Lest we forget

I have to say that it could have been a bit easier to forget that ANZAC day on this year, as there was no associated public holiday in New Zealand given that it fell on a Sunday.

But we did not forget, and actually I was more aware of the occasion this year than most. I’m not sure why, to be honest. I just seemed to notice more poppies pinned to people’s shirts, more men and women in uniform walking to and from various commemorative services – it just felt more ANZACy than usual…which is strange, given there was no day off to prompt one’s recall.

A visiting priest at our parish gave a very good homily on the subject. He spoke about how war is a terrible thing (and it is) and that people all over the world are suffering from the horrors of it (and they are). He also spoke about how those men who gave their lives in the World Wars and other conflicts were doing so because they felt called to stand up against a perceived evil. They were not going to back down, or disappear, or allow that evil to take over and win. And I find that courageous and heroic.

I don’t want this post to kick off yet another re-litigation of the “Just War” concept, so I’m trying to steer clear. But I will say this – for all those who find it difficult to digest the killing of a fellow human being under any circumstances, let me just say that I’m with you. I can’t grasp the concept…and I pray that I never have to! Our priest spoke of how his father served in wartime, but never spoke of what he had to do as a soldier. And that it wasn’t until much later that our priest realised that his own father probably had killed some other men in war.

That concept is just so foreign to me, but the irony is that this is, in part, because of the sacrifice made by the ANZACs. I mean, our peace was bought by their blood, right? That’s some pretty humbling stuff.

By the way, for those who are interested in the Sixth Commandment conflict here, I’ve recently done a bit of reading on this and I suggest you do too. The Commandment actually translates to “thou shalt not murder”, not “kill”. The word in Hebrew – “ratsach” – means to kill or slay in a predatory or pre-meditated way. In other words, murder or manslaughter. Not war (excluding war crimes), or capital punishment for that matter. But I digress…dangerously close to the Just War line too… ;)

Our priest also talked about yesterday being Good Shepherd Sunday – the day we remember our priests – and he pointedly referred to how difficult it is to look at priests in a good light right now with all the media coverage at the moment on the abuse scandals. But he also pointed out that there are literally thousands of good men who haven’t broken their vows and who have given their lives to the Church and to us. They visit the sick, help the needy, share our joys and our sorrows – and keep us focused on God.

Both categories of men have made sacrifices. For me. And sometimes I take that for granted. Maybe we all do. And we shouldn’t.

I guess…I just wanted to say thank you.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

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    Comments: 44

    1. Chris Sullivan April 26, 2010 at 12:26 pm

      In the Catholic list, the commandment “thou shalt not kill” is numbered as the fifth, not the sixth commandment. The sixth is a protestant numbering.

      The word “ratsach” is used for capital punishment in Numbers 35:30

      Whoso killeth any person, the murderer [ratsach] shall be put to death [ratsach] by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person [to cause him] to die.


      The Catechism of the Catholic Church, and English language Catholic bibles for centuries, translate this commandment as “thou shalt not kill”, not “thou shalt not murder”. The later is a modern protestant translation popular in the USA where war and capital punishment are popular.

      God Bless

    2. JoyfulPapist April 26, 2010 at 12:39 pm

      I was struck by a juxtaposition on the news – perhaps a deliberate one.

      There was an interview with the maker of the film ‘Home for Christmas’ – a movie based on the filmmaker’s interviews with her father. She talked about the futility of war, and acknowledged her debt to her father for her pacifist beliefs. “When we say Lest ­We Forget, I know it means that we don’t forget the enormous cost of war and all the lives that have been lost, of course. But what I think we’re also supposed to be remembering is not to go, and not to do it, that there has to be another solution. Wars don’t solve anything, they just breed more wars.”

      Right next to that interview was coverage of the Australian Assyrian community’s visit to New Zealand. They came to unveil a plaque honouring the 750,000 people who lost their lives in the 1914-1918 war – 750,000 out of a nation of over 800,000 people. They also came to honour the New Zealander who was one of nine Allied soldiers who defended the remnant of their nation as they fled 1000km across the desert to safety. Captain Robert Kenneth Nichol and his colleagues saved 60,000 lives – Captain Nichol died in the fighting.

