A person who intended to kill one person and instead killed another is not liable - neither for execution by the court, nor for financial liability, nor for exile.

He is not liable for exile because the cities of refuge will not serve as protection for him, as will be explained.

Therefore, a person who throws a stone into a group of Jews without the intent of killing any specific person is not liable for execution by the court, even though he in fact kills a person.


הַמִּתְכַּוִּן לַהֲרֹג אֶת זֶה וְהָרַג אֶת זֶה פָּטוּר מִמִּיתַת בֵּית דִּין וּמִן הַתַּשְׁלוּמִין וּמִן הַגָּלוּת. לְפִי שֶׁאֵין עָרֵי מִקְלָט קוֹלְטוֹת אוֹתוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר. לְפִיכָךְ הַזּוֹרֵק אֶבֶן לְתוֹךְ עֵדָה מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל וְהָרַג אֶחָד מֵהֶן פָּטוּר מִמִּיתַת בֵּית דִּין:


Similarly, a killer is not held liable for execution in the following instances. He intended to strike a colleague on his loins, and the utensil was not sufficient to kill if it struck a person on his loins, but it instead struck him on his heart and he died. Or a person intended to strike a colleague on his heart, and the blow was sufficient to kill had it struck him on the heart, but instead it struck the victim on his loins and it was not sufficient to kill an ordinary person if it struck him on his loins, but this person died. In these instances, the killer is not liable for execution by the court, nor is he exiled, because a person who kills intentionally is never exiled.

If, however, he intended to strike him on his loins, and the blow was sufficient to kill him if it struck him on his loins, but it struck him on his heart, killing him, the killer should be executed. Similar principles apply in all analogous instances.


נִתְכַּוֵּן לְהַכּוֹת אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ עַל מָתְנָיו וְלֹא הָיָה בַּכְּלִי כְּדֵי לְהָמִית עַל מָתְנָיו וְהָלְכָה לָהּ הָאֶבֶן עַל לִבּוֹ וְהָיָה בָּהּ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית עַל לִבּוֹ וּמֵת. אוֹ שֶׁנִּתְכַּוֵּן לְהַכּוֹתוֹ עַל לִבּוֹ וְהָיָה בָּהּ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית עַל לִבּוֹ וְהָלְכָה לָהּ עַל מָתְנָיו וְלֹא הָיָה בָּהּ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית עַל מָתְנָיו וּמֵת. פָּטוּר מִמִּיתַת בֵּית דִּין וְאֵינוֹ גּוֹלֶה שֶׁאֵין הַהוֹרֵג בְּכַוָּנָה גּוֹלֶה. אֲבָל אִם נִתְכַּוֵּן לְהַכּוֹתוֹ עַל מָתְנָיו וְהָיָה בָּהּ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית עַל מָתְנָיו וְהָלְכָה לָהּ עַל לִבּוֹ וּמֵת הֲרֵי זֶה נֶהֱרָג. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:


When a person strikes a colleague with a stone or a fist in a manner that could cause his death, but he does not die immediately, an assessment should be made.

If the judges assess that the victim would live, the person who struck the blow is liable only to pay the five damages awarded to a person who is injured, and he is released. Even if the victim falls ill, and his situation becomes more serious and ultimately he dies, the person who struck the blow is not held liable.

If the judges assess that the victim would die, they should imprison the person who struck the blow immediately and wait to see the outcome. If the victim does die, the person who struck the blow should be executed. If, however, the victim's condition improves, and he becomes healed entirely to the extent that he walks in the marketplace on his feet like other healthy people, the person who struck the blow should pay the damages and should be released.


