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If God gave us the commandment "thou shall not kill," why does He give orders for men to go to war throughout the Old Testament and why does He advocate capital punishment? It seems like God is contradicting himself.

Let's review the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" (Ex. 20:13). This verse of Scripture seems to be saying that God is against war or any type of capital punishment.

Let me explain what the original Hebrew text says. The word "kill" is translated from the Hebrew word ratsach. This word is not referring to killing, but instead it always refers to murder.

The definition of this word, according to Wilson's Hebrew Dictionary, is "to slay in a violent or unjust manner." This is why so many translations of the Bible use the English word murder rather than the word kill. The New International Version of the Bible also translates this word as murder and not kill. God is telling us that it's wrong to murder (or kill) someone without just cause.

On the other hand, God is not giving us permission to kill at random. God did have the children of Israel incorporate capital punishment into their society (Lev. 20:2, 27, 24:14-17).

The Bible teaches us that this will keep order in a society. He also gave them orders to go into battles in which people were killed. The people Israel went to war against were always people who had rejected God and His ways. There was always a godly purpose for these battles.

I believe this should help you to see that God isn't contradicting Himself in the Bible.

Copyright © Bible Answers Foundation
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Joseph Cameneti
Web site: Believers Church
Joe Cameneti Sr. is the lead pastor of Believers Church, located in his hometown of Warren, Ohio. Pastor Joe, along with his wife Gina, pioneered Believers Church in 1983 following his graduation from Bible School. In addition to leading a thriving local church, Pastor Joe is the host of a weekly show called "BCTV." The program is aired locally, reaching over 30,000 people each month. Pastor Joe is a gifted communicator, skilled in the art of building bridges to unchurched America. Transparent and authentic, you'll walk away challenged and encouraged to connect with God in a deeper way.

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