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English Bible Dictionary

Murder

 

The law of Moses, while it protected the accidental homicide, defined with additional strictness the crime of murder. It prohibited compensation or reprieve of the murderer, or his protection if he took refuge in the refuge city, or even at the altar of Jehovah. (Exodus 21:12,14; Leviticus 24:17,21; 1 Kings 2:5,6,31) The duty of executing punishment on the murderer is in the law expressly laid on the "revenger of blood;" but the question of guilt was to be previously decided by the Levitical tribunal. In regal times the duty of execution of justice on a murderer seems to have been assumed to some extent by the sovereign, as was also the privilege of pardon. (2 Samuel 13:39; 14:7,11; 1 Kings 2:34) It was lawful to kill a burglar taken at night in the act, but unlawful to do so after sunrise. (Exodus 22:2,3)

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