Absolute but general commands of the form: You must not kill! Are called "apodictic law" (distinguishing them from casuistic law, or case law). Such commands are common in the Torah, but very rare among Israel's neighbors.
Such commands are not designed for application in the court. Is killing in war acceptable? (Some Bibles even translate Ex 20:13 "murder", though the Hebrew is not specific about the kind of killing being forbidden.) What about accidental killing? Apodictic 'law' does not seek to answer such questions - it is not focused on application in a court, but declares a general principle. In Mt 18:21-22 Peter misunderstands the genre of this command. As Jesus' reply indicates Peter's question is wrong!
This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos,
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