      Wars are a mistake – they don’t solve anything. And I am free to say so because of people like Captain Nichols.

    3. Chris Sullivan April 26, 2010 at 12:44 pm


      Pope John Paul II would agree with you, teaching this in his encyclical Centesimus Annus :

      I myself, on the occasion of the recent tragic war in the Persian Gulf [the first Gulf War], repeated the cry: “Never again war!”. No, never again war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution of the very problems which provoked the war.

      God Bless

    4. JoyfulPapist April 26, 2010 at 1:03 pm

      Chris, you miss my point entirely. I abhor war and killing. I am grateful to those who have gone to war and killed in order to give me the freedom to be against war and killing. I haven’t resolved that conundrum. I don’t think there can be a blanket resolution. Any sane person must surely differentiate between the actions of those who were attacking the column of 90,000 men, women and children escaping through the desert, that I mentioned in my post above, and those who were defending it. Pope John Paul II is quoted as saying, “I am not a pacifist”, and was one of the first to call for military action in Bosnia.

    5. Chris Sullivan April 26, 2010 at 1:12 pm


      Pope John Paul II opposed the first Gulf War before it even got started.

      So did Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

      God Bless

    6. JoyfulPapist April 26, 2010 at 1:57 pm

      Pope John Paul II in 1994, in reference to Bosnia: “”In the moral teachings of the church, all military aggression is judged to be morally wrong. Legitimate defense, by contrast, is viewed as admissible and sometimes obligatory. The history of our century has confirmed this teaching numerous times.”

    7. dave morgan April 26, 2010 at 2:05 pm

      jp, ;)

      don’t worry, we see what you’re saying

      war = bad, horrible, horrendous, undesirable, destructive

      no sane or reasonable person wants it

      but when wars have happened in the past, caused by people(s) who had a lot of power and resources, we have needed people to defend societies, cultures, innocents etc

      so we can thank and honor those who gave their lives for those innocents


      by honoring them, there is no moral connotation of supporting war(s), or killing, or murder.

      people who think that way are trying to moralize that thanks

      its about seeing how some gave their lives to help others, to preserve innocent lives, cultures, societies, stability etc and giving thanks for that

      i think that everybody sees and knows that chris is against self-defence, and tries to instrumentalize others to those opinions, which he tries to pass off as Christian

      chris, you should go and live in a country where there is strife and war due to some tyrant, and see what it’s like, and see whether you keep the same ideas

      i know people who have escaped from such countries, and all of them hold firmly to self-defense, and are absolutely not pacifist, because they understand what is at stake – human life. when one understands the dignity of human life, and how beautiful that gift is, one cannot sit by and watch while others are murdered and abused, and tortured

      pacifism is an ideology – ie, starts from ideas rather than reality – and shows itself not to value human life deeply enough. buddhism is like this. it is stoic, and platonic, looking to escape from the reality of the body, and looks to avoid responsible human living by avoiding suffering by removing human desire (nirvana). it is inhuman at the end of the day, and does not value human life enough, and pacifism is part of that

      peace ;)

    8. dave morgan April 26, 2010 at 2:07 pm

      jp re: #6 – yes :)

    9. Chris Sullivan April 26, 2010 at 2:19 pm


      Here’s what JPII actually said about Bosnia. It’s clear that he did not endorse the Nato air strikes but instead called for other forms of non-violent defense (international sanctions etc).

      It is an error to think that defense must be by military means or that it justifies deliberate killing.

      Calling for what he described as “humanitarian intervention” in former Yugoslav republics, the Pope said he favored “not primarily a military intervention but all forms of action aimed at disarming the aggressor.”

      While the Pope’s choice of words clearly indicated that he was not endorsing foreign military strikes, he seemed to offer some justification of military intervention if all else failed.

      “In the moral teachings of the church, all military aggression is judged to be morally wrong,” the Pope said. “Legitimate defense, by contrast, is viewed as admissible and sometimes obligatory. The history of our century has confirmed this teaching numerous times.”

