Exodus 20.13 and Deuteronomy 5.17, NRSV, say "You shall not murder," with a footnote mentioning "kill" as a substitute for "murder." Exodus 20.13 and Deuteronomy 5.17, NIV, say "You shall not murder," without any footnote giving "kill" as an alternative for "murder." What does the original text say about murder versus killing? Biblically speaking, is it correct to define killing as taking life, and murder as illegal killing? -- Vincent Subramaniam (Washington DC)

The original text has the word ratsach, which means to murder. Harag is one word meaning kill. So there is linguistic support for the distinction. In this case, murder is in view. Under the OT law, not all killing was considered murder. Under the NT, we are not allowed to kill at all--not even to hate (Matthew 5).

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