hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, lash for lash…
Where this law is still practiced, we see the insanity cycle prevail and anger fuelling massive power, superceding the law, and vigilantes rule. So the countries that have this law in place today, do not have a strong civil body and this law has utterly destroyed the peace of those societies, and have sown the seeds of hatred, revenge, and all uncharitableness.
This is “lex talionis”, the law of retaliation.
It would seem that there would not always be a need for such retaliation to be taken to the letter of the law. Understanding the law requires that some recompence be made in another way.
For instance, this law cannot be literally executed, when one does not have eyes and finds themselves in a situation where they have taken out an eye from someone else; or one that has no teeth may strike out the tooth of another; in such cases eye cannot be given for eye, nor tooth for tooth.
It can get worse. What if I were to strike your eye and a third part of your eye loses its sight, how will you strike me so that only a third of my eyes is damaged?
If someone who has but one eye, or one hand, or one foot, should damage another person in those parts, and must lose their remaining eye, or hand, or foot, they would be in a worse case and condition than the person which they injured; since they would still have one eye, or hand, or foot.
This law was held by both the Jews and the Romans. The Romans agreed that the maiming of members only took place when the parties could not come to an agreement; and Jewish law accept payment to be received, if that was a more willing situation.
If you like to study this law in more depth, check out this site – http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/otesources/02-exodus/Text/Articles/Sprinkle-Ex21Abortion-WTJ.pdf
Well, it seems that this has played a large part into our society today. Movies are mostly about revenge – the last one I saw had to do with a 13-year old girl training her whole life to get revenge on one person. I talk to Christians and say what would you do if your spouse cheated on you – all of them would do some major damage to the other person who assisted in the affair. It seems to be a great outlet for uncontrolled anger.
No wonder a follower of Christ is so unusual and at the same time ridiculed. We offer grace and mercy, when hit on one side of our face – we turn the other cheek, if demanded to walk a mile and carry someone’s belongings, we offer to go another, if one demands our coat, we give them our shirt as well.
Which yields more power, which changes lives, which is in keeping with the character of God?
It is a bit confusing in one sense because God came up with the law in the first place. Then it becomes less confusing we see how we can easily mess up such a great law that creates healthy boundaries in a society.
This is crucial for me today – I have to get a grasp on the fact that power does not come in taking but in giving. If I give, I represent the character of God. When I give, people see Jesus in me. When I give, I am not in control. When I give, I share with the world what I see every day – the glory of God. When I give, I worship my God and invite all others around me to do the same.
God, give me the strength to give today. Help me see the opportunities where I am selfish and can stop, turn around and give instead. May today be a day You are glorified in my life – let me see what it is like to steward this world as you have modelled for me.
on a lighter note – http://youtu.be/A-8fWbnxgSU
- Letting Go of Revenge (phoenixsphere.wordpress.com)