      His remarks, made at a regular Wednesday audience, were delivered on the same day as the United Nations Secretary General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, ordered high-ranking officials to study the renewed threat by NATO, made at a summit meeting on Tuesday, to mount air strikes in Bosnia to relieve the “strangulation” of Sarajevo and other Muslim enclaves besieged by Serbian forces.

      The Vatican spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, sought to play down the coincidence, saying the Pope’s remarks today had been written a week ago. “It would be a mistake to say the Vatican is blessing the decisions of NATO,” he said.

      Mr. Navarro-Valls said today that military action could only be justified when all other possibilities had been exhausted. And even then, he said, “it is not the same thing to bombard Belgrade or a mountaintop where some soldiers have placed a mortar.”


      The Nato action in Bosnia did not meet the Cathechism criteria for the use of military force in defence.

      And neither did the ANZAC invasion of Turkey, which had nothing whatsoever to do with any defence of New Zealand, but was merely our connivance in British Imperial war moves to expand the Empire.

      And neither is NZ military intervention in Afghanistan today justified.

      God Bless

    10. JoyfulPapist April 26, 2010 at 2:28 pm

      Not one word of which is to the point, Chris. Reread my original post; better still, reread what James the Least said.

    11. Chris Sullivan April 26, 2010 at 2:45 pm


      John Paul II explains pretty lucidly here in his encyclical why war does not solve the problem but just makes things worse.

      No, never again war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution of the very problems which provoked the war.

      One cannot overcome violence by using more violence. That’s like pouring gasoline on a fire, just escalating the violence and making it worse.

      The Christian response to violence is this

      “But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
      bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

      To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic.

      Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.

      Do to others as you would have them do to you.

      For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.

      And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same.

      If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit (is) that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount.

      But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

      Be merciful, just as (also) your Father is merciful.

      Luke 6

      This is how Jesus faced the violence against him at calvary.

      Sure, it’s the way of the cross, which is why people want to run away from it.

      But, in the final analysis, it’s the only way that really works.

      Because only Love can defeat evil.

      God Bless

    12. JoyfulPapist April 26, 2010 at 2:51 pm

      It seems to me that the attraction of Anzac Day is the attraction of self-sacrifice – in today’s self-centred materialistic world, the idea that people can give up their comforts and even their lives for others is radical and strangely attractive.

      If we truly want peace, we need to tell the stories of those who give up their comforts and even their lives for the sake of others in peaceful ways.

      The world needs heroes.

    13. Chris Sullivan April 26, 2010 at 3:56 pm

      The true heroes are Jesus and the martyrs who died rather than use violence and kill, and the conscientious objectors who refused to kill and often suffered terribly for it.

      Archbishop Oscar Romero is an excellent example. He refused to join either side in El Salvador’s civil war and put his own life on the line to non-violently defend his people. He was killed by the army while celebrating Mass:

      Romero was shot by an M-16 assault rifle on March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass at a small chapel located in a hospital called “La Divina Providencia”, one day after a sermon where he had called on Salvadoran soldiers, as Christians, to obey God’s higher order and to stop carrying out the government’s repression and violations of basic human rights. According to an audio-recording of the Mass, he was shot while elevating the chalice at the end of the Eucharistic rite. When he was shot, his blood spilled over the altar.



      God Bless

    14. JoyfulPapist April 26, 2010 at 4:33 pm

      Dear Chris, I am resisting the urge to disagree with you just because your tone sounds sanctimonious to me! Very unchristian of me, and I ask your forgiveness.

      In fact, I do agree entirely that those who resist oppression and violence without resorting to violence themselves are truly heroes. And Romero as one of them, of course.

      I wouldn’t, however, say ‘the true heroes’ as if all others are ‘untrue’ heroes. Self-sacrifice is still self-sacrifice, and the 60,000 Assyrians who survived the 1918 Assyrian Exodus have every right to believe that the small band of Allied defenders who fought for them against tremendous odds are, indeed, heroes.

    15. James the Least April 26, 2010 at 8:09 pm


      In the Catholic list, the commandment “thou shalt not kill” is numbered as the fifth, not the sixth commandment. The sixth is a protestant numbering.