הַמַּכֶּה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ בְּאֶבֶן אוֹ בְּאֶגְרוֹף וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן אוֹמְדִין אוֹתוֹ. אִם אֲמָדוּהוּ לְחַיִּים נוֹתֵן חֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים וְנִפְטָר. וַאֲפִלּוּ חָלָה הַמֻּכֶּה וְהִכְבִּיד וּמֵת מֵחֲמַת הַמַּכָּה הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר. וְאִם אֲמָדוּהוּ לְמִיתָה אוֹסְרִין אֶת הַמַּכֶּה בְּבֵית הַסֹּהַר מִיָּד וּמַמְתִּינִים לָזֶה. אִם מֵת יֵהָרֵג הַמַּכֶּה וְאִם הֵקֵל וְנִתְרַפֵּא רְפוּאָה שְׁלֵמָה וְהָלַךְ בַּשּׁוּק עַל רַגְלָיו כִּשְׁאָר הַבְּרִיאִים מְשַׁלֵּם הַמַּכֶּה חֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים וְנִפְטָר:


The Torah's expression על משענתו does not mean that he should walk while supported by a staff or by another person. For even a person who is on the verge of dying can walk leaning on a support. Instead, the intent in this verse is that he walk supported by his own power, without relying on any other factor for support.


זֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בַּתּוֹרָה (שמות כא יט) "עַל מִשְׁעַנְתּוֹ" אֵינוֹ שֶׁיַּהֲלֹךְ וְהוּא נִשְׁעָן עַל הַמַּטֶּה אוֹ עַל אַחֵר. שֶׁאֲפִילוּ הַנּוֹטֶה לָמוּת יָכוֹל לְהַלֵּךְ עַל הַמִּשְׁעֶנֶת. לֹא נֶאֱמַר מִשְׁעַנְתּוֹ אֶלָּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה מְהַלֵּךְ עַל מִשְׁעֶנֶת בֻּרְיוֹ וְלֹא יִהְיֶה צָרִיךְ כֹּחַ אַחֵר לְהִשָּׁעֵן עָלָיו:


If it was assessed that the victim would die, and afterwards his condition improved, but then deteriorated, and ultimately he died, the killer should be executed. We do not make a second assessment after the victim's condition improves, for there is a basis for the assumption that he died because of the original blow.


אֲמָדוּהוּ לְמִיתָה וְהֵקֵל מִמַּה שֶּׁהָיָה וּלְאַחַר מִכָּאן הִכְבִּיד וּמֵת הֲרֵי זֶה נֶהֱרָג. וְאֵין אוֹמְדִין אוֹתוֹ אֹמֶד שֵׁנִי כְּשֶׁהֵקֵל. שֶׁרַגְלַיִם לַדָּבָר:

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.


If ten people strike a person with ten different sticks and he dies, they are all not held liable for execution by the court. This law applies regardless of whether they struck him one after the other or they struck him at the same time.

These concepts are derived from Leviticus 24:17: "If he strikes any person mortally he should be put to death." כל translated as "any" also means "all." Implied is that death is not required unless one person alone is entirely accountable for the person's death.

The same law applies if two people push a colleague into water or hold him there, or several people are sitting together and an arrow emerges from their company and kills; none is held liable for execution.


הִכּוּהוּ עֲשָׂרָה בְּנֵי אָדָם בַּעֲשָׂרָה מַקְלוֹת וּמֵת בֵּין שֶׁהִכּוּהוּ בָּזֶה אַחַר זֶה בֵּין שֶׁהִכּוּהוּ כְּאַחַת כֻּלָּן פְּטוּרִין מִמִּיתַת בֵּית דִּין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כד יז) "כָּל נֶפֶשׁ אָדָם" עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אֶחָד שֶׁהָרַג כָּל הַנֶּפֶשׁ. וְהוּא הַדִּין לִשְׁנַיִם שֶׁדְּחָפוּהוּ אוֹ שֶׁכְּבָשׁוּהוּ לְתוֹךְ הַמַּיִם אוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ רַבִּים יוֹשְׁבִים וְיָצָא חֵץ מִבֵּינֵיהֶן וְהָרַג שֶׁכֻּלָּן פְּטוּרִין:


A different ruling is rendered in the following instance. Ten people threw stones at a person one after the other, and none of the stones was of sufficient weight to cause death. Afterwards, another person cast a stone that was of sufficient weight to cause death and the victim died. The last person who threw the stone should be executed.

