N. B. While it is translated "slew" in Ex. 2: 12, the same word is rendered "smiting" in verse 11th; from which it would seem that Moses may not have been so much a "murderer" as some have been willing to suppose (See N. Am. Rev. Vol. 62, p. 46); but rather an avenger of the death of his brother Hebrew; not to appeal to his probable consciousness of a divine mission; see Acts 7: 24 and 25.

na, while, with its derivative forms, it is translated into English by “die” and "put to death" times without number, is also rendered thirty-three times by "kill" and ninety-one times by "slay."

na and are used about 230 times. Among these our translators have rendered it by "kill," "slay" and "slaughter" thirty-eight times; and in the remaining cases they have rendered it by "sacrifice," "offer," and their derivatives or equivalent words. Of the thirty-eight times, it is translated by "kill," (of animals, not for sacrifice,) seven, or perhaps nine times, Ex. 22: 1, Prov. 9: 2, Gen. 43: 16. 2 Chron. 18: 2, 1 Sam. 25: 11 and 28: 24, Ezek. 34: 3, and perhaps Deut 12: 15 and 21; by "slay," (of animals, not for sacrifice,) four times, Deut. 28: 31 and 1 Kings 1: 9, 19 and 25; by "slaughter," (of animals, not for sacrifice,) ten times, Ps. 44: 22, Prov. 7: 22, Isa. 53: 7, Jer. 11:19 and 12: 3 [a is used for "slaughter" the second time in this verse] Jer. 25: 34, and 50: 27 and 51: 40, Ezek. 9: 2 (?) and Isa. 34: 6 (?); by “kill," (of men, not in sacrifice,) once, Lam. 2: 21 [where God is the subject]; by "slay," (of men, not in sacrifice,) once, Ps. 37: 14; by "slay," (of men, in sacrifice,) five or six times, 2 Kings 23: 20, 1 Kings 13: 2, Ps. 105: 35 and 36, Ezek. 16: 20 and probably Isa. 66: 3; by" slaughter," (of men, not expressly in sacrifice,) seven times, Isa.


The Hebrew Usage.


animals are not murdered. Animals and inanimate things are sometimes said to kill; but ng is NEVER thus used; they do not murder. In hundreds of instances God commands to kill, smite, slay, put to death; but is NEVER thus used [except that single doubtful case already considered]; God does not command to murder. In a great variety of cases, God or an angel are said to kill, slay, smite, cut off, etc.; but is NEVER thus used; God and angels do not murder. Times without number the Bible speaks of killing enemies in battle; but ng is NEVER thus used. Is the killing of enemies in battle then to be called murder?11 The same cannot be said of any other word meaning to take life 14:21 and 34: 2 and 65: 12, Jer. 48: 15 and Ezek. 21: 15, 20 and 33 (Eng. verses 10, 15 and 28).

, with its derivatives, is used about eighty-five times. Our translators have rendered it three times by "beaten" (with gold) 2 Chron. 19: 15 and 16; once by "shot out" (with arrow) Jer. 9: 8; once by "slaughter" Hosea 5: 2; twice by "offer," forty-two times by "kill," and thirty-six times by "slay." Of the last eighty cases, in sixty it means to kill or slay animals for the passover or for sacrifice; in four or five cases it means to kill animals to eat, Gen. 37: 31, 1 Sam. 14: 32 and 34 (twice), Num. 11: 22, and perhaps Isa. 22: 13; in four, it means to kill human beings for sacrifice, Gen. 22: 10 [Abraham and Isaac], Isa. 57: 5, Ezek. 16: 21 and 23: 39; and in eleven cases it means simply to kill human beings, 1 Kings 18: 40, 2 Kings 25: 7 and 10: 7 and 14, Num. 14: 6, Jer. 39: 61 (twice) and 41: 7 and 52: 10 (twice); though in all these last cases its true meaning would be more exactly expressed by retaining the figure of the original and translating by slaughter or immolate.

In Lev. 17:3 we have supposed the meaning of this verb to be to kill animals for sacrifice; although Michaelis (Mos. Recht. Art. 169) thinks it means here to slaughter in general, without any reference to sacrifice. But surely the former is the prevailing sense of the verb, and it seems to us supported rather than opposed by the context. It is very instructive to compare this passage with Isa. 66: 3 and the context of the latter passage with Isa. 57: 15.

There is but one other Hebrew word which deserves to be noticed in this connection. That is:

with the adj. b, which very frequently is used in the sense of "wounded;" and in the sense of "slay," "slain," (chiefly of enemies in battle,) some seventy times.

From all the above facts we think it abundantly evident that there is no other Hebrew word which, according to the usus loquendi of the Hebrew Bible, could, by its own proper force, signify so definitely and unequivocally, to MURDER, TO KILL HUMAN BEINGS WITHOUT LEGAL AUTHORITY, as the verb ng which is actually used to express the prohibition in the sixth commandment.

1 This last class of cases we commend to the special attention of the author of the Manual of Peace, as having a bearing upon his main subject in connection with which he often quotes this very sixth commandment as decisive authority.

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