      Sorry, my bad re: 6th and 5th mix-up. I’ve done that a couple of times! *blush*

      The later is a modern protestant translation popular in the USA where war and capital punishment are popular.

      Nope. Sorry. You’ve got your facts a bit mixed up there. While, yes, on one hand, some protestants in the U.S. like to use the translation to support their own causes, your claims that this isn’t the Catholic position aren’t right. Check out this from fisheaters.com – a strong, Catholic apologetics site:

      The Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate (the official Scripture of the Church), and the original Douay-Reims phrase the Fifth Word as “Thou shalt not murder”; later Douay-Reims versions, such as the Challoner, and the King James Bible, etc., phrase it as “Thou shalt not kill.” “Thou shalt not murder,” however, is the original intent and the meaning of the earliest texts. Catholics, of course, have 2,000 years of Church teaching and the Magisterium to interpret Scripture, and the meaning of the Fifth Commandment is that one is not to take innocent life. It doesn’t entail pacifism, ignoring the needs of self-defense and justice, worrying about squashing bugs, etc.

      So, there you go. :) History, and fact all rolled up into one! :)

    16. kiwiatheist April 26, 2010 at 8:22 pm

      I have been wondering recently about the much bandied terms ‘hero’ and ‘brave’. I would submit that those who went to war under a draft system are, in general, neither heroes nor brave – most of them were scared out of their wits or too young to understand the magnitude of what they had volunteered for. The brave and heroic ones are the ones who determine to do something that they know will likely get them killed in the defence of their fellow man or for the cause in which they believe. I would consider Archbishop Romero to be both a hero and to have been brave for what he did, knowing that speaking up for what was right would likely get him killed. Similarly, the man who stood in front of the tank in Tienanmen Square was both brave and a hero for standing up against a regime that was using force to take away the freedom of its peoples.

      I went to war, but was neither hero nor brave. I did nothing to put my life on the line by, for example, charging a machine gun nest that had my colleagues pinned down. No, the words ‘hero’ and ‘brave’ are used interchangeably these days to represent sanctimonious, patronizing platitudes; nobody seems to be able to say a simple ‘thank you’ any more because the words are thought to mean nothing.


    17. fishe April 26, 2010 at 9:20 pm

      So who out of James or Chris is most correct with the definition of the word for kill/murder and it’s usage in the commandment?

      Surely it’s a resolvable question. If a question like that isn’t relatively clear-cut, what hope is there for all the bigger things in the bible…

      (then we’ll move on to “and who cares”)

    18. fishe April 26, 2010 at 9:26 pm


      yeah your post makes sense – the words are overused.

      I guess concepts like brave are placed on those who went to war in a loose retrospective sense – like “the war was so terrible, any one who went was so brave”. And to a certain small extent they were brave just because they went, but it isn’t to say they carried out any specific brave or heroic behaviour.

      For a non-war example, I watched Changeling last night. The pastor in that was brave and heroic for standing up to the corruption of the LAPD.

    19. the blue nun April 26, 2010 at 9:35 pm

      KA: I agree Hero and brave are totally overused as words/concepts. I even heard survivors of the 9/11 attacks being called Hero’s. It would be one thing if they had helped others, risked their own lives, but on one TV show (Ok, I confess it was Oprah, I was bored!) they were definately referring to somebody who had not helped anybody else, and who had been helped by others, and yet she was apparently a hero simply because she survived.

      It seems that the word hero is used any time somebody survives something they had no control over or even simply does their job. True Hero’s are rare but truly inspiring.

      I heard a great quote once, it was something like this: True bravery is not the absence of fear. Its having the courage to face the fear.

    20. fishe April 26, 2010 at 9:56 pm

      I guess it’s a misguided, although generally harmless, way of honouring people who went through the ordeal. Painting a rosier picture of a past event.

      It’s a similar kind of silliness to when Christians proclaim the greatest of God for saving one child when a building collapses killing 16 other children. Retrospective positive analysis.

