Really should call this post “words really do have meanings but not all words mean the same thing”.
This is the second part — looking at the actual words used in the scriptures
When I was younger, I did not put much thought into my safety. Oh sure, I locked my doors, tried to live in the good neighborhoods, didn’t troll the bars (too much), didn’t do drugs, etc; but all in all, I wasn’t greatly concerned about my physical or fiscal safety.
Part, the large part, of that was because I was young and unattached. If something happened to me very few people would have been impacted.
When I getting serious She Who Lets Me Make Her Coffee Every Morning, I started to revisit my views and beliefs on self defense. 9/11/2001 added to that emphasis.
Part of my study on self defense was to determine what the Lord, through the Bible, said about violence and/or self defense.
The logical starting place was the 6th Commandment — Thou Shall Not Kill — or was it really Thou Shall Not Murder. (Exodus 20:13)
It makes a difference. For some time I had been aware of the ‘controversy’ of the King James Version (KJV) translation.
Primarily, the language used to write the KJV was already archaic to begin with,it was based on previous translations, primarily the Tyndale’s Translation which was 150 years old at the time and the Bishop’s Bible which was read in Church.
INSTRUCTIONS TO THE TRANSLATORS.
- The ordinary Bible read in the Church, commonly called the Bishops’ Bible, to be followed, and as little altered as the original will permit.
- The old ecclesiastical words to be kept, as the word church, not to be translated congregation.
- When any word hath divers significations, that to be kept which hath been most commonly used by the most eminent fathers, being agreeable to the propriety of the place and the analogies of faith.
- These translations to be used, when they agree better with the text than the Bishops’ Bible: Tyndale’s, Coverdale’s, Matthew’s [Rogers'], Whitchurch’s [Cranmer's], Geneva.”
- By a later rule, “three or four of the most ancient and grave divines, in either of the universities, not employed in translating, to be assigned to be overseers of the translation, for the better observation of the fourth rule.”
Next, The translators were also hampered by the King’s instructions as you can see above. (See the link for the full list of instructions.
And lastly, the Church itself had always resisted having the Bible translated out of Latin. Guess when the people can read for themselves, they aren’t as dependent on the hierarchy of the church.
When later translators started over, they weren’t under such restrictions. Read the front of each Bible usually they will state their goals and methodology used in that translation. Some go for the exact word for word translation, others for an exact meaning of the sentence, and still others will try for context.
I could go on for two or three posts about Bible translations but let’s cut to the chase. Did the 6th Commandment really say “Thou Shall Not Kill” in which case the basis for self defense would be very weak?
The answer it turns out was not really.
You shall not murder.
Exodus 20:13 — “רצח” or râtsach — to dash to pieces
The word used in the original Hebrew was “רצח” or râtsach — most often used to denote murder — a deliberate and intentional act of wrongful killing.
How do we know this?
Because it wasn’t used consistently through out the Bible when God talked about killing.
Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death.
Exodus 21:12 — “נכה ” or nâkâh — to smite
“מוּת” or mûth — to die
Who strikes a man — a deliberate action – calls for the criminal to be put to death.
On the other hand, God recognizes the difference in accidental manslaughter in the next verse.
However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate.
Exodus 21:13 — “צדה ” or tsâdâh – destroy, hunt, lie in wait
The Hebrew language uses a prefix/suffix denote “does not” as in does not lie in wait.
How do we know this, again we turn to the next scripture
But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death.
Exodus 21:14 –“הרג ” or hârag – to kill, slay
In the following verses, God requires anyone who strikes their mother or father to be put to death, anyone who kidnaps another person to be put to death.
It is clear to me that God not only approves of certain killings but requires them. It is also very clear to me that God does not see all Killing as equal.
So to recap; in part 1 I showed it does not logically follow that God says not to kill.
Here I believe I’ve shown that the language does not support the contention the 6th Commandment should be translated as “Thou Shall Not Kill.
Please join the discussion.