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(meratstseach, from ratsach (Nu 35:6,12); androphonos (1Ti 1:9)): A term employed with reference to both premeditated and accidental or justifiable killing. In the latter case, an asylum was granted (Nu 35:6,12) until the death of the high priest, after which the slayer was allowed to "return into the land of his possession" (Nu 35:28). The cases in which the manslayer was to be held clearly immune from the punishment imposed on willful killing were:

(1) death by a blow in a sudden quarrel (Nu 35:22);

(2) death by anything thrown at random (Nu 35:22,23);

(3) death by the blade of an axe flying from the handle (De 19:5).

Among the cases in which one would be held responsible for the death of another, is to be counted the neglectful act of building a house without a parapet (De 22:8).

Manslaughter, as a modern legal term, is employed to distinguish unpremeditated killing from coldblooded murder, but formerly (2 Esdras 1:26) it was used in a more general sense.

See Murder.

Frank E. Hirsch

See also

  • Crimes and Punishments