The original-language words variously rendered “kill,” “murder,” and “slay” refer to the taking of a life, the context or other scriptures determining whether the deliberate and unauthorized or unlawful taking of another person’s life is involved.
For example, in the command, You must not murder Ex 20:13, the Hebrew word for murder” ra·tsachʹ here clearly refers to deliberate and unlawful killing.
But at Numbers 35:27 the same term denotes an act that an avenger of blood was authorized to carry out.
Therefore, the command, “You must not murder,” has to be understood within the framework of the entire Mosaic Law, which authorized the taking of human life under certain circumstances, as in the execution of criminals.
Since the Sixth Commandment merely restated what God had said earlier through Noah to the whole human family, we are still obliged to avoid murdering.
In fact, the closing chapters of the Bible warn us that unrepentant murderers will experience eternal destruction in the “second death.” Rev. 21:8; 22:15
So the rendering “Thou shalt not kill” does not truly convey the real flavor of the Sixth Commandment. It is more properly translated “You must not murder.”
Appreciating this aids us to see that Israel’s righteous wars did not violate that command. And we can better sense its significance as to our conduct and attitude toward taking human life.