Capital Punishment In Genesis 9:6 -- By: Ralph D. Mawdsley

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 18:2 (Summer 1975)
Article: Capital Punishment In Genesis 9:6
Author: Ralph D. Mawdsley


Capital Punishment In Genesis 9:6

Ralph D. Mawdsley

Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minneapolis

Capital punishment refers to the forfeiture of human life for violation of previously established criminal laws. Criminal laws may be God-ordained through revelation, or they may be humanly ordained through legislative enactments or dictatorial edicts. It is interesting to note that, especially in the capital offenses, the elements of the offenses as delineated by the agents of human government often reveal their Scriptural derivation. An example in point is kidnapping, which in Illinois may be committed by abduction plus a ransom request. It is obvious that these elements were not the product of human ingenuity, but were borrowed from the Old Testament (Exod. 21:16). It is the purpose to limit the scope of this article to a consideration of capital punishment as commanded by God in the Scriptures, and to relate examples of humanly-ordained laws only as they illustrate the veracity of the Biblical record.

Biblical laws were proclaimed by God as part of the Noahic Covenant between God and Noah after the Deluge (Gen. 8:15ff.). Although the laws were declared by God through His revelation (II Pet. 1:21), the vehicle of enforcement was to be the government of man (Matt. 22:21). After God’s direct rule of men in the Ante-Deluvian period and His universal punishment by means of the Deluge, God elected to remove Himself from the direct universal punishment of men (Gen. 8:21) and commanded that man be responsible for the punishment of his own kind (Gen. 9:6). In this new dispensation, although man’s direct moral responsibility to God continued, God instituted a corporate relationship of man to man in human government.

The Lord’s Criminal Code, or that part of the Bible which contains the laws of conduct prescribed for human activity, the rules of criminal procedure in determining the violation of these laws, and the penalties for the proved disobedience of said laws are generally referred to as the Mosaic Law. Under the Mosaic Law, the offenses that made one liable to the punishment of death were striking or reviling a parent (Exod. 21:15, 17), blaspheming or cursing the Lord (Lev. 24:10–16), desecration of the Sabbath (Exod. 31:14

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