Monday, May 09, 2005

Why does Artscroll say You shall not kill?

The Stone Chumash translates lo tirtzach as you shall not kill. As everyone and his uncle knows or should know, tirtzach really doesn't mean "to kill", it means something more along the lines of "to murder". While the notes at the bottom make it clear that Artscroll is presenting the rabbinic view that extends the prohibition of lo tirtzach to things such as humiliating people (which symbolically "kill" them, and are thus prohibited under this commandment) it seems to me an irresponsible translation given the fact that there is a common misconception that the commandment is "thou shall not kill". With this error comes a host of misinterpretation about the more nuanced view Biblical view of lawful killing (it doesn't flatly forbid the taking of human life) as well as polemics against the hypocrisy of a God that can command not to "kill" and yet encourages lots of killing elsewhere in the Torah.

It seems to me an irresponsible translation. I wonder what justification was used for this translation, apart from possible laziness? Surely the translator(s) was not ignorant of the impact of "kill" versus "murder" (or some more elegant way of phrasing it).

Beli neder in a future post I will give praise to what I feel is commendable about Artscroll, despite errors such as this.

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