    21. bamac April 26, 2010 at 10:03 pm


      Christians are not the only ones who celebrate that a child has been saved …. everyone does as we see it on tv news…… it could have been 17 lost.

    22. JoyfulPapist April 27, 2010 at 5:42 am

      Yes, I agree, Blue nun. If there is no fear, there is no need to be brave! Courage is doing what you must do despite the fear.

      KA and fishe, yes – we hear of so many who went to war out of a sense of excitement and adventure. That doesn’t mean they didn’t do heroic things when the time came, but they weren’t heroes for going.

      On the other hand, there are people who face each day with courage – people who choose to stay in circumstances that would defeat the best of us. Two examples that come to mind are St Damian who went to live with the lepers of Molokai knowing it was a death sentence, and St Gianna Molla who chose to reject the hysterectomy that would have saved her life in order to continue her pregnancy. (Also her husband, who supported her through that pregnancy and then raised four children on his own.)

      Single acts of courage are one thing; living under the shadow of death or despair and continuing to not just do what you feel you must, but to do so cheerfully and even joyfully – that’s a hero.

    23. Chris Sullivan April 27, 2010 at 7:21 am


      Genesis 9 gives the reason why it is wrong to kill:-

      For in the image of God has man been made.

      That’s a reason that applies to EVERY human life, including that of the enemy and that of the criminal we are considering executing.

      The religious position (and this includes all religions) is that all human life is sacred because of the presence of God in every human person.

      God Bless

    24. Chris Sullivan April 27, 2010 at 7:45 am


      Wikipedia begs to differ on the translation issue:

      The Vulgate (Latin) translation has Non occides, i.e. “Thou shalt not kill.”

      English translations using “kill” include the King James (Authorised) (1611) [although note Matthew 19:18 “do no murder,” following the Vulgate non homicidium facies], the American Standard (1901) and Revised Standard (American Protestant, 1952) Versions. Almost all Roman Catholic translations, including the Douay-Rheims Bible (1609/1752), the New American Bible (1970), the New Jerusalem Bible (1985) and the Christian Community Bible (1986), have “kill.” Martin Luther (German, 1534) also uses töten (kill).

      Protestant translations using “murder” include the New International Version (American, 1978), New American Standard Bible (American, 1971), New English Bible (British Protestant, 1970), and the New King James (American, 1982), New Revised Standard (American, 1989) and English Standard (American Protestant, 2001) Versions.


      The meaning of the Vulgate Occides is:

      occido (1) -cidere -cidi -cisum [to strike down , beat to the ground; to kill, slay; to plague to death, torment].


      The New Vulgate (the official Latin translation of the Catholic Church) also uses “Non occides”, same as the Jerome Vulgate.

      God Bless

    25. fishe April 27, 2010 at 7:51 am

      It seems like the true meaning of the word and the intention behind it is a completely moot point.

      Another reason why the Bible is, well, pointless. In related news I just came across this well made video of all the contradictions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB3g6mXLEKk


      Yeah good point. We all do it, Christians just frame it in a certain way.

    26. el wardo April 27, 2010 at 8:46 am

      Hi Fishe,

      Re #17, yes it is a resolvable question, but it has been debated on BF several times in the past, which I think is why no one is raising it against Chris here. If you did a google search in Being Frank for just war or fifth commandment you’d come up with a number of posts that go over it.

      The Catechism is the first place to go to for Catholic teaching:

      2261 Scripture specifies the prohibition contained in the fifth commandment: “Do not slay the innocent and the righteous.”61 The deliberate murder of an innocent person is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human being, to the golden rule, and to the holiness of the Creator. The law forbidding it is universally valid: it obliges each and everyone, always and everywhere.

      The whole section on the fifth commandment (2258-2330) is worth a read if you have the time

    27. JoyfulPapist April 27, 2010 at 8:55 am

      Interesting article on Jewish thinking about the commandment: http://people.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/Shokel/001102_ThouShaltNotMurder.html

      It makes the point that the original meaning of the word relates to deliberately or through carelessness bringing about the death of a human being, but excludes judicial executions and killing enemy warriors. However, it says that Jewish thought has developed to a broader understanding – as has Christian thought.

