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Home -- Content: Series 7 (Laws) -- Translation: English -- Book: 1 (Tora) -- Part: 2 (Negative) -- Prohibition: 290 -- Text
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The Sharia of Moses in the TORA
Part 2 - The 365 Prohibitions of the Tora

290 - CAPITAL PUNISHMENT BASED ON CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE


Exodus 23:7 -- “Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and righteous. For I will not justify the wicked.”

By this prohibition, it is forbidden to carry out a sentence in a capital case on the basis of a strong presumption, even though it be nearly conclusive. Thus, if a man pursues his enemy with intent to kill him, and the pursues man takes refuge in a house, followed by the pursuer, and we enter after them and find the pursued man at his last gasp, and his enemy, the pursuer, standing over him with a knife in his hand, and both of them are blood-stained: the pursuer is not to be put to death by the court in the execution of justice, since there are no witnesses to testify that they have seen the murder committed.

According to Maimonides, a murderer acquitted by the court as outlined in the commandment was turned over to the king of Israel, who might find him guilty, “since the king has the power to sentence to death on circumstantial evidence.*”**

* Evidence that tends to prove a fact by proving other events or circumstances, which afford a basis for a reasonable inference of the occurrence of the fact in issue
** Moreh Nebuchim III, 40; Mishneh Torah, Shoftim, Hilchoth Melakim III, 10; cf. also ibid., Hilchoth Sanhedrin XXIV, 4

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