XVI. (90) Therefore, since they have heaped iniquity upon iniquity, adding lawlessness and impiety to murder, they must be dragged out of the temple to undergo their punishment, since, as I have said before, they have committed actions worthy of ten thousand deaths instead of one; as otherwise, the temple would be shut against the relations and friends of the man who has been so treacherously murdered, if the murderer were to be dwelling in it, since they could never endure to come into the same place with him. But it would be absurd that, for the sake of one man, and him the most lawless of men, a great number of persons, and those too the very persons who have been injured by him, should be excluded from the temple–men who, besides that they have done no wrong themselves, have even sustained an unseasonable affliction through his actions. (91) And perhaps, indeed, the lawgiver seeing far into futurity by the acuteness of his reasoning powers, was, by such commandments, providing against any bloodshed ever taking place in the temple by the entrance of any of the friends of the murdered man into it, whom natural affection, a very ungovernable feeling, would urge, full of enthusiasm and violent rage as they would be, almost to slay the murderer with their own hands, while if such an event were to take place it would be most impious sacrilege; for then the blood of the sacrifices would be mingled with the blood of murderers; that which has been consecrated to God with that which is wholly impure. It is on this account that Moses commands that the murderer shall be given up, even from the altar itself.

XVII. (92) But some persons who have slain others with swords, or spears, or darts, or clubs, or stones, or something of that kind, may possibly have done so without any previous design, and without having for some time before planned this deed in their hearts, but may have been excited at the moment, yielding to passion more powerful than their reason, to commit the homicide; so that it is but half a crime, inasmuch as the mind was not for some long time before occupied by the pollution. (93) But there are others also of the greatest wickedness, men polluted both in hands and mind, who, being sorcerers and poisoners, devoting all their leisure and all their solitude to planning seasonable attacks upon others, who invent all kinds of contrivances and devices to bring about calamities on their neighbours. (94) On which account, Moses commands that poisoners and sorceresses shall not be allowed to live one day or even one hour, but that they shall be put to death the moment that they are taken, no pretext being for a moment allowed them for putting off or delaying their punishment. For those who attack one openly and to one’s face, any body may guard against; but of those who plot against one secretly, and who disguise their attacks by the concealed approaches of poison, it is not easy to see the cunning beforehand. (95) It is necessary, therefore, to anticipate them, inflicting upon them that death which other persons would else have suffered by their means. And again, besides this, he who openly slays a man with a sword, or with any similar weapon, can only kill a few persons at one time; but one who mixes and compounds poisonous drugs with food, may destroy innumerable companies at once who have no suspicion of his treachery. (96) Accordingly, it has happened before now that very numerous parties of men who have come together in good fellowship to eat of the same salt and to sit at the same table, have suffered at such a time of harmony things wholly incompatible with it, being suddenly killed, and have thus met with death instead of feasting. On which account it is fitting that even the most merciful, and gentle, and moderate of men should approve of such persons being put to death, who are all but the same as murderers who slay with their own hand; and that they should think it consistent with holiness, not to commit their punishment to others, but to execute it themselves. (97) For how can it by anything but a most terrible evil for any one to contrive the death of another by that food which is given as the cause of life, and to work such a change in that which is nutritious by nature as to render it destructive; so that those who, in obedience to the necessities of nature, have recourse to eating and drinking, having no previous idea of any treachery, take destructive food as though it were salutary? (98) Again, let those persons meet with the same punishment who, though they do not compound drugs which are actually deadly, nevertheless administer such as long diseases are caused by; for death is often a lesser evil than diseases; and especially than such as extend over a long time and have no fortunate or favourable end. For the illnesses which arise from poisons are difficult to be cured, and are often completely incurable. (99) Moreover, in the case of men who have been exposed to machinations of this kind, it often happens that diseases of the mind ensue which are worse even than the afflictions of the body; for they are often attacked by delirium and insanity, and intolerable frenzy, by means of which the mind, the greatest blessing which God has bestowed upon mankind, is impaired in every possible manner, despairing of any safety or cure, and so is utterly removed from its seat, and expelled, as it were, leaving in the body only the inferior portion of the soul, namely, its irrational part, of which even beasts partake, since every person who is deprived of reason, which is the better part of the soul, is changed into the nature of a beast, even though the characteristics of the human form remain.