There are two Old Testament commands that seem redundant to me:

Exodus 20:13 ESV - You shall not murder.

Exodus 21:12 ESV - Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death.

I know contextually these are not identical as the first is more of an overview of right and wrong and second expands on the various causes and consequences, but it seems that the first command is made redundant by the more comprehensive second. Is there more difference to it?

  • 4
    The latter seems to be a judicial, temporal punishment for said crime, rather than a maxim of morality in general. Jun 25, 2018 at 15:54
  • @SolaGratia, same as for many (if not all) of the Ten Commandments, which are all repeated in similar fashion.
    – user22655
    Jun 26, 2018 at 2:19
  • The first is God's expression of absolute right and wrong. The second is God's instruction as to how men should govern society and how men should protect society from murderers.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 26, 2018 at 4:23
  • The second is a formula of acts that if someone make them he shuld die. This way God "clean" the society from unjustice.
    – A. Meshu
    Jun 26, 2018 at 16:36

2 Answers 2


Seems like the second is the response of the people should someone break the commandment (murder) in the ten commandments. Might have been written 'should someone break the law 'do not murder' his punishment shall be death.

Also as an aside it might be possible that murder is distinction from striking someone who then dies? The second maybe holds even in the even of an unintentional death?


There are two verbs in Hebrew, which pass the sense of withdrawing human life. The first is the verb לַהֲרוֹג "laharog", which means "to kill," but in a generic way. The second verb is the term לִרְצוֹחַ "lirtzoach", which means "to murder".

In Exodus 20:13, the Lord used the terms לֹא תִרְצָח "lô tirtzach" which means, "You shall not murder".

It is a prohibition against revenge, and against uncontrolled envy and hatred.

Source: https://brasilgospel.club/antigo/exodo/nao-mataras-biblia-mandamento-em-hebraico/

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