Monday, August 5, 2013

The Trayvon Martin Controversy and Biblical Justice: Part 3: Sanctuary/Incitement to Murder/Slander

The biblical concept of refuge/sanctuary should apply
to George Zimmerman, whose life is endangered by
lawless vigilantes seeking "justice."

by Steve C. Halbrook
posts in this series (part 1part 2part 3part 4)

We continue our series on the Trayvon Martin controversy and biblical justice by covering the state's role in protecting individuals from vigilantes, as well as its role in punishing public slander and incitement to murder.

Protection from vigilante justice

What is a man like Zimmerman to do when his life is endangered because of racial demagoguery? How can he be protected?

Perhaps we can extract principles from the passages in Scripture about cities of refuge (Deuteronomy 19:1-13; Numbers 35). While some aspects of these passages deal strictly with Israel (e. g., the cities belong to Levites), other aspects deal with situations relevant to all nationssuch as the need of a safe haven for those endangered by avengers seeking their life. 

The concept of refuge/sanctuary has a rich history in Christian societies, and dates back to the days of the early church: 
The practice of allowing Christian churches to extend rights of protection to criminals and fugitives within their precincts is said to date from the time of Constantine's Edict of Toleration, 313 A. D. Undoubtedly the introduction of Christianity as the state religion, which soon followed, wrought a great change in regard to the right of asylum. The protection afforded by the Christian churches was greater than that given by imperial law to temples and statues. The custom of resorting to churches soon became well established in cases of wrongdoing, for when, in 392 A. D., Theodosius the Great made a law concerning church asylum, it was to explain and regulate the privilege. 
Fifty years later another Theodosius, the Younger, made a new law by which the then existing privilege was extended from the altar and nave of the church to the buildings, courts, and parts adjacent, contained within the walls. An enactment of a temporary nature excepted the Isaurian robbers from the privilege. The constitutions of Theodosius the Younger were confirmed by Pope Leo I., with the added provision that the steward and advocate of the church should act as inquisitors and examine all persons seeking asylum and then take action on the evidence produced.
The early Christian Church was strongly opposed to the shedding of blood and ready to do all in its power to prevent violence which might result in bloodshed. Thus the clergy speedily became the great  intermediaries between criminals and those who desired vengeance, and acted as ambassadors of mercy before the throne of justice. Fugitives who had taken refuge in Christian churches were interceded for, slaves fleeing from cruel masters were protected, unfortunate debtors in danger of imprisonment were allowed temporary shelter until a compromise could be reached. All this, no doubt, besides tempering the administration of public and private law, increased the reverence for human life in the popular mind and associated the Church and religion with ideas of sanctity and mercy.[1] 
The concept of refuge/sanctuary is a crucial aspect of a humane society; societies that highly value it naturally highly value human life. 

Now, how can the concept of sanctuary apply to Zimmerman? While we don't think church buildings are practical in Zimmerman's situation, here are some ideas:

  • The state can provide Zimmerman with physical protection in a safe location with bodyguards. He would have reasonable freedom of movement.
  • Perhaps something like the witness protection program would be appropriate; within this setting, Zimmerman would be able to get a new start in a new location with a new identity. (Naturally, since he is a public figure, he would have to change his appearance.)
  • Zimmerman can be secretly relocated to a country where he is unknown and can live without fear of reprisals. 

Given the large degree of animosity against Zimmerman, the second and third choices are the most realistic. Whether the state is willing to provide some form of adequate sanctuary is an open question.

Unfortunately, we cannot expect much from our current society in matters of biblical sanctuary. Ours is a society that highly devalues lifewith the most obvious example being abortion. If our society is unwilling to protect the unbornits most helpless membersthen no one is safe. Only by a return to Christianity can we expect to return to a reverence for human life that is conducive to biblical sanctuary.

The concept of sanctuary has a rich history in Christian societies;
unfortunately, as our society becomes progressively apostate,
human life devalues, and sanctuary along with it. 

