There is a difference between killing and murder in the eyes of God.
There has been an increase in violent attacks against Jews in the United States. I have read articles and blogs of Jewish people asking themselves what they should do. There is a very real fear that exists with many, but they need only to read the Tanakh to discover the answers to their questions can be found within the pages.
God has given human beings numerous gifts; from the unique abilities we all have, to the most important gift of all. Our vary lives are a gift from God and He expects us to value our lives every bit as much as He does. We are not just to value our own lives, but the lives of other people.
Both the Noahide Laws and Mosaic Laws include a prohibition against murder. All human beings are commanded by God not to murder their fellow human beings. In both sets of Laws humans and animals are treated differently, and only humans can commit murder when another human’s life is taken.
According to Merriam-Webster, murder has three definitions, the first of which is regarding criminal action. It is the crime of unlawfully killing a person with malice aforethought. Aforethought means premeditated, or deliberate.
Everything else is an act of killing, from military action to hunting. God does not prohibit killing, but He does prohibit murder. Since God is very aware of our shortcomings, He is also aware that there will always be people who do commit the act of murder. This is the reason God allows the taking of human life in self-defense.
Self-defense is clearly allowed throughout the Tanakh, but nowhere is it clearer than with Queen Esther. After Haman convinces King Xerxes to kill all the Jews in his kingdom, regardless of age and sex, God worked through Queen Esther and the command was given for all the Jews to defend themselves.
According to the account, when those who were intent on murdering every Jew, as had been ordered by King Xerxes, they found them to be far from easy victims. The Jews, also in accordance with the King’s command, defended themselves and killed tens of thousands of their enemy, including all ten of Haman’s sons.
God did not punish the Jews for killing in battle, since they were not committing the act of murder. They had become soldiers and did what soldiers have always done. The side of Haman was not the side of God, which is why the victory was overwhelmingly in favor of the Jews.
This is a brief summation of the account and for those who have never read the book of Esther, are missing out on an intriguing tale. Jews and Gentiles alike can get a much better understanding of the difference between murder and self-defense. It is intriguing for many other reasons, but this blog has a narrow focus and geared towards one theme.
If it is a prohibition against murder, rather than killing, how has it gotten to a state of so much misunderstanding? When the Tanakh was translated, much of the meaning was lost. Do not murder became do not kill, which means it lost the intent of the words given by God.
Had the Roman Catholic Church not been so hateful of Jews, which is what they had become, they could have asked any number of Rabbis the best way to properly translate Hebrew. It never happened and much of the intent remains lost today, since Roman Catholics rarely asked Rabbis anything at the time not involving torture, forced conversions and all the other horrors which took place.
Even today, with all the resources at our disposal, there remains an unwillingness to ask and learn the meaning of the Tanakh. For Christians, understanding Judaism should be an important goal, since Rabbi Yeshua was a Jew and lived as a Jew. There are some who do seek a greater understanding, but most are content with believing what Rome translated long ago.
When Christians ask questions, it should be directed from a place of understanding a Jewish Rabbi will not believe Rabbi Yeshua was Messiah, nor should any Christian expect a Rabbi to do anything of the sort. It should be done for no other reason than understanding the root of Christianity is Judaism.
Through knowledge gained, more than just an understanding of the prohibition against murder, not killing, can be found. A mutual respect between the two can be achieved. Only through mutual respect can deep conversations arise.