“Thou shalt not kill.” Hmm, but doesn’t God kill people? He sounds very nasty to me.
(Cue references to Old-Testament wars, pagan kings getting heads chopped off, etc.)
It’s been a while since I’ve heard that. It’s sometimes spoken as a genuine question, but from what I’ve seen, much more often used as a cheap debate “point.”
One could certainly say much more about the difficult nature of hearing that God did command the Israelites to wage war against other peoples. But suffice it to say, the verse in newer, less-likely-to-be-misread translations actually reads:
You shall not murder.
… And the clear, main meaning is that of killing someone intentionally, of one’s own volition.1
This does not apply to God, Who had His reasons for telling His people to kill others, to avoid the others’ sin and corruption.
Either way, a non-Christian would be stumped to explain how, exactly, it would be wrong for a stronger group to conquer a weaker group, even if they did falsely do so in the name of a mean nasty tribal “god.” After all, isn’t this simply species evolution in action?
- A text note in the English Standard Version also notes: “The Hebrew word also covers causing human death through carelessness or negligence.” ↩