שנים שהיו מהלכין בדרך וביד אחד מהן קיתון של מים אם שותין שניהם מתים ואם שותה אחד מהן מגיע לישוב דרש בן פטורא מוטב שישתו שניהם וימותו ואל יראה אחד מהם במיתתו של חבירו עד שבא ר' עקיבא ולימד וחי אחיך עמך חייך קודמים לחיי חבירך
If two people were walking on a desolate path and there was a jug [kiton] of water in the possession of one of them, and the situation was such that if both drink from the jug, both will die, as there is not enough water, but if only one of them drinks, he will reach a settled area, there is a dispute as to the halakha. Ben Petora taught: It is preferable that both of them drink and die, and let neither one of them see the death of the other. This was the accepted opinion until Rabbi Akiva came and taught that the verse states: “And your brother shall live with you,” indicating that your life takes precedence over the life of the other.
וושפיכות דמים גופיה מנלן סברא הוא כי ההוא דאתא לקמיה דרבא אמר ליה מרי דוראי אמר לי זיל קטליה לפלניא ואי לא קטלינא לך אמר ליה ליקטלוך ולא תיקטול מאי חזית דדמא דידך סומק טפי דילמא דמא דההוא גברא סומק טפי
And from where do we derive this halakha with regard to murder itself? The Gemara answers: It is based on logical reasoning that one life is not preferable to another. The Gemara relates an incident to demonstrate this: This is similar to a certain man who came before Rava and said to him: A local official said to me: Go kill so-and-so, and if not I will kill you. Rava said to him: It is preferable that he should kill you and you should not kill. What did you think, that your blood is redder and more precious than his? Perhaps that man’s blood is redder.
(1) A scoundrel named Sheba son of Bichri, a Benjaminite, happened to be there. He sounded the horn and proclaimed: “We have no portion in David, No share in Jesse’s son! Every man to his tent, O Israel!” (2) All the men of Israel left David and followed Sheba son of Bichri; but the men of Judah accompanied their king from the Jordan to Jerusalem. (3) David went to his palace in Jerusalem, and the king took the ten concubines he had left to mind the palace and put them in a guarded place; he provided for them, but he did not cohabit with them. They remained in seclusion until the day they died, in living widowhood. (4) The king said to Amasa, “Call up the men of Judah to my standard, and report here three days from now.” (5) Amasa went to call up Judah, but he took longer than the time set for him. (6) And David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba son of Bichri will cause us more trouble than Absalom. So take your lord’s servants and pursue him, before he finds fortified towns and eludes us.” (7) Joab’s men, the Cherethites and Pelethites, and all the warriors, marched out behind him. They left Jerusalem in pursuit of Sheba son of Bichri. (8) They were near the great stone in Gibeon when Amasa appeared before them. Joab was wearing his military dress, with his sword girded over it and fastened around his waist in its sheath; and, as he stepped forward, it fell out. (9) Joab said to Amasa, “How are you, brother?” and with his right hand Joab took hold of Amasa’s beard as if to kiss him. (10) Amasa was not on his guard against the sword in Joab’s [left] hand, and [Joab] drove it into his belly so that his entrails poured out on the ground and he died; he did not need to strike him a second time. Joab and his brother Abishai then set off in pursuit of Sheba son of Bichri, (11) while one of Joab’s henchmen stood by the corpse and called out, “Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is on David’s side, follow Joab!” (12) Amasa lay in the middle of the road, drenched in his blood; and the man saw that everyone stopped. And when he saw that all the people were stopping, he dragged Amasa from the road into the field and covered him with a garment. (13) Once he was removed from the road, everybody continued to follow Joab in pursuit of Sheba son of Bichri. (14) [Sheba] had passed through all the tribes of Israel up to Abel of Beth-maacah; and all the Beerites assembled and followed him inside. (15) [Joab’s men] came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah; they threw up a siegemound against the city and it stood against the rampart. All the troops with Joab were engaged in battering the wall, (16) when a clever woman shouted from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come over here so I can talk to him.” (17) He approached her, and the woman asked, “Are you Joab?” “Yes,” he answered; and she said to him, “Listen to what your handmaid has to say.” “I’m listening,” he replied. (18) And she continued, “In olden times people used to say, ‘Let them inquire of Abel,’ and that was the end of the matter. (19) I am one of those who seek the welfare of the faithful in Israel. But you seek to bring death upon a mother city in Israel! Why should you destroy the LORD’s possession?” (20) Joab replied, “Far be it, far be it from me to destroy or to ruin! (21) Not at all! But a certain man from the hill country of Ephraim, named Sheba son of Bichri, has rebelled against King David. Just hand him alone over to us, and I will withdraw from the city.”