Genesis 9:6

Genesis 9:6

Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed,
&c.] That is, he that is guilty of wilful murder shall surely be put to death by the order of the civil magistrate; so the Targum of Jonathan,

``by witnesses the judges shall condemn him to death,''

that is, the fact being clearly proved by witnesses, the judges shall condemn

``him to death,''

that is, the fact being clearly proved by witnesses, the judges shall pass the sentence of death upon him, and execute it; for this is but the law of retaliation, a just and equitable one, blood for blood, or life for life; though it seems to be the first law of this kind that empowered the civil magistrate to take away life; God, as it is thought, reserving the right and power to himself before, and which, for some reasons, he thought fit not to make use of in the case of Cain, whom he only banished, and suffered not others to take away his life, but now enacts a law, requiring judges to punish murder with death: and which, according to this law, ought never to go unpunished, or have a lesser punishment inflicted for it: the reason follows,

for in the image of God made he man;
which, though sadly defaced and obliterated by sin, yet there are such remains of it, as render him more especially the object of the care and providence of God, and give him a superiority to other creatures; and particularly this image, among others, consists in immortality, which the taking away of his life may seem to contradict; however, it is what no man has a right to do.

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