Two crimes only are punished by slaying: 1. Communal apostasy (Deut. 13:12-15). 2. Murder (Exo. 21:12; Lev. 24:17). The penalty for the first is explicitly declared (Deut 13:15): "Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword"; but that of the latter is again based on the principle of the Gezerah shawah. As with reference to a murderer the law is (Exo. 21:20), "He shall surely be punished" ("naḳom yinnaḳem"; literally, "It shall surely be avenged"), and elsewhere (Lev. 26:25) an "avenging sword" ("ḥereb noḳemet") is spoken of, the Rabbis argue that the term "naḳom" applied to homicide has the significance given to it by its connection with sword.
- Wilhelm Bacher and Lewis N. Dembitz, Capital Punishment, Jewish Encyclopedia (1901), at http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=128&letter=C.