If a murderer who was sentenced to execution becomes intermingled with other people, they are all absolved. Similarly, when a murderer who was not convicted becomes intermingled with other murderers who were sentenced to execution, none should be executed. The rationale is that judgment can be passed on a person only in his presence. All the killers should, however, be imprisoned.


זָרְקוּ בּוֹ עֲשָׂרָה אֶבֶן זֶה אַחַר זֶה וְכָל אַחַת מֵהֶן אֵין בָּהּ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית וְזָרַק אֶחָד אֶבֶן בָּאַחֲרוֹנָה וְיֵשׁ בָּהּ כְּדֵי לְהָמִית וּמֵת הֲרֵי זֶה הָאַחֲרוֹן נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו. רוֹצֵחַ שֶׁנִּגְמַר דִּינוֹ וְנִתְעָרֵב בַּאֲחֵרִים וְלֹא נוֹדַע מִי הוּא מֵהֶן כֻּלָּן פְּטוּרִין. וְרוֹצֵחַ שֶׁלֹּא נִגְמַר דִּינוֹ שֶׁנִּתְעָרֵב בְּרוֹצְחִים אֲחֵרִים שֶׁנִּגְמַר דִּינָן כֻּלָּן פְּטוּרִין מִן הַמִּיתָה שֶׁאֵין גּוֹמְרִין דִּינוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם אֶלָּא בְּפָנָיו. וְאוֹסְרִין אֶת כֻּלָּן:


The following laws apply when a person kills people, but the witnesses did not observe his act together - instead one saw him after the other did: a person killed in the presence of witnesses, but a warning was not given; or the witnesses to a murder contradicted each other with regard to the fine points of the testimony, but not with regard to the fundamental questions.

All those murderers should be forced to enter a kipah. There they are fed parched bread and small amounts of water until their digestive tract contracts. Then they are fed barley until their bellies burst because of the extent of the sickness and they die.


הַהוֹרֵג נְפָשׁוֹת וְלֹא הָיוּ עֵדִים רוֹאִין אוֹתוֹ כְּאַחַת אֶלָּא רָאָהוּ הָאֶחָד אַחַר הָאֶחָד אוֹ שֶׁהָרַג בִּפְנֵי שְׁנֵי עֵדִים בְּלֹא הַתְרָאָה אוֹ שֶׁהֻכְחֲשׁוּ הָעֵדִים בִּבְדִיקוֹת וְלֹא הֻכְחֲשׁוּ בַּחֲקִירוֹת. כָּל אֵלּוּ הָרַצְחָנִים כּוֹנְסִין אוֹתָן לְכִפָּה וּמַאֲכִילִין אוֹתָן לֶחֶם צַר וּמַיִם לַחַץ עַד שֶׁיָּצֵרוּ מֵעֵיהֶן וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַאֲכִילִין אוֹתָן שְׂעוֹרִים עַד שֶׁתִּבָּקַע כְּרֵסָם מִכֹּבֶד הַחלִי:


This measure is not taken with regard to other crimes punishable by execution by the court. If a defendant is liable for execution, he should be executed. If he is not liable for execution, he should be released.

Although there are other sins that are more serious than murder, they do not present as serious a danger to society as murder does. Even idol worship - and needless to say, incest or the violation of the Sabbath - are not considered as severe as murder. For these sins involve man's relationship with God, while murder also involves man's relationship with his fellow man.

Whoever commits this sin is an utterly wicked person. All the mitzvot that he performs throughout his lifetime cannot outweigh this sin and save him from judgment. Thus, Proverbs 28:17 states: "A man weighed down with life's blood will flee to the pit."

