A term employed with reference to both premeditated and accidental or justifiable killing. In the latter case, an asylum was granted (Numbers 35:6,12) until the death of the high priest, after which the slayer was allowed to "return into the land of his possession" (Numbers 35:28). The cases in which the manslayer was to be held clearly immune from the punishment imposed on willful killing were:
(1) death by a blow in a sudden quarrel (Numbers 35:22);
(2) death by anything thrown at random (Numbers 35:22,23);
(3) death by the blade of an axe flying from the handle (Deuteronomy 19:5).
Among the cases in which one would be held responsible for the death of another, is to be counted the neglectful act of building a house without a parapet (Deuteronomy 22:8).
Manslaughter, as a modern legal term, is employed to distinguish unpremeditated killing from coldblooded murder, but formerly (2 Esdras 1:26) it was used in a more general sense.
Frank E. Hirsch
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