the power of speech, as can be seen from some of the instances cited above. The rule governing evidence in a case under the Mosaic law, and also followed in the Christian congregation, is that a person may be found guilty only “at the mouth,” that is, on the testimony, of two or three witnesses. (Deut. 17:6; Matt. 18:16; compare 2 Corinthians 13:1.) A few other examples of similar usage are found at Job 32:5; Psalm 10:7; 55:21; 78:36; Ezekiel 24:27; 29:21; Luke 21:15; Romans 15:6.
In addition, “mouth” may have reference to the opening of something, such as of a well (Gen. 29:2), a bag (Gen. 43:12; 44:1, 2), a cave (Josh. 10:22) or an opening in the earth (Num. 16:32), and to the receiving of shed blood by the ground. (Gen. 4:11) Sheol, mankind’s common grave, is spoken of as having a wide mouth, so as to receive many dead.—Isa. 5:14.
The palate is the roof of the mouth separating the mouth from the nasal cavities, and having a soft part that forms a curtain between the mouth and the pharynx. In the Scriptures, “palate” is, in some cases, used nearly synonymously with “mouth.” Some translations, in fact, render the Hebrew word for “palate” as “mouth.”
Both Job and Elihu make a comparative use of the word when they liken the palate’s ability to discriminate taste to man’s judgment as to what is right and wise. (Job 12:11; 34:3) That the palate has a function in tasting is not erronous, as sometimes claimed. This can be seen by observing the part played by the palate in swallowing. Food is pressed by the tongue against the palate and spread out as it moves back into the pharynx, which is a tube leading toward the stomach and connected also with the nasal passages. This brings about better diffusion of the aroma of the food into the nasal passages, which greatly contributes to what is commonly called “taste.”
The hybrid offspring of a he-ass and a mare. The mule’s body resembles that of the horse, but its short, thick head, long ears, short mane, small feet and its tail terminated by a tuft of long hairs are characteristic of the ass. The mule combines some of the finer qualities of both parents: the endurance, hardiness and surefootedness of the ass, and the strength, vigor and courage of the horse. The animal is less prone to disease than the horse, displays greater patience when bearing heavy burdens and enjoys a much longer life-span. The hinny, the offspring of a stallion and a she-ass, is smaller than the mule and lacks its strength and beauty. Both sexes of the mule, with rare exceptions, are sterile.
These animals were among the gifts brought to Solomon by kings desiring to hear his wisdom. (1 Ki. 10:24, 25; 2 Chron. 9:23, 24) Other mules may have been obtained from traders, such as the Phoenicians. (Ezek. 27:8, 9, 14) In the time of David, mules were used as mounts by prominent persons. David’s own she-mule was assigned for Solomon’s use on the occasion of his anointing at Gihon.—2 Sam. 13:29; 18:9; 1 Ki. 1:33, 34, 38, 39.
Mules were valued as burden-bearers. (2 Ki. 5:17; 1 Chron. 12:40) Jehovah, by means of his prophet Isaiah, indicated that mules would be one of the means of transport for bringing his scattered people to Jerusalem. (Isa. 66:20) It is therefore of note that in fulfillment of prophecy those returning from Babylonian exile brought with them 245 mules in addition to other beasts of burden.—Ezra 2:66; Neh. 7:68.
Humans are counseled not to make themselves persons without understanding, like a horse or a mule whose spiritedness must be curbed by means of a bridle or a halter.—Ps. 32:9.
The original-language words variously rendered kill, murder and slay refer to the taking of a life, the context or other scriptures determining whether the deliberate and unauthorized or unlawful taking of another person’s life is involved. For example, in the command, “You must not murder” (Ex. 20:13), the Hebrew word for “murder” (ra·tsahhʹ, literally meaning “to break” or “to dash in pieces”) here clearly refers to deliberate and unlawful killing. But at Numbers 35:27 the same term denotes an act that an avenger of blood was authorized to carry out. Therefore, the command, “You must not murder,” has to be understood within the framework of the entire Mosaic law, which authorized the taking of human life under certain circumstances, as in the execution of criminals.
Almost from the beginning of human history murder has been known. Through his disobedience, the first man Adam passed sin and death to his offspring, thus, in effect, proving himself to be a murderer. (Rom. 5:12; 6:23) Since it was the Devil who deliberately contributed to this development by inducing Adam’s wife Eve to sin, the Greek term an·thro·po·ktoʹnos, “murderer” or “manslayer,” is rightly applied to Satan.—Gen. 3:13; John 8:44.
Less than 130 years afterward the first violent murder, a fratricide, occurred. Cain, Adam’s firstborn son, motivated by envious hatred, murdered his righteous brother Abel. (Gen. 4:1-8, 25; 5:3) For this act Cain was cursed in banishment to become a wanderer and a fugitive in the earth. (Gen. 4:11, 12) Not until after the flood of Noah’s day did God authorize humans to administer capital punishment for murder.—Gen. 9:6.
UNDER THE LAW
Centuries later the Mosaic law was given to the Israelites and it included extensive legislation regarding the taking of human life. It differentiated between deliberate and accidental slaying. Factors considered as weighing against one claiming to be an accidental manslayer were: If he (1) had been a former hater of the slain person (Deut. 19:11, 12; compare Joshua 20:5), (2) had lain in wait for the victim (Num. 35:20, 21) or (3) had used an object or implement capable of inflicting a mortal wound. (Num. 35:16-18) Even slaves, if killed while being beaten by their masters, were to be avenged. (Ex. 21:20) Whereas the death penalty was prescribed for deliberate murderers and a ransom was ruled out in their case, unintentional manslayers could preserve their lives by availing themselves of the safety accorded them in the cities of refuge.—Ex. 21:12, 13; Num. 35:30, 31; Josh. 20:2, 3; see CITIES OF REFUGE.
Certain deliberate acts that indirectly caused or could have resulted in the death of another person were considered tantamount to deliberate murder. For example, the owner of a goring bull who disregarded previous warnings to keep the animal under guard could be put to death if his bull killed someone else. In some cases, however, a ransom could be accepted