      Jesus, of course, took it further – you shall not harbour anger!

    28. fishe April 27, 2010 at 9:02 am

      el wardo,

      But wouldn’t I be right in thinking “who cares what the Catechism says, let’s look at the original source documents in the original languages”

    29. JoyfulPapist April 27, 2010 at 9:07 am

      fishe, it depends on whether you think Catholic or protestant.

    30. muerk April 27, 2010 at 9:11 am

      Fishe – That’s what the Catechism will be based on.

      JP – I agree about the anger, and that’s where it gets hard :)

    31. fishe April 27, 2010 at 9:14 am

      I think “let’s try and get to the bottom of this.”

      But you’re right. This all highlights the inherent subjectivity and interpretation in anything bible-based. Like religion in general, it isn’t about the cold hard facts.

    32. Scary White Conservative with a Banjo April 27, 2010 at 9:49 am

      “But you’re right. This all highlights the inherent subjectivity and interpretation in anything bible-based. Like religion in general, it isn’t about the cold hard facts.”


      Spoken like someone who doesn’t actually know much about Scriptural exegesis and hermeneutics, and the sound scholarship which underpins the orthodox Catholic schools of both.

    33. Chris Sullivan April 27, 2010 at 10:51 am


      It makes the point that the original meaning of the word relates to deliberately or through carelessness bringing about the death of a human being, but excludes judicial executions

      That is not quite correct.

      Numbers 35:30 (see my post #1 above) uses the word ratsach for judicial execution, as the article you linked to points out :-

      Don Isaac Abravanel and others noted that ratsah is employed in Numbers 35:27-30 both when dealing with an authorized case of blood vengeance, and with capital punishment–neither of which falls under the legal category of murder.

      In fact, some distinguished Jewish philosophers believed that “thou shalt not kill” is a perfectly accurate rendering of the sixth commandment. Maimonides, for example, wrote that all cases of killing human beings involve violations of the command, even if the violation happens to be overridden by other mitigating factors. It has been suggested that this tradition underlies the virtual elimination of capital punishment in Rabbinic law.

      Maimonides is on the ball here and that is recognised in the modern ArtScroll translations (an orthodox Jewish publishing house close to the Talmudic tradition) which translate the commandment as “do not kill”.

      It is simply incorrect to translate ratsach as murder, unless one includes capital punishment as murder.

      The Talmudic Rabbis taught that killing one human person was as bad as killing the whole world.

      God Bless

    34. Benedicta April 27, 2010 at 11:13 am

      Just a few comments re ratsach (Hebrew).

      It means murder, slay. It does not mean Capital Punishment!!!

      In Numbers 35:30 I disagree that it is used as capital punishment but rather describes the one being put to death. The one guilty of murder. The action to describe the putting to death (capital punishment) in Numbers 35:30 is another word mot which has more than one meaning associated with killing. One of which means (and in this instance) ‘to die as a penalty, to put to death’.

      So the Decalogue injunction on killing is not about self defense, capital punishment and so on but about what we call murder with intent.

      This statement below is confusing, as the Catechism clearly spells out what killing does not mean, and concurs with the Hebrew meaning. Whether murder or killing is used it doesn’t matter as the interpretation is clear.

      The Catechism of the Catholic Church, and English language Catholic bibles for centuries, translate this commandment as “thou shalt not kill”, not “thou shalt not murder”. The later is a modern protestant translation popular in the USA where war and capital punishment are popular.

      How it is all interpreted in light of the Gospel is another matter.

    35. Chris Sullivan April 27, 2010 at 11:31 am

      Wilma Ann Bailey wrote a book about the modern change to translate ratsach as “murder”.

      Here are some reviews by prominent scripture scholars.