How the state should deal with public slander and incitement to murder

Either directly or indirectly, the Bible speaks to every conceivable situationwhich includes every civil situation. How do we know? Because Scripture says,
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) (emphasis mine)
However, gleaning principles for some situations can be difficult. The Bible is a very large book. As such, discovering doctrines that the Bible speaks to explicitly can sometimes be challenging enough. And discovering doctrines that the Bible only speaks to implicitly can be even more challenging. Either way requires careful thought and study.

And when it comes to the current topic of discussion, namely, what is the state's biblical role when it comes to public slander and inciting to murder, I will say at the outset that I do not claim to have all the answers. So, I will propose possibilities on what the state should do, and leave it to more knowledgeable students of Scripture to propose better solutions. Perhaps this will at least help to spark further thought and discussion on the very important matter of the applicability of God's law to society.

Punishing incitement to murder

What is the appropriate biblical response of civil rulers to those who incite murder, such as in the Trayvon Martin controversy, where some have encouraged the murder of George Zimmerman?

If in fact someone is murdered, and it can be shown that the murderer was influenced by someone inciting him to murder, then it seems the latter should be considered a party to murder, and it would be appropriate for him to receive the death penalty (per Genesis 9:5, 6). 

One can indeed share in the guilt of murder without carrying out the crime physically. Ezekiel Hopkins lists several ways that one can be an accessory to murder:
By arranging Uriah's death, King David
was guilty of murder, even though he did
not shed Uriah's blood personally.
(1)  Those who command or counsel it to be done. Thus, David became guilty of the murder of innocent Uriah; and God, in drawing up his charge, accuseth him with it: “Thou hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon” (2Sa 12:9). 
(2) Those who consent to murder are guilty of it.   Thus Pilate, for yielding to the clamorous outcries of the Jews, “Crucify him, Crucify him” (Luk 23:21), though he washed his hands and disavowed the fact, was as much guilty as those who nailed Him to the cross. 
(3) He that concealeth a murder is guilty of it. Therefore, we read that in case a man were found slain and the murderer unknown, the elders of that city were to assemble, wash their hands, and protest “Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it” (Deu 21:6-7), intimating that if they had seen and concealed it, they had thereby become guilty of the murder.   
(4) Those who are in authority and do not punish a murder, when committed and known, are themselves guilty of it. Thus, when Naboth was condemned to die by the wicked artifice of Jezebel—although Ahab knew nothing of the contrivance until after the execution—yet, because he did not vindicate that innocent blood when he came to the knowledge of it, the prophet chargeth it upon him. “Hast thou killed, and also taken possession?” (1Ki 21:19). The guilt lay upon him, and the punishment due to it overtook him, although we do not read that he was any otherwise guilty of it than in not punishing those who had committed it.  
And those magistrates who, upon any respect whatsoever, suffer a murder to escape unpunished are said to pollute the land with blood: “Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death…So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it ” (Num 35:31, 33).[2]
Granted, there are various degrees of being an accessory to murder. But I would think that at least the first and second instances would warrant the same penalty as the murderer himself should get.[3] 

But what about a case where someone incites to murder, but either no party tries to actually commit the murder, or a party attempts the murder, but fails? Does the death penalty apply here?

Tony Konvalin made this interesting observation: 
While not a biblical observation, it has always seemed to me that by not holding one to the same punishment as if a crime was completed as intended seems to be rewarding unsuccessful, or inept, criminals.[4] 
He makes a good point about rewarding unsuccessful criminals. And, perhaps his line of thinking is biblical. First, we must consider the previous examples given of those who do not perform the actual murder, but share in its guilt for commanding, counseling, or consenting to it (examples one and two). 

And if they share in the guilt for a murder that is successfully carried out, we must wonder if they also share in the guilt (as far as the state is concerned) if it is not successfully carried out. The only difference in these situations is in the other partythe person who actually attempts the murder (either successfully or unsuccessfully). (Could another difference, however, be that the land has more bloodguilt when a murder is actually carried out, hence requiring of it a greater penalty than when it is not carried out? We are not sure ...)

