In this episode we consider the sixth commandment: “You shall not murder.” You may have learned this commandment a little differently. Some translations, e.g., the Authorized or King James Version (1611) translate Exodus 20:13 as, “You shall not kill.” The Hebrew verb here refers, however, to manslaughter or murder. It’s used 11 times in Numbers 35 in those senses. It doesn’t refer to all taking of human life. I understand that the equivocal translation “you shall not kill” is a little confusing but I confess that I’ve long been puzzled why people would think that “you shall not kill” would be absolute. The very same Torah teaches that sometimes, in some cases, that some people are to be put to death. The law however does prohibit murder and suicide. In this way it challenges the late-modern self, the assertion of radical autonomy relative to all other authorities. We do have a relative autonomy but we do not have absolute autonomy. We are creatures and image bearers. We have, therefore, a special obligation to preserve human life (both born and unborn) which duty puts us at odds with a culture that glorifies death.
Here’s episode 86:
The series on the moral law begins with episode 77.
Here are all the episodes.
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