      “This book is a careful, critical study of how and why the commandment ‘You shall not kill’ became in most modern translations, ‘You shall not murder.’ Bailey’s analysis of the verb’s thirteen occurrences in the OT does not justify the change, nor is the appeal to the larger ‘killing’ tradition in the OT persuasive. Sobering indeed is the fact that only the translations of the Roman Catholic Church, global in identity, have resisted the changing nation-state cultural ethos of the last half-century that exempts killing in war and capital punishment from this command, while Evangelicals, mainline Protestants, and Jews have accommodated. For Bible translators, expositors, or teachers of the Decalogue, this is priority reading.”
      -Willard M. Swartley, Professor Emeritus of New Testament, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries, Elkhart, Indiana

      “This is a powerful and prophetic denunciation of unnecessary taking of human life, based on a fresh and convincing study of the commandment, ‘You shall not kill.’ The author argues that the recent decision to translate ‘murder’ is not only erroneous but that it is damaging to those communities, Jewish and Christian, for which biblical texts carry special authority. Brief chapters on the several groupings of Christians and on Judaism seek to demonstrate and support the charge. Given today’s war on violence and the actions that have precipitated it, is it not unfortunate indeed that many English translations of the commandment against killing have opted for the translation, ‘You shall not murder’?”
      -Walter Harrelson, Professor Emeritus, Vanderbilt University Divinity School, Adjunct University Professor, Wake Forest University

      “Bailey’s thoughtful analysis provides close reflection on the sixth commandment and disputes the translation “murder.” She shows how the change from “kill” to “murder” in translation is ideologically led by a desire to legitimate war that is surely “killing” if not “murder.” Bailey carries her analysis to connect with different translation in different church traditions. The implications of her study are enormous for ethical reflection in the midst of ideological fervor. I regard her book as a model of clarity and sound method that merits close attention.”
      -Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary


      You can read the first part of her book online for free at


      Willard M. Swartley’s comment that only the Catholic Church has resisted this mis-translation trend is very pertinent.

      God Bless

    36. Chris Sullivan April 27, 2010 at 11:35 am


      If you go here


      You will see that the exact same word, ratsach, is used for the original murder and for the death penalty (“shall be put to death”) meeted out to the original murderer.

      Muwth is used at the end of the passage (“to cause him to die”).

      God Bless

    37. Benedicta April 27, 2010 at 7:16 pm


      mot is not used at the end of the passage and nor is it in that tense. ratsach refers to the one up for the capital punishment.

      Sorry bud I didn’t learn Hebrew off the internet!

      Anyway for the interpretations of that Commandment the Catechism spells is out.

    38. Benedicta April 27, 2010 at 8:45 pm


      em>mot is not used at the end of the passage

      I’ll correct myself YES it is at the end of the verse. Reading backwards gets you screwed up!

      The literal Hebrew Numbers 35:30 reads:

      Anyone who strikes/smites/hits (macah – one who is hitting etc a participle)a person, on the testimony of witnesses,he is murdered the murdering one,(the last two are both ratsach), but one witness is not eye witness/testimony to kill (mot)a person.

      So here are THREE words meaning violence, necha, ratsach and mot. though ratsach means to slay or murder (Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch etymology 19th century). Mot – Brown Driver Briggs (THE authority for word meaning), the only one with an additional meaning of capital punishment.

      Make of it what you will! A fun language.

    39. Chris Sullivan April 28, 2010 at 7:18 am

      Here’s Rabbi Steinsaltz’s commentary on today’s Talmud reading, teaching that one may not kill to save one’s own life (which Aquinas also taught).


      God Bless

    40. Don the Kiwi April 28, 2010 at 7:25 am

      Once again Chris, you give a slanted example that does not refer to self defence, but rather refusing to obey a command to kill another person who has not attacked you, neither is it during warfare.

      I would be interested to get the reference from Aquinas you speak of.

    41. Chris Sullivan April 28, 2010 at 9:36 am


      I think that the Talmud’s point here is certainly relevant to self defence :

      “Who says that your blood is redder than his? Perhaps his blood is redder than yours.”

      There are various ways to interpret this saying, but two of them are that ALL human life is sacred (blood being seen scripturally as the essence of life) and that who are we to judge that taking one life is any better than allowing our own to be taken (which has deep repercussions if considered in the light of Calvary).