But, unless I'm missing something, I'm not sure the success of the one who actually tries to perform the murder should have any bearing on whether the state should punish (with death) the one inciting to murder. If the state should punish the one who incites the murder when the one who tries to carry out the murder is successful, then it seems the state should still punish the one who incites the murder when the one who tries to carry out the murder is unsuccessful. (The death penalty for both incitement to murder and attempted murder is not without historical precedent.)[5]

Otherwise, we would have a situation where someone is punished for the sins of another; namely, the one who incites the murder would be punished for the sins of the one who successfully carries it out. Each person should be punished for his own sin: the inciter (regardless of the success of the one who actually tries to carry out the murder, since the sin of inciting to murder is not contingent upon what another person does) and the one who attempts to carry our the murder. As Scripture says, 
Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.(Deuteronomy 24:16)
(And if in this scenario the one who incites to murder should be executed even when the one who attempts the actual murder fails, should not the latter be executed also? After all, if attempted murder in and of itself—regardless of success—on the part of the inciter warrants capital punishment, then should not attempted murder—regardless of success—on the part of the aggressor likewise warrant capital punishment? Otherwise, we have a situation contrary to Scripture where the law shows favoritism. If a failed murder attempt warrants capital punishment in Party A (the inciter), then a failed murder attempt warrants capital punishment in Part B (the aggressor).  

Second, Konvalin's earlier observation about criminal intent is indeed biblical in matters of false witness in the courtroom setting. Here the Bible requires the same punishment of malicious witnesses who don't succeed in harming the accused as those who do succeed:
Murderous vigilantism tends to be
fueled by those who incite murder.
As promoters of murder - such as
those who promote the murder of
George Zimmerman - perhaps inciters
of murder should be capitally-
punished by the state.
If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you.  Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Deuteronomy 19:16-21)
Notice here that  the lex talionis (eye for eye principle) does not limit itself to a crime someone has fully carried out against another. For instance, when a malicious witness falsely accuses someone of murder in the hope that the state will find him guilty and execute him, that false witness is to be legally treated as a murderer even if his scheme is discovered before the accused would be found guilty and executed. The text reads “if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother” (emphasis mine). "Meant" is a word for intention, and intents are prior to actions—both successful and unsuccessful actions alike. 

So here in the courtroom setting the lex talionis applies not just to criminal acts, but to criminal intents. Attempted murder, for example, is treated as actual murderinsofar that its guilt warrants the same punishment.

Now, the question becomes whether the principles of Deuteronomy 19:16-21 extend beyond just the courtroom. The reason we think it might is that criminal intent in and of itself seems to be the basis for the punishmentirrespective of it occurring in the courtroom setting: “if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. … It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth …” In other words, the wording solely links the deserving of punishment with being a malicious false witness; and one can be guilty of this in any setting. (Vern S. Poythress also holds that this text implies punishment for criminal intent outside the courtroom.)[6]

Moreover, the lex talionis—which is applied hereapplies to all crimes against biblical civil lawwhether they occur in the court setting or not (Exodus 21:22-25; Leviticus 24:17-22; Deuteronomy 19:16-21). 

We are though open to being wrong on this; maybe there is something here implicitly attached to the court process that the punishment considers. Some might hold that the sanction is due to a major denigration of God's justice, in that bearing false witness shows contempt for the God-ordained court system, and thus merits a stronger-than-usual punishment.

However, there are Scripture texts that support the idea that even beyond the courtroom, criminal intent in and of itself warrants punishment (at least in regards to certain crimes); and there are also Scripture texts that may imply that criminal intent in and of itself warrants punishment for crime in generalor at least in regards to attempted murder:

