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Murder

MURDER. From the days of Noah the biblical penalty for murder was death; “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed” (Gen.9.6). Throughout the OT times, the ancient Semitic custom of the avenger of blood was followed: a murdered man’s nearest relative (the goel) had the duty to pursue the murderer and kill him (Num.35.19). Since in the practice of avenging blood in this fashion men failed to distinguish between murder and manslaughter, and vicious blood feuds would frequently arise, the Mosaic Law provided for cities of refuge (Num.35.1-Num.35.34). To these cities a person pursued by the avenger of blood could flee. He would be admitted and tried; if judged guilty of murder, he would be turned over to the avenger; if judged innocent, he was afforded protection in this city from the avenger. It appears likely that the advent of the monarchy began a trend away from the ancient goel custom, for we find the king putting a murderer to death (1Kgs.2.34) and pardoning