Restitution, not Vengeance

"An eye for an eye & a tooth for a tooth" was never meant to be understood literally. It's about restitution, not vengeance.

 The basics of Torah are simple and easy to understand, but there is also profound depth and an assumption of minimal mental competence. Torah was written for adults able to make logical connections, not for children who need everything spelled out.
“When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman's husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe." (Exo 21:22-25)
Points to consider regarding this commandment:

  • It is directed at people who have come before a court of law for an injury done to one person by another.
  • It sets the financial penalty to be imposed by judges on a guilty party.
  • It does not command anyone to remove another's eye, tooth, hand, or foot, nor to burn or strike anyone.
  • Although it has applicability in principle, it is not directed at people involved in private disputes of any kind that have not been brought to court.
  • It does not mandate that the injured person must accept the payment ordered by the court. 
  • It does not mandate that the injured person bring the case to court at all.

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