  • In some cases beyond the courtroom, criminal intent alone clearly warrants punishment. Deuteronomy 13 tells us that the very attempt to draw people away from God—regardless of its success—is a capital offense (this is a case of attempted spiritual murder). And in Nehemiah 13, when merchants lodged outside Jerusalem with the obvious intent of entering the city on the Sabbath to engage in commerce, Nehemiah threatened to punish them if they did so again (v. 21).
  • We have already given examples by Ezekiel Hopkins where one can have the blood guilt of murder without having committed the actual murder. (Granted, there are degrees of bloodguilt.)
  • Deuteronomy 19 and Numbers 35 distinguish between murder and unintentional killing. The penalty for murder is capital punishment; the penalty for accidental killing is confinement to a city of refuge until the high priest dies (this is not completely a punishment, though, as it is also a means of protection from those seeking vengeance). But note that the deciding factor here as to whether a killer deserves capital punishment is intent. Thus, while these particular Scriptures do not touch on criminal intent alone (since they describe the actual murder being physically carried out), it is still worth considering whether criminal intent was the actual, sole basis for punishment. 
  • The biblical doctrine of self-defense (Exodus 22:2) allows for killing assailants in order to preserve one's life. This seems analogous to the notion that the state should execute those guilty of attempted murder; just as attempted murder forfeits one's right to live when he is in the process of trying to carry out the crime, attempted murder forfeits one's right to live in a court of law. Said another way, if attempted murder allows the intended victim to inflict capital punishment on the aggressor (only when necessary in the course of the crime, of course), then why wouldn't attempted murder warrant the state to inflict capital punishment on the aggressor as well? Perhaps then the biblical doctrine of self-defense assumes that attempted murder in and of itself warrants capital punishment. 
  • In the book of Esther, King Ahasuerus executed two eunuchs for a plot to lay hands on him (Esther 2:21-23), as well as Haman for a plot to annihilate the Jews (Esther 7:3-10). And yet the book of Esther does not condemn these executions for plots that were not carried out.
Here we have given some thoughts that we believe are worth considering. We believe it could very well be that criminal intent for any crime warrants punishmenteven the same punishment that one would receive had he carried out the crime successfully. We could be wrong; perhaps this at best applies in just some scenarios. 

If it is in fact the case that criminal intent warrants the same punishment as having carried out the crime—or if at least this is the case in attempted murderthen in a biblical society, those who incite murder (such as inciting the murder of Zimmerman) would be subject to the death penalty by the state.

Punishing public slander

Civil rulers should punish
revilings, which are "the
beginnings of murder,
provocations to it, and
indications of murderous
hearts." -- Matthew Poole
According to Deuteronomy 19:16-21, in a courtroom setting a malicious witness who slanders the accused is subject to punishment by the state. 

But what about someone outside the courtroom who maligns another’s character, such as in the Trayvon Martin controversy, where many have called George Zimmerman a murderer without proof?

A good passage to begin with is Matthew 5:22:
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
For Matthew Poole, this passage requires civil rulers to suppress slander, which fosters quarrels and bloodshed. Writing in the context on what he believes to be the most probable meaning of the text, he says:
[B]y the judgment is meant the judgment of God; by the council and hell fire, not only the judgment and vengeance of God, but the judgments and punishments that are inflicted in the courts of men, that are magistrates, and bear not the sword in vain: so as the sense is this: I say unto you, that if a man doth but in his heart nourish wrath and anger against another without a just cause, and lets it grow up into malice, and thoughts and desires of private revenge, though he be not by it obnoxious to courts of justice, who can only determine upon overt acts, yet he is accountable to God. and liable to his judgment: but if men suffer their passions to break out into reviling terms and language, such as Raca, (signifying a vain person,) or, Thou fool, (speaking this from anger or malice,) they are not only liable to the eternal vengeance of God, compared to the fire of Gehenna, but ought to be subjected to the punishment of the civil magistrate. Every civil government being by the law of God, in order to the prevention of quarrels or bloodshed, (which often followeth revilings of each other.) obliged to punish such offences, as being the beginnings of murder, provocations to it, and indications of murderous hearts, hearts full of that which in the eye of God is murder.[7]
Another passage to consider is King David's words in Psalm 101:5:
Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.
Matthew Henry understands this passage as advocating civil punishment for slander:
Many endeavour to raise themselves into the favour of princes by unjust representations of persons and things, which they think will please their prince. If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked, Prov. 29:12 . But David will not only not hearken to them, but will prevent the preferment of those that hope thus to curry favour with him: he will punish not only him that falsely accuses another in open court, but him that privily slanders another.[8]
In Psalm 101:5 does King David literally advocate the execution of slanderers? We are not sure, but if he does, he surely doesn't mean that slander always deserves the death penalty. After all, Deuteronomy 19:18, 19 (which we are about to cover) requires malicious false witnesses to be punished in proportion to what they intend to do to their victims—which might be the death penaltybut only in the more heinous instances. 

