Why did God give the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" and yet He himself ordered His servants to kill and commended them for it? Is this not an obvious contradiction?


To start with, the Hebrew word used in Exodus 20:13, is the word "ratsach" which means to "dash in pieces, kill a human being, specifically to murder them."  So a better translation would be "You shall not murder."  Murder carries a different connotation than killing.  A police officer, a soldier in war, and a person defending themselves or defending the life of another, have a God given right to kill the attacker.  However, no one has a right to kill anyone just because they don't like them--for whatever reason--this would be murder, and this is what is prohibited.

God, because He is the Sovereign God of the Universe, and the Creator of every man, woman and child, has the right to create us and the absolute right to terminate our earthly life--to kill us. In fact, the Bible says, "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."  [Psalm 139:16].  This tell us that before we were born, God had already determined the date of our birth, and the exact day and hour of our death.

Each year, in the world, there are approximately 51 million deaths.  And each one of those deaths are commanded by God.  In essence, God kills each one of those 51 million.  The Bible tells us that He simply says, "Return to dust, O sons of men."  [Psalm 90:3].  Now God uses "means" to accomplish His command to "return to dust."  For some He uses accidents (car, airplane, ship, etc.); for some he uses various diseases (cancer, heart attacks, etc.); and for others he will use wars (bullets and explosions).  He even uses the wickedness of man to accomplish His will, by using those bent on murder to accomplish God's planned death for an individual.

There are no accidents or surprises for God, for He knows all things and controls all things.  There are absolutely no such things as "luck" or "chance"--everything is under the control of God.  When EgyptAir 990 went into the death dive over the Atlantic, it was God who ordained that it would, and all attempts to recover the aircraft would have been to no avail, for God had ordained that it would crash and kill all those that "He" ensured would be on that flight.  If further investigation will prove that it was a suicide by a pilot, then that sin was simply used by God to accomplish His will.

We also see God's sovereignty over death when He order the Israelites, on many occasions, to go into a city or land and to destroy every man woman and child.  It may seem cruel, but God has the right to kill every one on earth  for we have all sinned and all deserve death.  Often, a city or a nation have become a cancer in society, being corruptive with their great wickedness, and God simply uses another people to come and destroy the people of wickedness.

One last thought, to kill someone is not to take them out of existence, but simply change their state of existence.  God therefore, within his sovereign right can change a wicked person from being a human on earth, to being a suffering sinner in the agonies of Hell.  Likewise, God can, at any time He wishes, take a Christian that is living on the earth, and bring them home to this celestial city.

So, only God has the right to give and take life, except in those specific cases where he has given man the right to take life, as punishment from God for their wickedness, "For he (the policeman, soldier) does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer."  [Romans 13:4]

To take a life in anger, without the right to do so from God is murder, and a direct violation of His command.

Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Tony Capoccia's Questions and Answers" by:

Tony Capoccia
Bible Bulletin Board
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