Since the Hebrew word RATZACH was used in Deuteronomy 5:17, the translation, “You shall not kill” is allegedly wrong and the correct version is “You shall not murder.”

There are cases, such as in a just war, when the Israelite’s are allowed to kill (Deuteronomy 20) under specific circumstances. Again, such circumstances are circumscribed. In other words, the unconditional prohibition of murder does not mean that killing is okay.

Here is the Hebrew text of Deuteronomy 5:17 and the corresponding transliteration.


Lo tirtzach veho tinaf velo tignov velo-taane vereacha ed shav.

If we analyze, is it really correct that others say the Hebrew word רָצַח or “Ratzach” is only used to describe illegal killing?

Here is the Hebrew Conjugation tables we made for the Hebrew word לִרְצוֹחַ or “to be murdered”.


Others want to justify the Hebrew word; “Ratzach” only refers to illegal killing or intentional killing.

We will see the Hebrew word רָצַח (ratzach) as well as רוֹצֵחַ (rotzeach).

The word used in Deuteronomy 5:17 can depending on the context (not the word itself) refers to murder OR accidentally killing someone.

The same verb implies killing with intent and killing without intent.

In Numbers 35:6, the Hebrew word “rotzeach” is used to mean killing someone accidentally.


The commandment is not explicit, and the verb is ambiguous, meaning “kill” (unintentionally) or “murder” (intentional). Num 35:6 alongside 35:11-12 (“kills without intent”) shows the ambiguity: ratzach and makeh.


The Aramaic targums use the root קטל when this verb appears in the Hebrew text.

If the Hebrew word ratzach was not used, is it not a sin that Cain murdered Abel?

Aramaic uses the word “qatal” frequently for several Hebrew words like “Ratzach”, “harag”-(“smite with dead intent”), “tabakh”- (“butcher”), “zabackh” and “muth”-(“put to death”), “nakah”-(“strike to kill”) & “shakhat”-(slaughter of animals). There are other Aramaic words like “Khereb”, “muth” and “nekas”.Yet, “qatal” means “thou shalt not kill”. There are other places where unintentional manslaughter is described. It also refers to to slaughter of an animal or the Hebrew word “harag”-(smite with deadly intent”). Refer to Genesis 4:8 as example wherein Cain killed Abel. Aramaic “nekas” generally means slaughter of an animal for sacrifice and food. The Hebrew word is “shakhat”

In New Testament Hebrew of 1 John 3:12 , we can read the Hebrew word Harag once again and not ratzach but still the act was sinful.

לׂא כְקַיִן אֲשֶׁר הָיָה מִן־הָרָע וְהָרַג אֶת־אָחִיו וּמַדּוּעַ הֲרָגוֹ יַעַן כִּי־מַעֲשָׂיו הָיוּ רָעִים וּמַעֲשֵׂי אָחִיו מַעֲשֵׂי־צֶדֶק
(1 John 3:12, Hebrew New Testament)

Lo cheKayin haba mimkor vayaharog et-achiv oomadooa harago yaan kimaasav hayoo raeem oomaasey achiv yesharim

“We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.”(1 John 3:12, NRSV)

The Peshitta Old Testament does not differentiate between “Ratzach” -“Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13) and killing a man or a dog – Isaiah 66:3. “Qatal” is the Aramaic word used for the two. In this verse, Hebrew has “shakhat”- (an ox), “nakah” (a man), “zebakh” (a lamb) and even “araph” (cut off a dog’s neck).