Perhaps then if David has in mind executing slanderers, it is for those who slander in the most serious matters. He might also have in mind incorrigible, unrepentant slanderers. There is a Scripture that requires the execution of the incorrigible, rebellious son (Deuteronomy 21:18-21); if this law implies that the state should execute incorrigible criminals in general, then those who persist in slandering others even in "minor" matters might deserve the death penalty.

Moreover, when considering whether slander outside the courtroom should be punishedand how it should be punishedDeuteronomy 19:18b-19a could have relevance: 
[I]f the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother.
While the passage is written in the context of a courtroom setting, Vern S. Poythress holds (just as we have earlier when discussing incitement to murder) that this sanction applies just as much outside the courtroom setting:
In the Mosaic law an act of false witnessing, if proven, receives the same penalty that would have fallen to the person witnessed against (Deut. 19:16-21). This penal structure is a simple embodiment of the principle of just reciprocity; hence it should have the same form today. Slander and libel outside the context of courtroom testimony can be handled on the same basis. If malicious intent to do harm is proved, the slanderer must repay for damage already caused and pay a second amount as punishment for intent to do harm. If no evil intent is involved, single restoration is appropriate as in the case of unintentional damage to another person’s property (Exod. 22:5-6).[9]
Therefore, assuming that Deuteronomy 19:18b-19a also applies to circumstances beyond the courtroom, then according to this text maligning one’s character in any setting warrants punishment. Such a crime would warrant various degrees of punishments, depending on the slander's damage to the victim, and the intent of the slanderer.

In the case of slandering Zimmerman as a murderer, perhaps, at the very least, the offender should pay monetary restitution. After all, the Bible requires restitution for matters extremely minor compared to the losses endured by Zimmerman. For instance, the Bible requires paying owners restitution for the theft of even their most minor and inexpensive property. And the permanent vilification of character is much more severe than the loss of property, which is replaceable.  

King David "will punish not
only him that falsely accuses
another in open court, but
him that privily slanders
another." -- Matthew Henry
Although in the case of Zimmerman, there are ramifications for property loss as well. Zimmerman is now, possibly for the rest of his life, unable to be as productive as he otherwise would be, since, due to hatred of him and death threats against him, he has to live practically as a fugitive. Getting a job and living a normal life will not be easy.

Another Scripture to consider in regards to punishing slander is Deuteronomy 22, which deals with a situation where a husband falsely accuses his wife of misconduct:
Then the elders of that city shall take the man and whip him, and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name upon a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife. He may not divorce her all his days. (Deut. 22:18, 19)
While this deals with slander within the context of marriage, perhaps the text assumes that slander in general must be punished. Note that the reason for the punishment is "because he has brought a bad name upon a virgin of Israel"; perhaps then this a particular application of a general principle that says that bringing a bad name on anyone requires punishment by the state.

Note, too, that this passage advocates restitution and flogging as punishments for slander. We previously discussed restitution as a plausible punishment for slanderers in general; and flogging as a punishment for slanderers in general likewise seems plausible. Regarding flogging, Deuteronomy 25:1-3 describes a case law where judges arbitrate between men in a dispute.  If the judges deem the guilty man worthy of flogging, he must receive stripes proportionate to the offense (up to 40 stripes). In this case law punishing slanderers is not specified, but it could be implied, since the text deals with disputes between menand slander is a major cause of disputes. 

