Of all of the ten commandments that God gave to Moses on the mountain the sixth commandment was changed from the original Hebrew text “You shall not murder” to you shall not kill in the KJV. The Jewish sages note that the word “ratsakh” applies only to illegal killing, premeditated murder or manslaughter referencing back to Cain’s murder of Able and is never used in the administration of justice or for killing in war. Hence the KJV translation as “thou shalt not kill” is too broad and incorrectly translated from the original Hebrew. Pacifists love to cite the King James version because it gives them comfort in not feeling obligated to defend themselves, their country or others in time of need. The New King James Version has rightly changed it back to the original intent translating it properly as “You shall not murder!”
Once beyond the desert on the far side of the Jordan River Joshua was leading the Hebrew Nation, they commenced slaughtering all of the nations that inhabited the land there.
(Joshua 10: 40) “So Joshua defeated the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded.”
If we were to read the sixth commandment in the context of the King James Version “Thou shall not kill” we would immediately assume that God has a double standard concerning the taking of another person’s life however that is not the case as God is not the author of confusion.
Another well known example of justifiable killing occurred during the reign of King Saul. The Israelites were engaged in a war with the Philistines on whose side was a fearsome giant warrior named Goliath who was the champion of the Philistines and who taunted Saul and his army for many days. David a young shepherd boy, the youngest son of Jesse came forth and was so incensed by the rantings of Goliath that he took up the giant’s challenge.
(1 Samuel 17: 48 - 54) “When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone, and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.
So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine, and killed him; there was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine, and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath, and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Sha-ara′im as far as Gath and Ekron. And the Israelites came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armor in his tent.”
(David went on to kill tens of thousands of the enemies of Israel with God’s approval and became king of Israel enjoying a long reign.)
The reason for citing these two of the many biblical references to justifiable killings is to dispel the notion that many have concerning the true meaning of the sixth commandment, “you shall not murder” as opposed to the King James version of “you shall not kill,” as there is a world of difference in the meaning between the two statements. The following is an extreme example of misguided interpretation of the commandment: If some miscreant suddenly broke into a man’s house, slit the throats of his children then raped and murdered the man’s wife before his eyes and the homeowner refused to take action citing the perverse notion that he was constrained by scripture from killing the miscreant he would then become morally and spiritually culpable for abdicating his obligation as head of his household to protect his family.