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Is It Permitted To Kill A Robber?

Warning: This sensitive topic speaks about killing a robber

Divine Code for December 10, 2022

Today: Pages 338-339

Part 3:12 -- 3:14

If someone attempts to break into a house secretively for the purpose of robbery, whether by day or night, it is permitted to kill him (except in certain situations that are explained below). This is learned from Ex.22:1 that states, ''there is no blood for him'' [i.e., it is permitted to shed his blood; since he is ready to kill in the process of his robbery, therefore, he is also permitting himself to be killed as a pursuer if he is discovered]. Therefore, if a defender of the home or business (the owner or any other person) kills the robber, he is not liable. If a person reasons that the robber is ready to commit murder, it is whether the robber comes through a tunnel, or a door, or is found on the roof or in the yard, or in any place where occupants of the building can usually be found.

How can we permit a person to take the life of a robber if he only comes for money? This is because it is assumed that if the house owner stands up and tries to prevent the robbery (which is the natural way of the world), the robber will kill him. Therefore, if someone enters another person's house to rob him, it is as if the robber is pursuing the owner to kill him. For this reason, it is permitted within the Noahide Code to kill the robber (and indeed, it is a moral obligation) if there is a risk to the life of the house owner, regardless of whether the robbery is being committed by a minor or an adult, or a man or woman. (This applies only in a case where there is a concern that the minor or woman may be coming with the intent to kill if discovered, and that he or she has the capability to do so.)

However, if it is clear to the person inside who encounters the robber that the robber will not kill him, it is forbidden to kill the robber, and if one does so, he is considered a murderer. (Therefore, if it is clear that the robber is only coming to steal money or belongings, without readiness to kill in the process, and he is fearful and will submit if he is discovered in the act - like the behavior of a minor child who steals secretly but who isn't prepared to kill - it is forbidden to kill him.)

Therefore, if a father comes secretly to rob his son, and it is clear that if this son tries to stop him, he will not kill his son, and it is clear that if this son tries to stop hum, he will not kill his son, then he is not considered a pursuer. If the son kills him anyway, the son is considered a murderer, and i liable to capital punishment for this (because in general, a father will have mercy on his son; however, if it is know that the father is cruel and will not have mercy, then he is assumed to be a pursuer, and it is permissible to kill him if he is discovered robbing).

Likewise, if a robber is breaking into the house of his known close friend, and it is clear that he does not come with readiness to kill, he is not a considered pursuer, and it is forbidden to kill him. On the other hand, a son who robs his father's home is assumed to be a pursuer (since in general, a son has less mercy for his father than his father has for him). Therefore, the father or another person is permitted to kill the son when he is caught breaking in.

Curious about the whole page? You can read it in The Divine Code.

Reading schedule the Divine Code

Tomorrow: Topic 3:15 - 3:16

Brought By Sarah Bakker


Sarah Bakker is a blog writer and illustrator for the Noahide Academy. After a difficult time, she found Judaism. She has been a Noahide for many years and uses her experiences and knowledge combined with her creative talents to help others.



The Divine Code (Third Edition)


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