Moreover, Proverbs encourages the flogging of fools:
On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense. (Proverbs 10:13)
Condemnation is ready for scoffers, and beating for the backs of fools. (Proverbs 19:29)
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools. (Proverbs 26:3)
On Proverbs 26:3, Matthew Henry writes,
Here, 1. Wicked men are compared to the horse and the ass, so brutish are they, so unreasonable, so unruly, and not to be governed but by force or fear, so low has sin sunk men, so much below themselves. Man indeed is born like the wild ass’s colt, but as some by the grace of God are changed, and become rational, so others by custom in sin are hardened, and become more and more sottish, as the horse and the mule, Ps. 32:9 . Direction is given to use them accordingly. Princes, instead of giving honour to a fool (v. 1), must put disgrace upon him—instead of putting power into his hand, must exercise power over him. A horse unbroken needs a whip for correction, and an ass a bridle for direction and to check him when he would turn out of the way; so a vicious man, who will not be under the guidance and restraint of religion and reason, ought to be whipped and bridled, to be rebuked severely, and made to smart for what he has done amiss, and to be restrained from offending any more.[10]
It seems then that in light of the aforementioned texts from Proverbs, flogging should at least apply to the unrepentant slanderer—one whom would be classified as a "fool." 

And so in the case of the Trayvon Martin controversy, perhaps civil rulers should require those who slander George Zimmerman to pay Zimmerman restitution, and/or be subjected to flogging. 

Surely the incorrigible slanderers—the fools—should be flogged. And if they still don't learn, perhaps they should be purged from society via execution per the principles of the law about the incorrigible, rebellious son (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). Likewise, if anyone slanders Zimmerman with murderous intent, then perhaps, per Deuteronomy 19:18, 19, the state should execute that slandererand remove the evil from society permanently

In part four, we plan to cover the church's role in the Trayvon Martin controversy


[1] Norman Maclaren Trenholme, The University of Missouri Studies: Volume I: Number 5: The Right of Sanctuary in England: A Study in Institutional History, ed., Frank Thilly (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri, 1903), 7, 8.
[2] Ezekiel Hopkins, "Thou Shalt Not Kill," in Free Grace Broadcaster, ed. Jeff Pollard, Summer 2012, no. 220: 2, 3.
[3] In King David's case, some might ask why David was not executed for ordering Uriah's murder. We must keep in mind that the Bible requires two or three witnesses willing to testify against someone in order for there to be a trial and conviction. And on top of this, in David's case, there is the question of whether God—Who personally dealt with David on this matterwas willing to make an exception for him even if witnesses were willing to testify against him.
[4] May 9, 2012, Facebook
[5] In the context of discussing how fairy tales reflected cultural values, Sheldon Cashdan covers capital punishments in the middle ages for inciting murder and attempted murder:
Soliciting murder and actual attempted murder—crimes performed by the stepmother in Snow White—were offenses historically punished by a fiery death, symbolically depicted in Snow White by the witch being forced to dance to her death in red-hot shoes. Death by drowning, the fate suffered by the mother-in-law in Perrault's The Sleeping Beauty, was also commonly used to punish attempted murder as well as other heinous crimes. And stoning to death—a punishment recorded in Germany during the Middle Ages—has its counterpart in The Juniper Tree, in which the stepmother is crushed to death for inciting murder and fostering cannibalism. Sheldon CashdanThe Witch Must Die: The Hidden Meaning of Fairy Tales (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1999), 144.
[6] Vern S. Poythress writes, 
What should we say about cases of attempted murder? The Mosaic law does not speak directly concerning the penalty for attempted murder, perhaps because it is difficult in many cases for judges to determine that a particular crime is attempted murder in distinction from attempt to cause serious injury (Exod. 21:18-19, 23-25). This case is therefore more doubtful in character. Deut. 19:16-21 seems to indicate that the intention to do a thing, if legally demonstrable, constitutes guilt on the same level as the actual doing of it. On this basis I deduce that attempted murder deserves the death penalty. As I have already observed, in this and other cases the maximum penalty is to be enforced only when (a) the crime is legally demonstrable beyond reasonable doubt; (b) there are no mitigating circumstances. Vern S. Poythress, The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1991), 172.
[7] Matthew Poole, Annotations Upon the Holy Bible: Volume III, Matthew 5:22. 
[8] Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, Psalm 101:1-8. 
[9] Poythress, The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses, 177.
[10] Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, Proverbs 26:3.


Anonymous said...

Very good work, Steve. Linked.

Steve C. Halbrook said...

Thanks Justin!