Come and learn from the example of Ach'av King of Israel. He was an idolater so debased in his paganism that I Kings 21:25 says: "There was none like Ach'av who gave himself over to the performance of wickedness in the eyes of God." And yet when his merits and sins were weighed in the presence of the Lord of spirits, there was no sin that warranted his destruction and was not counterbalanced by a positive quality, except the blood of Navot.

Thus, it is written Ibid. 22:21, in the description of the prophecy of Ach'av's death in battle: "And the spirit came and stood before God." Our Sages commented:: "This is the spirit of Navot." And God told the spirit (Ibid.:2): "You will persuade him and prevail."

Now this wicked man Ach'av did not actually kill his victim with his own hands; he merely brought about his death. How much more so this condemnation should apply when a person kills another with his own hands.


וְאֵין עוֹשִׂין דָּבָר זֶה לִשְׁאָר מְחֻיְּבֵי מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין אֲבָל אִם נִתְחַיֵּב מִיתָה מְמִיתִין אוֹתוֹ וְאִם אֵינוֹ חַיָּב מִיתָה פּוֹטְרִין אוֹתוֹ. שֶׁאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיֵּשׁ עֲוֹנוֹת חֲמוּרִין מִשְּׁפִיכוּת דָּמִים אֵין בָּהֶן הַשְׁחָתַת יִשּׁוּבוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם כִּשְׁפִיכוּת דָּמִים. אֲפִלּוּ עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר עֲרָיוֹת אוֹ חִלּוּל שַׁבָּת אֵינָן כִּשְׁפִיכוּת דָּמִים. שֶׁאֵלּוּ עֲוֹנוֹת הֵן מֵעֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁבֵּין אָדָם לַמָּקוֹם אֲבָל שְׁפִיכוּת דָּמִים מֵעֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁבֵּינוֹ לְבֵין חֲבֵרוֹ. וְכָל מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּיָדוֹ עָוֹן זֶה הֲרֵי הוּא רָשָׁע גָּמוּר וְאֵין כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת שֶׁעָשָׂה כָּל יָמָיו שְׁקוּלִין כְּנֶגֶד עָוֹן זֶה וְלֹא יַצִּילוּהוּ מִן הַדִּין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי כח יז) "אָדָם עָשֻׁק בְּדַם נָפֶשׁ" וְגוֹ'. צֵא וּלְמַד מֵאַחְאָב עוֹבֵד עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה שֶׁהֲרֵי נֶאֱמַר בּוֹ (מלכים א כא כה) "רַק לֹא הָיָה כְּאַחְאָב". וּכְשֶׁנִּסְדְּרוּ עֲוֹנוֹתָיו וּזְכֻיּוֹתָיו לִפְנֵי אֱלֹהֵי הָרוּחוֹת לֹא נִמְצָא עָוֹן שֶׁחִיְּבוֹ כְּלָיָה וְלֹא הָיָה שָׁם דָּבָר אַחֵר שֶׁשָּׁקוּל כְּנֶגְדּוֹ אֶלָּא דְּמֵי נָבוֹת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (מלכים א כב כא) "וַתֵּצֵא הָרוּחַ וַתַּעֲמֹד לִפְנֵי ה'" זֶה רוּחַ נָבוֹת וְנֶאֱמַר לוֹ (מלכים א כב כב) "תְּפַתֶּה וְגַם תּוּכָל". וַהֲרֵי הוּא הָרָשָׁע לֹא הָרַג בְּיָדוֹ אֶלָּא סִבֵּב. קַל וָחֹמֶר לַהוֹרֵג בְּיָדוֹ:


It is a mitzvah to kill minim and apikorsim.

The term minim refers to Jewish idolaters or those who perform transgressions for the sake of angering God, even if one eats non-kosher meat for the sake of angering God or wears sha'atnez for the sake of angering God.

The term apikorsim refers to Jews who deny the Torah and the concept of prophecy.

If there is the possibility, one should kill them with a sword in public view. If that is not possible, one should develop a plan so that one can cause their deaths.

