Teaching 10 Commandments to young children

Reason & Hope

Well-Known Member
I am the storyteller once a month for two groups: 2-5 year olds, and K-2nd grade. The leaders give me the topic and I write my own story from it. I use props and pictures and had a great time with the Exodus last time. This Sunday I am supposed to teach on the 10 Commandments and they gave me a script from some new curriculum they bought. The script has me calling the commandment "do not murder" instead "do not hurt anybody".

This really bothers me because it's not what the commandment means, and sometimes we have to hurt someone for their own good (like a vaccine). Jesus expanded this commandment to mean do not hate others because that is murdering them in your heart. I would be much more inclined to teach the commandment "do not hate others" than "do not hurt anybody". On the other hand, the commandment really is "do not murder" (not even do not kill) - and just the other week we did talk about all the Egyptians drowning in the Red Sea.

Does anyone here have some thoughts on age-appropriate ways to teach the 10 commandments - at least the difficult ones like adultery and murder - to young kids? I don't want to freak out parents, but I don't want to misrepresent God's Word either.
 

mattfivefour

Well-Known Member
Amy Crane, children's teacher at River Community Church lists the ten this way:

God spoke: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you were slaves.
“You must worship no God but me.
“You must not make and worship images or bow down to idols.
“You must not misuse my name.
“You must observe the Sabbath and keep it Holy.
“You must respect your father and mother.
“You must not commit murder.
“You must love and be faithful to your husband or wife.
“You must not steal.
“You must not lie.
“You must not desire what belongs to someone else.”​

And on a children's teaching site I happened across the following, regarding the seventh commandment:

Commandment 7 is Do Not Commit Adultery. The Kid's Travel book relates it this way; be true to your husband or wife, keep your promises.
I don't know if any of that helps. :idunno
 

Reason & Hope

Well-Known Member
Amy Crane, children's teacher at River Community Church lists the ten this way:

God spoke: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you were slaves.
“You must worship no God but me.
“You must not make and worship images or bow down to idols.
“You must not misuse my name.
“You must observe the Sabbath and keep it Holy.
“You must respect your father and mother.
“You must not commit murder.
“You must love and be faithful to your husband or wife.
“You must not steal.
“You must not lie.
“You must not desire what belongs to someone else.”​

And on a children's teaching site I happened across the following, regarding the seventh commandment:

Commandment 7 is Do Not Commit Adultery. The Kid's Travel book relates it this way; be true to your husband or wife, keep your promises.
I don't know if any of that helps. :idunno

These are great. Thank you. I looked at another resource as well, and it also just plain says "Do not murder." These give me support when I tell the CM person in charge that I really want to teach the commandments as they are, and not baby-fied so much that they are meaningless.

Something else I might do with the older kids (K-2) is explain "do not bear false testimony." The sin here is not lying, certainly not white lies ("I don't know about any surprise party"). The sin is in destroying someone else through false testimony. Anyway, much to think about. Thanks!
 

Jonathan

Well-Known Member
The is a very important distinction between killing and murdering. One might be justified, whereas the other is not.

It's no small point.

Murder, by definition, is the unjustified taking of another human's life. But if you kill someone in self-defense (who is assaulting you in a homicidal manner), that is not murder. That is killing, or, legally speaking, justifiable homicide.

God willing none of us will ever have to be in that situation.

But most translations of the Bible I've read says "Thou shall not kill." Is this a translation error?
 
Last edited:

Reason & Hope

Well-Known Member
The is a very important distinction between killing and murdering. One might be justified, whereas the other is not.

It's no small point.

Murder, by definition, is the unjustified taking of another human's life. But if you kill someone in self-defense (who is assaulting you in a homicidal manner), that is not murder. That is killing, or, legally speaking, justifiable homicide.

God willing none of us will ever have to be in that situation.

But most translations of the Bible I've read says "Thou shall not kill." Is this a translation error?

Hi Jonathan, translating "kill" for "murder" in the 10 Commandments is definitely a translation error.

The Hebrew word for murder in the 10 Commandments is ratsach and it means specifically killing someone with no cause (such as war or self-defense, or even accident). It fits the modern meaning of murder.
The Hebrew word for killing a person in war is hereg, and the word for killing an animal is tabach.

I don't know why some translations have kill instead of murder. Is it an old Elizabethan definition of murder? Is it a purposeful twisting of scripture? Not sure. But I am sure of the Hebrew in the 10 Commandments, which says "do not murder" and not "do not kill".

I hope that helps!
 

Jonathan

Well-Known Member
Hi Jonathan, translating "kill" for "murder" in the 10 Commandments is definitely a translation error.

The Hebrew word for murder in the 10 Commandments is ratsach and it means specifically killing someone with no cause (such as war or self-defense, or even accident). It fits the modern meaning of murder.
The Hebrew word for killing a person in war is hereg, and the word for killing an animal is tabach.

I don't know why some translations have kill instead of murder. Is it an old Elizabethan definition of murder? Is it a purposeful twisting of scripture? Not sure. But I am sure of the Hebrew in the 10 Commandments, which says "do not murder" and not "do not kill".

I hope that helps!

Thanks! That does help! A lot. God Bless.
 
Last edited:

Jonathan

Well-Known Member
Hi Jonathan, translating "kill" for "murder" in the 10 Commandments is definitely a translation error.

The Hebrew word for murder in the 10 Commandments is ratsach and it means specifically killing someone with no cause (such as war or self-defense, or even accident). It fits the modern meaning of murder.
The Hebrew word for killing a person in war is hereg, and the word for killing an animal is tabach.

I don't know why some translations have kill instead of murder. Is it an old Elizabethan definition of murder? Is it a purposeful twisting of scripture? Not sure. But I am sure of the Hebrew in the 10 Commandments, which says "do not murder" and not "do not kill".

I hope that helps!
Excellent answer by the way.
 
The is a very important distinction between killing and murdering. One might be justified, whereas the other is not.

It's no small point.

Murder, by definition, is the unjustified taking of another human's life. But if you kill someone in self-defense (who is assaulting you in a homicidal manner), that is not murder. That is killing, or, legally speaking, justifiable homicide.

God willing none of us will ever have to be in that situation.

But most translations of the Bible I've read says "Thou shall not kill." Is this a translation error?
I have heard that when the King James Bible was translated the word "kill" meant the same as the word "murder" means today. I don't know if that is correct or not but it would explain why the word was used.
 

mattfivefour

Well-Known Member
I have heard that when the King James Bible was translated the word "kill" meant the same as the word "murder" means today. I don't know if that is correct or not but it would explain why the word was used.
I have been unable to confirm that theory; but the Septuagint uses the Greek word phoneuo, which means to murder and was typically used to refer only to someone who intentionally and unlawfully kills someone.

I think the error regarding the original Hebrew and the LXX words being translated as "shalt not kill" rather than "shalt not murder" is a result of Jerome's Latin Vulgate. The KJV translators often used this Latin translation of the Scriptures rather than working from the original Hebrew, in part because the knowledge of Biblical Hebrew at that time was quite imperfect and Latin was far better known among scholars than Hebrew. Jerome, for whatever reason, decided to translate the Hebrew word with the Latin word occidere which means to kill. Hence the KJV (and its descendants) instead of conveying the narrow meaning of murder (ie: taking a life unlawfully) conveys the broadest meaning of "kill" (ie: taking any life in any manner.)
 

Salluz

Aspiring Man of God
I have been unable to confirm that theory; but the Septuagint uses the Greek word phoneuo, which means to murder and was typically used to refer only to someone who intentionally and unlawfully kills someone.

I think the error regarding the original Hebrew and the LXX words being translated as "shalt not kill" rather than "shalt not murder" is a result of Jerome's Latin Vulgate. The KJV translators often used this Latin translation of the Scriptures rather than working from the original Hebrew, in part because the knowledge of Biblical Hebrew at that time was quite imperfect and Latin was far better known among scholars than Hebrew. Jerome, for whatever reason, decided to translate the Hebrew word with the Latin word occidere which means to kill. Hence the KJV (and its descendants) instead of conveying the narrow meaning of murder (ie: taking a life unlawfully) conveys the broadest meaning of "kill" (ie: taking any life in any manner.)

Just goes to show that one translation isn't divinely inspired like the actual scriptures were. Too many people rely solely on one translation and don't go any further into other translations or the original language and that skews understanding subtly sometimes and overtly others.
 
Top