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Deuteronomy 5:17 meaning...

In this succinct and straightforward commandment from the book of Deuteronomy, we encounter a fundamental ethical principle that has profound implications for human relationships and the sanctity of life. 

  • The Sanctity of Human Life:

At its core, Deuteronomy 5:17 serves as a powerful affirmation of the sanctity of human life. The commandment is unequivocal: "You shall not murder." This directive underscores the intrinsic value and dignity of every human being. It emphasizes that human life is a gift from God, and as such, it is not to be taken lightly or maliciously.

  • Preservation of Harmony and Justice:

The commandment against murder speaks to the preservation of harmony and justice within societies. By forbidding the taking of another person's life, this commandment establishes a foundation for peaceful coexistence. It affirms the principle that conflicts and disputes should be resolved through peaceful means, rather than resorting to violence and bloodshed.

  • Respect for the Image of God:

The Bible teaches that human beings are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Deuteronomy 5:17 reflects this divine imprint upon humanity. When one human life is unjustly taken, it is a violation of the image of God that resides within that individual. This commandment underscores the inherent worth and dignity of every human being, regardless of their background or circumstances.

  • Protection of Vulnerable Lives:

The prohibition against murder also serves as a protection for vulnerable individuals—those who might be more susceptible to harm or exploitation. This commandment stands as a defense for the marginalized, the defenseless, and those unable to protect themselves. It calls society to uphold the value of all lives, irrespective of age, gender, social status, or any other factor.

  • A Message Beyond Physical Action:

While the commandment explicitly addresses the act of murder, its significance extends beyond physical action. Jesus later emphasized the broader implications of this commandment in Matthew 5:21-22, where He spoke about the importance of controlling anger and avoiding contemptuous thoughts toward others. This emphasizes that not only the physical act of murder is forbidden, but also the attitudes and emotions that could lead to harm.

  • Promotion of Love and Compassion:

Ultimately, Deuteronomy 5:17 aligns with the central message of love and compassion that Jesus emphasized in His teachings. The commandment underscores the importance of valuing and caring for our fellow human beings, treating them with the same love and respect that we ourselves desire.


As we reflect on Deuteronomy 5:17, may we recognize the profound moral and ethical implications embedded within these words. This commandment stands as a foundation for human relationships, promoting harmony, justice, and the sanctity of life. It calls us to uphold the divine value present in every individual, cultivate a spirit of empathy and compassion, and work towards a world where the dignity and worth of all human beings are cherished and protected.


Deuteronomy 5:17. You shall not murder.