What is implied? If one sees such a person descend to a cistern, and there is a ladder in the cistern, one should take the ladder, and excuse oneself, saying: "I must hurry to take my son down from the roof. I shall return the ladder to you soon." Similarly, one should devise other analogous plans to cause the death of such people.


הָאֶפִּיקוֹרְסִים וְהֵם עוֹבְדֵי עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה אוֹ הָעוֹשֶׂה עֲבֵרוֹת לְהַכְעִיס אֲפִלּוּ אָכַל נְבֵלָה אוֹ לָבַשׁ שַׁעַטְנֵז לְהַכְעִיס הֲרֵי זֶה אֶפִּיקוֹרוֹס וְשֶׁכּוֹפְרִין בַּתּוֹרָה וּבַנְּבוּאָה הָיָה מִצְוָה לְהָרְגָן. אִם יֵשׁ בְּיָדוֹ כֹּחַ לְהָרְגָן בְּסַיִף בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא הוֹרֵג. וְאִם לָאו הָיָה בָּא עֲלֵיהֶן בַּעֲלִילוֹת עַד שֶׁיְּסַבֵּב הֲרִיגָתָן. כֵּיצַד. רָאָה אֶחָד מֵהֶן שֶׁנָּפַל לִבְאֵר וְהַסֻּלָּם בַּבְּאֵר. הָיָה מְסַלְּקוֹ וְאוֹמֵר הֲרֵינִי טָרוּד לְהוֹרִיד בְּנִי מִן הַגַּג וְאַחֲזִירֶנּוּ לְךָ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בִּדְבָרִים אֵלּוּ:


With regard to a gentile idolater with whom we are not at war, a Jewish shepherd of small livestock, and the like, by contrast, we should not try to cause their deaths. It is, however, forbidden to save their lives if their lives are threatened. For example, if such a person fell into the sea, one should not rescue him. Leviticus 19:16] states: "Do not stand idly by while your brother's blood is at stake." This does not apply with regard to such individuals, because they are not "your brothers."


אֲבָל עוֹבְדֵי כּוֹכָבִים שֶׁאֵין בֵּינֵינוּ וּבֵינָם מִלְחָמָה וְרוֹעֵי בְּהֵמָה דַּקָּה מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן אֵין מְסַבְּבִים לָהֶן הַמִּיתָה וְאָסוּר לְהַצִּילָן אִם נָטוּ לָמוּת. כְּגוֹן שֶׁרָאָה אֶחָד מֵהֶן שֶׁנָּפַל לַיָּם אֵינוֹ מַעֲלֵהוּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יט טז) "לֹא תַעֲמֹד עַל דַּם רֵעֶךָ". וְאֵין זֶה רֵעֶךָ:


When does the above apply? With regard to a Jew who sins and perseveres in his wickedness, continually repeating it - e.g., shepherds of small livestock who show no consideration for the prohibition against robbery and continue in their perversity.

When, by contrast, a Jew commits transgressions, but does not maintain his wickedness continually, merely occasionally sinning for his own personal satisfaction - e.g., one who eats non-kosher food for pleasure - it is a mitzvah to save his life, and it is forbidden to stand idly by when his life is threatened.


בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל בַּעַל עֲבֵרָה וְהָעוֹמֵד בְּרִשְׁעוֹ וְשׁוֹנֶה בּוֹ תָּמִיד כְּגוֹן רוֹעֵי בְּהֵמָה דַּקָּה שֶׁפָּקְרוּ בְּגֵזֶל וְהֵם הוֹלְכִים בְּאִוַּלְתָּן. אֲבָל יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּעַל עֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹמֵד בְּרִשְׁעוֹ תָּמִיד אֶלָּא עוֹשֶׂה עֲבֵרוֹת לַהֲנָאַת עַצְמוֹ כְּגוֹן אוֹכֵל נְבֵלוֹת לְתֵאָבוֹן מִצְוָה לְהַצִּילוֹ וְאָסוּר לַעֲמֹד עַל דָּמוֹ: