Should a Jewish state have an Army? Isn't it un-Jewish to kill people? How would Judaism apply the law from the Ten Commandments, "You shall not kill" in modern Israel?


You may be surprised to learn that nowhere in the Ten Commandments or the entire Bible does it say "You shall not kill". Understanding this is vital to a true appreciation of Biblical morality.

The original Hebrew is "Lo tirtzach", which means "Do not murder". The Hebrew word for killing is "hariga", a completely different verb. There is a world of significance in this choice of words.

Murder is the taking of innocent life, which is always forbidden. Killing is the taking of any life, which is sometimes permitted or even obligatory. The Bible commands us to kill those who have irreversibly lost their innocence. There are two categories of such people:

1) Someone who is found guilty in a court of certain crimes, such as murder or kidnapping.

2) Someone who is posing a clear and direct threat to the lives of innocents. An example would be an armed gunman who breaks into someone else's home (Exodus 22:2).

I believe this is the most consistent and compassionate moral system. Above all else, innocent life is protected, both by the commandment not to murder and the commandment to kill those who are a threat to innocent people.