Q. I have learned so very much through your daily column. It is the first thing I go to every day. Can you direct me to a verse, or verses, in the bible that deal with capital punishment? Does God give us direction on when, or how, man is to deal with murderers, etc.?
A. Capital punishment was first ordained by God in Genesis 9:5-6. In the times before there was as organized legal system, it was the responsibility of the next of kin to avenge a person’s wrongful death. He was called the avenger of blood. Exodus 21:23-24 and Leviticus 24:17-20 established the law of retaliation, including taking a life for a life.
In Deut. 19 the Lord called for the establishment of “cities of refuge” to which a person could flee for protection from the avenger of blood in cases where there was a claim of wrongful accusation. The elders of these cities served as a special court to determine the legitimacy of such claims, and were required to provide protection for those wrongly accused.