Exodus 21:14

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Exodus 21

Law Analysis overview

14 If a man schemes and comes presumptuously on his neighbor to kill him, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die. Exodus 21:14WEB


The Command

This passage contains a positive command, directed toward Israel: "If a man plans and attacks his neighbor to kill him, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die".

This command is a continuation and restatement of Exodus 21:12, a followup on the qualifier given in Exodus 21:13. That is, the penalty for intentional and premeditated murder is death, but unintentional manslayers may flee to the appointed place (verse 13).


This command is part of the Civil/Judicial Law.

This law fits well with laws relating to Human Judicial Response.

This law contributes to an understanding of Murder, Cities of Refuge, Capital Punishment, and Altars.


The death penalty for murder is understood to be an abiding rule for governments in the new covenant.

The ultimate fulfillment for capital punishment is the ultimate death penalty, that is the second death (Romans 6:23, Revelation 21:8), which is received by all those who have not received Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for the propitiation of their sins. After the judgment in God's court, where all such individuals receive that penalty, God grants eternal life to those who have believed, and they go to a place where death is no more (Revelation 21:4).

Notes on Interpretation/Application

"take him from my altar"

It's possible that the word "altar" here refers to the "place where he shall flee" in verse 13. That is to say, in the results of an investigation, if a man is found to have committed premeditated murder, and if that same man has fled to a city of refuge as if it were unintentional, the man shall be removed from the city of refuge and put to death.

Interpretation 2