1

Whenever a person kills a colleague with his hands - e.g., he strikes him with a sword or with a stone that can cause death, strangles him until he dies or burns him in fire - he should be executed by the court, for he himself has killed him.

א

כָּל הַהוֹרֵג חֲבֵרוֹ בְּיָדוֹ כְּגוֹן שֶׁהִכָּהוּ בְּסַיִף אוֹ בְּאֶבֶן הַמְּמִיתָה. אוֹ שֶׁחֲנָקוֹ עַד שֶׁמֵּת. אוֹ שְׂרָפוֹ בְּאֵשׁ. הוֹאִיל וַהֲרָגוֹ מִכָּל מָקוֹם הוּא בְּעַצְמוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה נֶהֱרָג בְּבֵית דִּין:

2

But a person who hires a murderer to kill a colleague, one who sends his servants and they kill him, one who binds a colleague and leaves him before a lion or the like and the beast kills him, and a person who commits suicide are all considered to be shedders of blood; the sin of bloodshed is upon their hands, and they are liable for death at the hands of God. They are not, however, liable for execution by the court.

ב

אֲבָל הַשּׂוֹכֵר הוֹרֵג לַהֲרֹג אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ שֶׁשָּׁלַח עֲבָדָיו וַהֲרָגוּהוּ. אוֹ שֶׁכְּפָתוֹ וְהִנִּיחוֹ לִפְנֵי הָאֲרִי וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ וַהֲרָגַתְהוּ חַיָּה. וְכֵן הַהוֹרֵג אֶת עַצְמוֹ. כָּל אֶחָד מֵאֵלּוּ שׁוֹפֵךְ דָּמִים הוּא. וַעֲוֹן הֲרִיגָה בְּיָדוֹ וְחַיָּב מִיתָה לַשָּׁמַיִם. וְאֵין בָּהֶן מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין:

3

Which source indicates that this is the law? Genesis 9:6 states: "When a person sheds the blood of a man, by a man his blood shall be shed." This refers to a person who kills a colleague by himself, without employing an agent.

The verse continues: "Of the blood of your own lives I will demand an account." This refers to a person who commits suicide.6

"From the hand of every wild beast will I demand an account" Ibid. 9:5 This refers to a person who places a person before a wild beast so that he will devour him.

"From the hand of a man, from the hand of one's brother, will I demand an account for the soul of a man" ibid.. This refers to a person who hires others to kill a colleague. In all of the three last instances, the verse uses the expression "will I demand an account," indicating that their judgment is in heaven's hands.

ג

וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁכֵּן הוּא הַדִּין. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית ט ו) "שֹׁפֵךְ דַּם הָאָדָם בָּאָדָם דָּמוֹ יִשָּׁפֵךְ" זֶה הַהוֹרֵג בְּעַצְמוֹ שֶׁלֹּא עַל יְדֵי שָׁלִיחַ. (בראשית ט ה) "אֶת דִּמְכֶם לְנַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם אֶדְרשׁ" זֶה הוֹרֵג עַצְמוֹ. (בראשית ט ה) "מִיַּד כָּל חַיָּה אֶדְרְשֶׁנּוּ" זֶה הַמּוֹסֵר חֲבֵרוֹ לִפְנֵי חַיָּה לְטָרְפוֹ. (בראשית ט ה) "מִיַּד הָאָדָם מִיַּד אִישׁ אָחִיו אֶדְרשׁ אֶת נֶפֶשׁ הָאָדָם" זֶה הַשּׂוֹכֵר אֲחֵרִים לַהֲרֹג אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ. וּבְפֵרוּשׁ נֶאֱמַר בִּשְׁלָשְׁתָּן לְשׁוֹן דְּרִישָׁה הֲרֵי דִּינָם מָסוּר לַשָּׁמַיִם:

4

When a Jewish king desires to slay any of these murderers and the like - who are not liable for execution by the court - by virtue of his regal authority, in order to perfect society, he has the license.

Similarly, if the court desires to execute them as a result of a immediate fiat, because this was required at the time, they have the license to do as they see fit.

ד

וְכָל אֵלּוּ הָרַצְחָנִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן שֶׁאֵינָן מְחֻיָּבִין מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין. אִם רָצָה מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל לְהָרְגָם בְּדִין הַמַּלְכוּת וְתַקָּנַת הָעוֹלָם הָרְשׁוּת בְּיָדוֹ. וְכֵן אִם רָאוּ בֵּית דִּין לְהָרְגָם בְּהוֹרָאַת שָׁעָה אִם הָיְתָה הַשָּׁעָה צְרִיכָה לְכָךְ יֵשׁ לָהֶם רְשׁוּת כְּפִי מַה שֶּׁיִּרְאוּ:

5

If the king did not execute them, nor did the court deem the time as such to require strengthening the strictures against murder, it should nevertheless have the murderer beaten with severe blows - so that he is on the verge of death - and imprisoned, deprived and afflicted with all types of discomfort in order to strike fear and awe into the hearts of other wicked men, so that this death should not be a stumbling block and a snag for them, causing them to say: "Let me arrange to have my enemies killed the way so-and-so did, and I will not suffer the consequences."

ה

הֲרֵי שֶׁלֹּא הֲרָגָם הַמֶּלֶךְ וְלֹא הָיְתָה הַשָּׁעָה צְרִיכָה לְכָךְ לְחַזֵּק הַדָּבָר הֲרֵי בֵּית דִּין חַיָּבִין מִכָּל מָקוֹם לְהַכּוֹתָם מַכָּה רַבָּה הַקְּרוֹבָה לְמִיתָה לְאָסְרָם בְּמָצוֹר וּבְמָצוֹק שָׁנִים רַבּוֹת וּלְצַעֲרָן בְּכָל מִינֵי צַעַר כְּדֵי לְהַפְחִיד וּלְאַיֵּם עַל שְׁאָר הָרְשָׁעִים שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה הַדָּבָר לָהֶם לְפוּקָה וּלְמִכְשׁוֹל וְיֹאמַר הֲרֵינִי מְסַבֵּב לַהֲרֹג אוֹיְבַי כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁעָשָׂה פְּלוֹנִי וְאֶפָּטֵר:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.

6

Whether a person kills an adult or an infant that is one day old, a male or a female, he should be executed if he killed him intentionally, or exiled if he killed him unintentionally.

With regard to an infant, the above applies provided it was born after a full term pregnancy. If, however, it was born before nine months passed, it is considered to be an inviable birth until it lives for 30 days. If it is killed within those 30 days, the killer should not be executed.

ו

אֶחָד הַהוֹרֵג אֶת הַגָּדוֹל אוֹ אֶת הַקָּטָן בֶּן יוֹמוֹ. בֵּין זָכָר בֵּין נְקֵבָה. הֲרֵי זֶה נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו אִם הָרַג בְּזָדוֹן. אוֹ גּוֹלֶה אִם הָרַג בִּשְׁגָגָה. וְהוּא שֶׁכָּלוּ לוֹ חֳדָשָׁיו. אֲבָל אִם נוֹלַד לְפָחוֹת מִתִּשְׁעָה חֳדָשִׁים הֲרֵי הוּא כְּנֵפֶל עַד שֶׁיִּשְׁהֶה שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם וְהַהוֹרְגוֹ בְּתוֹךְ שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם אֵינוֹ נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו:

7

Whether a person kills a healthy person, a sick person who is on the verge of dying, or even a person in his actual death throes, the killer should be executed. If, however, one kills a person in his death throes because of wounds inflicted upon him by others - i.e., he was stricken until he was on the verge of death, and he is in his death throes, the killer should not be executed by the court.

ז

אֶחָד הַהוֹרֵג אֶת הַבָּרִיא אוֹ אֶת הַחוֹלֶה הַנּוֹטֶה לָמוּת. וַאֲפִלּוּ הָרַג אֶת הַגּוֹסֵס נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו. וְאִם הָיָה גּוֹסֵס בִּידֵי אָדָם כְּגוֹן שֶׁהִכּוּהוּ עַד שֶׁנָּטָה לָמוּת וַהֲרֵי הוּא גּוֹסֵס. הַהוֹרְגוֹ אֵין בֵּית דִּין מְמִיתִין אוֹתוֹ:

8

When, by contrast, a person is considered trefah,even though he eats, drinks and walks in the market place, one is not held liable by an earthly court for killing him.

Every person is presumed to be physically sound, and a person who kills him should be executed unless it is certainly known that he is a trefah, and the physicians say that his infirmity does not have any remedy for humans and it will surely cause his death, if no other factor does first.

ח

הַהוֹרֵג אֶת הַטְּרֵפָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאוֹכֵל וְשׁוֹתֶה וּמְהַלֵּךְ בַּשּׁוּק הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר מִדִּינֵי אָדָם. וְכָל אָדָם בְּחֶזְקַת שָׁלֵם וְהַהוֹרְגוֹ נֶהֱרָג עַד שֶׁיִּוָּדַע בְּוַדַּאי שֶׁזֶּה טְרֵפָה וְיֹאמְרוּ הָרוֹפְאִים שֶׁמַּכָּה זוֹ אֵין לָהּ תְּעָלָה בָּאָדָם וּבָהּ יָמוּת אִם לֹא יְמִיתֶנּוּ דָּבָר אַחֵר:

9

When a person who is a trefah kills another man, he should be killed, as reflected by Deuteronomy 19:19, which states: "And you shall destroy the evil from among your midst."

When does this apply? When he committed the murder in the presence of a court. If, however, he committed the murder in the presence of witnesses, he is not liable. The rationale is that the witnesses may be disqualified through hazamah. And if they are disqualified through hazamah, they will not be punished by execution, for they intended merely to have a person who was trefah executed. And whenever the laws of hazamah cannot be applied to testimony, it is not considered to be valid testimony in capital cases.

ט

אָדָם טְרֵפָה שֶׁהָרַג אֶת הַנֶּפֶשׁ נֶהֱרָג שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יג ו) "וּבִעַרְתָּ הָרָע מִקִּרְבֶּךָ". וְהוּא שֶׁיַּהֲרֹג בִּפְנֵי בֵּית דִּין. אֲבָל בִּפְנֵי עֵדִים פָּטוּר שֶׁמָּא יָזֹמּוּ וְאִם הוּזַמּוּ אֵינָן נֶהֱרָגִין שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא זָמְמוּ אֶלָּא לַהֲרֹג טְרֵפָה. וְכָל עֵדוּת שֶׁאֵינָהּ רְאוּיָה לַהֲזָמָה אֵינָהּ עֵדוּת בְּדִינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת:

10

If a person kills either a Jew or a Canaanite servant, he should be executed. If he kills inadvertently, he should be exiled.

י

אֶחָד הַהוֹרֵג אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹ הַהוֹרֵג עֶבֶד כְּנַעֲנִי הֲרֵי זֶה נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו. וְאִם הָרַג בִּשְׁגָגָה גּוֹלֶה:

11

At first, a person who killed a resident alien should not be executed by the court, as implied by Exodus 21:14, which introduces the laws regarding the punishment for murder, by stating: "When a man acts intentionally against his colleague, killing him...." Needless to say, this ruling applies with regard to a gentile.

Whether a person kills his own Canaanite servant or a servant belonging to someone else, he should be executed. For a servant has accepted the yoke of mitzvot and has been added to "the heritage of God."

יא

בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה מִי שֶׁהָרַג גֵּר תּוֹשָׁב אֵינוֹ נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו בְּבֵית דִּין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא יד) "וְכִי יָזִד אִישׁ עַל רֵעֵהוּ". וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר שֶׁאֵינוֹ נֶהֱרָג עַל הָעַכּוּ''ם. וְאֶחָד הַהוֹרֵג אֶת עֶבֶד אֲחֵרִים אוֹ הַהוֹרֵג עַבְדּוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו שֶׁהָעֶבֶד קִבֵּל עָלָיו מִצְוֹת וְנוֹסַף עַל נַחֲלַת ה':

12

What is the difference between killing one's own Canaanite servant and a servant belonging to someone else? With regard to one's own servant, one has the right to strike him. Thus, if one strikes him with a blow that is sufficient to cause death, and he is on the verge of dying, but survives for 24 hours and dies afterwards, the owner should not be executed, although the servant died because of the blow, as Exodus 21:21 states: "But if he survives for a day or two, he shall not be avenged, for he is his property."

What is the intent of the phrase "for a day or two"? A day that is like two days - i.e., a full 24-hour cycle.

יב

מַה בֵּין עַבְדּוֹ לְעֶבֶד אֲחֵרִים. שֶׁעַבְדּוֹ יֵשׁ לוֹ רְשׁוּת לְהַכּוֹתוֹ. לְפִיכָךְ אִם הִכָּהוּ הַכָּאָה שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית וְנָטָה לָמוּת וְעָמַד עֶשְׂרִים וְאַרְבַּע שָׁעוֹת וְאַחַר כָּךְ מֵת לֹא הָיָה נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמֵּת מֵחֲמַת הַמַּכָּה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא כא) "לֹא יֻקַּם כִּי כַסְפּוֹ הוּא". וּמַהוּ (שמות כא כא) "יוֹם אוֹ יוֹמָיִם" יוֹם שֶׁהוּא כְּיוֹמַיִם שֶׁהוּא מֵעֵת לְעֵת:

13

Different rules apply when, by contrast, one strikes a Canaanite servant who belongs to another person. If one strikes him with a blow sufficient to kill, one may be executed for killing him, as one would be executed for killing any free Jew, even if he does not die because of the blow until several days have passed.

יג

אֲבָל הַמַּכֶּה עֶבֶד שֶׁאֵינוֹ שֶׁלּוֹ. אֲפִלּוּ מֵת לְאַחַר כַּמָּה יָמִים מֵחֲמַת הַמַּכָּה הוֹאִיל וְהִכָּהוּ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית הֲרֵי זֶה נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו כִּשְׁאָר בְּנֵי חוֹרִין:

14

It appears to me that when a person strikes his servant with a knife, a sword, a stone, a fist or the like, and it was assessed that he would die, and he did die, the leniency granted if the servant survives more than 24 hours does not apply. Instead, even if the servant dies a year later, the owner should be executed because of the servant's death.

To underscore this point, Exodus 21:20 mentions striking the servant "with a rod." For the Torah has granted the owner permission to beat his servant only with a rod, a staff, a strap or the like, and he may not strike him with murderous blows.

יד

יֵרָאֶה לִי שֶׁהַמַּכֶּה אֶת עַבְדּוֹ בְּסַכִּין וְסַיִף אוֹ בְּאֶבֶן וְאֶגְרוֹף וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן וַאֲמָדוּהוּ לְמִיתָה וּמֵת אֵינוֹ בְּדִין (שמות כא כא) "יוֹם אוֹ יוֹמַיִם" אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ מֵת לְאַחַר שָׁנָה נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו. לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר (שמות כא כ) "בַּשֵּׁבֶט" שֶׁלֹּא נָתְנָה תּוֹרָה רְשׁוּת לְהַכּוֹתוֹ אֶלָּא בְּשֵׁבֶט וּמַקֵּל וּרְצוּעָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן וְלֹא בְּהַכָּאַת רְצִיחָה:

15

The following rules apply when a person sells his servant and stipulates that the servant must continue to serve him for 30 days - and in those 30 days, either the seller or the purchaser strikes the servant - the leniency granted if the servant survives more than 24 hours does not apply, neither to the seller nor to the purchaser, and the killer should be executed.

The rationale is that the servant no longer is the personal "property" of the seller, nor has he entered the domain of the purchaser.

טו

הַמּוֹכֵר עַבְדּוֹ וּפָסַק עִמּוֹ שֶׁיְּשַׁמְּשֵׁנוּ שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם וְהִכָּהוּ אֶחָד מֵהֶן בְּתוֹךְ הַשְּׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם וֶהֱמִיתוֹ. הֲרֵי זֶה נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו וְאֵינוֹ בְּדִין (שמות כא כא) "יוֹם אוֹ יוֹמַיִם". הָרִאשׁוֹן לְפִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ (שמות כא כא) "כַּסְפּוֹ" הַמְיֻחָד לוֹ. וְהַשֵּׁנִי לְפִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ עֲדַיִן תַּחְתָּיו:

16

Similarly, if a person is half servant and half free,or there is a servant belonging to two partners, and the owner or one of the owners strikes and kills the servant, the leniency granted if the servant survives more than 24 hours does not apply. For in these cases, there is not an owner who owns the servant as his personal "property." Therefore, the owner should be executed, as would any other person.

טז

וְכֵן מִי שֶׁחֶצְיוֹ עֶבֶד וְחֶצְיוֹ בֶּן חוֹרִין וְעֶבֶד שֶׁל שְׁנֵי שֻׁתָּפִין אֵינוֹ בְּדִין (שמות כא כא) "יוֹם אוֹ יוֹמַיִם". שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵינָן לְאֶחָד מֵהֶן (שמות כא כא) "כַּסְפּוֹ" הַמְיֻחָד לוֹ. וּלְפִיכָךְ נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו כִּשְׁאָר הָעָם: