“by man is his blood to be shed.” The death penalty is commanded by God, and it is the responsibility of mankind to carry it out. It is in all five books of Moses, and in other books of both the Old and New Testaments as well. The first time it is mentioned, Genesis 9:6, is significant. Genesis 9:6 tells us what God expects. He gives people the responsibility to maintain a safe society by executing people who murder others. Both Scripture and history make it clear that, with a few exceptions, God will not kill evildoers in society. There have been a few exceptions, such as the Flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but the exceptions are rare as any police officer or judge will testify. If humans do not police their own society, criminals run rampant. God’s rule, plainly spelled out in Scripture, is that if a person sheds the blood of another person, then it is by other humans that justice must be meted out.
Some people are against the death penalty, saying that mankind is the creation of God, and therefore a person does not have the right to take the life of another person. That may sound good, but it is contrary to Scripture. People have both the right and responsibility to execute murderers. God gave us that right and responsibility, and He will not take it back just because it is distasteful to us. God gave people the wisdom and ability to take care of their own society and its problems, and He tells us to do just that. People today are busy and overburdened, yet God is not running around among us mowing lawns, fixing broken appliances in the home, driving the kids around from place to place, etc., and people do not expect Him to. We know that God will not go grocery shopping for us, so we do it ourselves. Similarly, we should know from all the crime in society that God will not get rid of the criminals among us; we must do it ourselves. God said that if a person sheds the blood of another person, then it is the job of the society to see that justice is done and avenge that bloodshed so that society will remain safe. [For more on the death penalty, see commentary on Exod. 21:12].
“in his own image.” For information on the image of God, see commentary on Genesis 1:27.