I'm curious with the fact that the sixth commandment says, that one can't kill the other, this is (Exodus 20:13):

13 “You shall not murder.

However, in the bible, there are many moments where this is permitted, as it seems to me, as in Exodus 21:12, 22:19,Leviticus 20:10. And it's in the New Testment (Romans 6:23):

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I know that death penalty in some cases can be permitted in Torah and also others that can't, as Jesus was in John 8:1-11 trying to balance the situation between those that want to stone a woman but they have also many sins. So the question is: how to judge correctly (which parameters) if a case deserves death penalty and those that don't?

obs.: this question differs from others because I want to know if death penalty in the Torah can be applied under certain circumstances (which) and not just about being intentional or not murder.

In addition, I'd also like some examples in the Torah where this is permitted and where this is not.

  • Murder is not equivalent to kill, and executions demanded by the law are obviously excluded.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 11, 2021 at 1:40
  • 1
    Does this answer your question: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/77/…
    – Perry Webb
    Nov 11, 2021 at 2:12
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Is "kill" a valid translation for Exodus 20:13 (Thou shalt not kill)?
    – Nigel J
    Nov 11, 2021 at 6:31
  • Your last paragraph answers your own question : and then asks another question on that basis - 'So the question is how to judge correctly.' (Which may be off-topic.)
    – Nigel J
    Nov 11, 2021 at 6:33
  • 1
    Romans 6:23 is entirely irrelevant.. it has absolutely nothing to do with the death penalty. It is merely saying the consequence of sin is spiritual death, physical death, and the second death. Nov 11, 2021 at 14:52

2 Answers 2


In understanding this important legal principle, we must recall that the Hebrew verbs are quite different:

  • In Ex 20:13 we have רָצַח (ratsach) is an illegal killing, ie, murder.
  • In Ex 21:12, 22:19, Lev 20:10, we have מוּת (muth), ie, a killing of any description.

Note that the 6th commandment does NOT outlaw killing generally, else no army could go to war. It simply outlaws illegal killing, ie, murder.

[NOTE: The same is true in modern society where murder is illegal but killing more generally is possible where it is legally sanctioned, and only under state authority.]

Thus, the 6th commandment actually says, "You shall not murder", as per NIV, NLT, ESV, BSB, NKJV, NASB, CSB, HCSB, CEV, ERV, GNT, GWT, ISV, JPS, NET, WEB, etc. [The KJV is not helpful here.]

The Amplified Bible correctly gives this:

“You shall not commit murder (unjustified, deliberate homicide).

Thus, there is no conflict between Ex 20:13 and Ex 21:12, 22:19, Lev 20:10.


I’m not sure which ‘lens’ you are wearing with this observation. Nevertheless, the ‘view’ needs to be kept in the correct perspective - so let’s analyse this perspective.

The ‘Death Penalty’ verses you quoted, all of them, are all related to the Law. There was only one penalty for ‘breaking’ the Law - death. The ‘wages’ of ‘sin’, when judged by the Law, is death (of the flesh).

This is not murder. This is what was ‘due’ - if judged! The Israelites had put themselves under the Law - and therefore were subject to it.

The incident in John 8 is exactly the same scenario. That Lady was being judged under the Law. The ‘judges’ were the Pharisees, acting on behalf of their father. And,note that Jesus did not argue the judgement! (He could not, because He was under that same Law).

So what is murder? Murder is when you unjustifiably take a man’s life. Where as that penalty of ‘death’ under the Law is justified! Huge difference!

  • But in the ten commandments it states "Thou shall not kill" how can this be possible Dave, I didn't comprehend very well. Nov 11, 2021 at 10:24
  • 1
    @JoãoVíctorMelo I’m a little surprised that you don’t understand? That commandment (Exodus 20:23 - ‘rāṣaḥ’), needs to be understood Hebraically. The clear ‘intent/meaning’ implied here is unlawful killing. It all comes down to ‘the Law’ (Torah).
    – Dave
    Nov 11, 2021 at 19:20
  • 1
    @JoãoVíctorMelo Even in your question you quote the command properly: "You shall not murder." Why do you misstate it here?
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 11, 2021 at 22:40

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.