Apologies if this has already been answered :

If someone comes up to you on the street waving a gun and demanding your money and you immediately draw your concealed weapon and shoot and kill them, is that considered murder or valid self defense? Is it like when a thief enters your house in the middle of the night, or different because it happened on public property? Could you claim the robber was a rodef because as soon as he pointed a gun at you he could have shot you at any point, and so your life was in danger?

  • No. Not murder. Self defense is permitted.
    – Turk Hill
    Jan 6, 2022 at 16:15

2 Answers 2


The Talmud says: lf someone comes to kill you, kill him first (if that is the only way to stop him). Pointing a gun at you can only be interpreted as a threat to kill you. So you would be justified in taking his life first.

  • 1
    It's very likely they don't really want to kill you but just want your valuables. So I don't know if that fits the "If someone comes to kill you" condition.
    – cdog1351
    Aug 9, 2021 at 0:43
  • 3
    You can't read his mind, so you must assume he is prepared to kill you. Aug 9, 2021 at 0:53
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    "Prepared to" doesn't mean "wants to" or "will". Will post an answer shortly.
    – Stilez
    Aug 9, 2021 at 9:07
  • @stilez doesn’t matter what he intends to do. If someone points a gun to your face it is your duty to shoot till dead. If someone points a gun to your face they are going to kill you. If you do not shoot first that means you don’t value your life at all.
    – Turk Hill
    Jan 6, 2022 at 16:17
  • @TurkHill - I hope you never, ever, ever, have to account for those words to your creator, who valued life as much as his commandments show. "Your duty to shoot till dead"....... I am sad for you, my fellow human.
    – Stilez
    Jan 6, 2022 at 18:41

The Talmud says (Sanhedrin 74a):

The ruling of the mishna is stated with regard to a young woman who was raped in a case where one was able to save her by injuring the pursuer in one of his limbs, so that it was not necessary to kill him in order to achieve her rescue, and it is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yonatan ben Shaul. As it is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yonatan ben Shaul says: If a pursuer was pursuing another to kill him, and one was able to save the pursued party without killing the pursuer, but instead by injuring him in one of his limbs, but he did not save him in this manner and rather chose to kill him, he is executed on his account as a murderer.

So even killing a certain perpetrator of a very serious crime (rape), who certainly committed the crime, when that killing was avoidable, makes one a murderer. Therefore in the context of the question here, where one kills someone who has not even committed the very serious crime (murder), and apparently does not wish to do (it appears they want a threat not to actually kill), to kill them when avoidable, is surely murder.

Since their action appears to be avoidable by handing over the wallet, shooting them instead would apparently be murder.

And again (same source):

From where do we derive this halakha with regard to a murderer himself, that one must allow himself to be killed rather than commit murder? The Gemara answers: It is based on logical reasoning that one life is not preferable to another, and therefore there is no need for a verse to teach this halakha. The Gemara relates an incident to demonstrate this: As when a certain person came before Rabba and said to him: The lord of my place, a local official, said to me: Go kill so-and-so, and if not I will kill you, what shall I do? Rabba said to him: It is preferable that he should kill you and you should not kill. Who is to say that your blood is redder than his, that your life is worth more than the one he wants you to kill? Perhaps that man’s blood is redder. This logical reasoning is the basis for the halakha that one may not save his own life by killing another.

So a person is not permitted to certainly save their own life (which will certainly be ended in an unlawful manner) by committing a killing themself. Therefore it is hard to see how a person could be permitted to only potentially save their own life (which is only maybe going to be ended in an unlawful manner) by committing a killing themself.

  • Your second source isn't a good example for this question. The case in that Gemara is talking about killing an unrelated third party, the question is asking about killing the potential murderer. Aug 9, 2021 at 12:25
  • Thanks. Im using it to emphasise a related point that arises in both that and the OP question, though. Namely, that if killing another person to (absolutely certainly) save a life, is prohibited, then so much more so, must be killing someone to merely perhaps save a life. And yet, even more so again, when the situation also strongly suggests the weapon is a threat and their goal is a piece of property (money) and not even to kill, despite the presence of the weapon.
    – Stilez
    Aug 9, 2021 at 12:49
  • Based on your logic, it would never be allowed to kill in self defense. Aug 9, 2021 at 14:03
  • Not so. There is a difference. Here, you would be killing to defend property not life. The robber might shoot you, it's true. He has a gun waving. And what is he doing with it? Demanding mere property. So as in those 2 quoted sections, we cannot just kill because of mere fear without actual necessity (i.e. the fear that he might use the gun a different way even though he has not indicated any such intention at all). This may not be a modern mundane view but does stem directly from Talmud. Life - even that of a robber - is too precious to kill just because of fear of a maybe.
    – Stilez
    Aug 9, 2021 at 14:12
  • You are, in effect, asking the OP to kill a third party, ostensibly to prevent a murder being committed by a third party. That's quote #2, dont kill one life to save another, even your own. And if you say he has a gun.... well, yes but at this point shows no indication of wishing to kill with it, so it's even worse, you would have the OP kill a person, to prevent some person taking some mere money (not even killing anyone), which despite your fears and the presence of a waved gun, is jn fact all that is actually threatened at this time.
    – Stilez
    Aug 9, 2021 at 14:18

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