      I would also point out that the Turks defending Gallipoli had not attacked any New Zealanders. Our invasion of Turkey was pure imperial agression. So this would be a case akin to that the Talmud was discussing – where conscript ANZAC soldiers were forced to invade and kill.

      God Bless

    42. Chris Sullivan April 28, 2010 at 9:37 am


      Aquinas taught it was unlawful to intend to kill another in self defense unless one had public authority. He taught that if one accidentally killed in self defense then that was not morally imputable.

      ST 2-2, q. 64, a. 7.

      But as it is unlawful to take a man’s life, except for the public authority acting for the common good, as stated above (A[3]), it is not lawful for a man to intend killing a man in self-defense, except for such as have public authority, who while intending to kill a man in self-defense, refer this to the public good, as in the case of a soldier fighting against the foe, and in the minister of the judge struggling with robbers, although even these sin if they be moved by private animosity.


      Article 4 of Q64 is relevant too, where Aquinas teaches it is unlawful for clerics to kill:

      I answer that, It is unlawful for clerics to kill, for two reasons. First, because they are chosen for the ministry of the altar, whereon is represented the Passion of Christ slain “Who, when He was struck did not strike [Vulg.: ‘When He suffered, He threatened not’]” (1 Pet. 2:23). Therefore it becomes not clerics to strike or kill: for ministers should imitate their master, according to Ecclus. 10:2, “As the judge of the people is himself, so also are his ministers.” The other reason is because clerics are entrusted with the ministry of the New Law, wherein no punishment of death or of bodily maiming is appointed: wherefore they should abstain from such things in order that they may be fitting ministers of the New Testament.


      As we are all called to holiness, and to imitate our master, it clear that the reasons which Aquinas advances against clerics killing apply not just to clercis, but to all Christians.

      God Bless

    43. Don the Kiwi April 28, 2010 at 12:09 pm



      I take your point about the Talmudic expression regarding the value of one’s blood to another. I suppose though, that if, in self defence you restrained the person you did not need to kill him – but if you went ahead and killed, then you are culpable.
      Fair enough.

      I think this carries to your #42 also – in that in self defence, one should not intend to kill the person who is the agressor – but if that is the only option, restraint being impossible, then it is his life or yours. It would be legit. to kill him.

      I agree with you WRT clerics should not kill.

      Our invasion of Turkey was pure imperial agression

      Not so. The British had asked the Turks to join the allied forces to resist the German agression. The Germans actually paid Turkey to join them against the allies, and were engaging the Russian forces to the north (the Russians being allies in WW1). The british were attempting to get supplies to the Russians via the Black Sea, but the Turks prevented them. The invasion of the Gallipoli peninsular was to attempt to open up the Dardennelles so that the Russians could be supplied. The invasion was an action of a declared war – hardly imperial agression. When the Turks were eventually defeated, their country was handed back after redefinig some borders. That is when the Turks slaughtered the Armenians and the Assyrians – a slaughter to claim their land – in other words, Turkish Imperialism.

      Had the British been successful, who knows – there may not have been a Russian revolution in 1917; there may not have been the slaughter of Armenians and Assyrians; there may not have been the Balkan wars; there may not have been WW 2 – history could have been very different.

      Remember also that the Ottoman Empire – Turkey – had been for the previous five centuries carrying out murderous invasions against the Christian countries to their north and west. I reckon they finally got their come-uppance.

      Under Kemal Attaturk, Turkey became a secular state, dominated by Islam, but with rights to Turkish Christians. Shame about the Assyrians and Armenians.

    44. dave morgan April 28, 2010 at 3:05 pm


      howdy doody cobbers

      so let me understand this properly

      the commandment means no killing whatsoever
      God commands them to kill throughout the OT
      the Maccabees are considered as heroes in the Jewish tradition

      so, God has contradicted Himself, and didn’t really mean that they should follow the 10 commandments?

      And the Maccabees are actually Lawbreakers, and unfaithful Jews?


      not quite sure what to think


      we have actually misunderstood what the commandment is about, and in fact, it’s only about a certain type of killing…maybe that is it??

      maybe, its talking about unjust killing??

      i’m still going to ponder this one