Exodus 21:12-13-Answering Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati

If a murderer has to be put to death, why was Prophet Moses exempted?


Those sentences which are colored in orange are from Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati book Satyarth Prakash (The Light of Truth) and those which are colored in black are Jerry Thomas’s response.

"He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death. And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place wither he shall flee." (21:12, 13.)

C. ~ If this act of God be just, why was not the same punishment meted out to Moses who slew a man, buried him and then ran away? He stands guilty of partiality to Moses or else why did He not let Moses be judged by the ruler of the country.


Answer: I have already explained that for Exodus 2: 11-14, Prophet Moses did not commit a homicide by the current legal definition.

Now, as this question is related to the verse, let us read the verses in its entirety and context.

Exodus 21:12-14 "He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. However, if he did not lie in wait, but God delivered [him] into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee.  But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die. 

In verse 12, we have the commandment.

In verse 13, we have the definition of who is excluded – that man did not lie in wait- in other words as the next verse would define, this was not a premeditated murder but a spontaneous one.

In verse 14, we have the definition of who should be included in the clause.

Did Moses premeditate to kill the Egyptian? Did Moses lie in wait to kill the Egyptian?

Let us read the passage:

Exodus 2:11 Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

This Egyptian was not known to Moses and therefore it was not premeditated. There was an immediate provocation by the Egyptian which resulted in his killing.

So does this incident fall under the premeditated murder? Only a Vedic Maharishi can conclude that and not by people who can reasonably read and understand things.

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