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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lawful Assasination, Part 2

In Patrick Henry's "if this be treason, make the most of it" speech, he drew a profound parallel. "Caesar had his Brutus; Charles the First his Cromwell; and George the III would do well to profit from their example". Henry was saying that George the III would do well to learn from the accounts of other tyrants who had been killed. Although I would not call Charles I death assassination, he was executed after trial, Caesar's death was an excellent example of tyrannicide.

But, as Christians, we should bring everything under subjection of the Law of God, and ask, what saith the scripture? Can an individual assassinate a tyrant and be in conformity to God's Word? As I studied this, I found many examples of tyrannicide in the scripture. Many of the kings of Israel, "who did evil in the eyes of the Lord", were killed in this manner. To name a few, Zechariah (2 Kings 15:8-10), Pekahiah (2 Kings 15:23-25), and Amon (2 Kings 21:19-23).

But the best examples, of how Christians should view tyrannicide, I found in the book of Judges. The first example is that of Ehud, the man who was "lame in his right hand". The entire story can be found in Judges chapter 3. The Bible says that "when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord stirred them up a savior...."(vs.15) Ehud was part of a deputation to bring tribute to King Eglon, of Moab. He used his handicap to his advantage, and assassinated the tyrant (not very chivalrous, but it got the job done!). Ehud then rallied the children of Israel and said, "Follow me: for the Lord hath delivered your enemies, even Moab into your hand."(vs.28)

Another example was that of Jael and Sisera, found in Judges chapter 4. Jael is first described in verse 17 as "the wife of Heber the Kenite". After she kills Sisera, Deborah, the prophetess sings, "Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite shall be blessed above other women: blessed shall she be above women dwelling in tents." (vs 24).

The last example I wanted to point out is that of Jehu and Jezebel, 2 Kings 9. Jehu, who will become the king of Israel, is out hunting for all the Covenant breakers. He has already killed Jehoram, king of Israel,(vs.24) and Jehoahaz, king of Judah (vs.27). Both of these could be considered examples of tyrannicide. When Jehu enters Jezreel and sees Jezebel looking down at him from a window, he commands the men standing nearby to cast her from the window. The fall killed her and her remains were eaten by the dogs. (vs.30-36)

Tyrannicide seems to be used in scripture in cases where the leader is so corrupt that he is immune from the natural course of law in that country. Since the mindset of tyrants is Rex Lex, it should be very easy to identify them.

Here is another opinion on this subject from a friend of mine.

Author's note: All biblical references were drawn from the 1599 Geneva Bible.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Son3 said...

Great article!

This article gives me a whole new outlook on biblical governments.

August 27, 2008 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Another excellent post!

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on "lawful" vs. "advisable" as the question pertains to this subject.

Also, sorry to nitpick... but I would disagree slightly with your use of the term "murder" in reference to the story of Jael and Sisera, since (as both you and the text imply, and I agree) it was not an unlawful act.

August 29, 2008 at 6:12 PM  
Blogger Stephen Boyd said...

I'm a little unsure as to your meaning. Lawful killing means killing in accordance with God's word. It would seem to me that if it were lawful, it would also be advisable, unless you mean in terms of timing.

Is that what your question meant?

Oops! Thanks for the heads up, duly changed.

August 29, 2008 at 6:25 PM  

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