MembersDid Cain Sin?

“And Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” (Genesis 4:8).

By Aviel Schneider |
Photo: Creative Commons

 For more than a year I have been trying to understand the choice of words in this verse. In the Hebrew Bible text, it states that Cain “killed” his brother. The word used is yahargehu (יהרגהו ,( from the root word hereg ) הרג ,(which translates as kill. Why doesn’t the Bible use the Hebrew word for murder – rezach (רצח )in this case?

The sixth of the Ten Commandments states: “You shall not murder!” In most English Bible translations, the sixth commandment is translated incorrectly. There, it reads: “You shall not kill!” I have often engaged in disputes on this point with believing Christians, and have been able to explain to them the difference between killing and murder.

From a biblical viewpoint, there is a big difference between killing and murder. Didn’t God Himself command His people to destroy all the foreign races in Canaan? The Israeli army is officially known as the IDF – Israel Defense Forces. Israel’s soldiers defend the nation of Israel. In wars and conflicts, people are killed in accordance with the biblical understanding. They are not murdered. Murder has...

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