Exodus 21:22-25 and Abortion

Do remember that both Judaism and Islam give an absolute priority to the life of the mother, you will disagree, obviously, but that is the case.

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You should of.

And miss the opportunity to point out that it was difficult to get yourself executed under Jewish jurisdiction even in ‘biblical’ times?

Nope I’m not a Jew or a Muslim I’m a christian so I don’t follow those faiths.

It would seem reasonably important to have at least a basic understanding of the faith the Messiah shared with the Jews.

Killings are not all treated the same way in the justice system and the Church is completely fine with this. There is manslaughter, 2nd degree, premeditated murder, negligence, accomplices, etc. If a country outlaws abortion that doesn’t necessarily mean the justice system will handle a case of abortion the same as it would with other murders. In the case of beating a woman where the perpetrator also ends up killing the unborn child, it was determined that that should be handled differently.

Having proportionality and exercising prudence allows a justice system to develop over time in order to respond to injustice more constructively and to consider the common good of the society:

“We are still a long way from the time when our conscience can be certain of having done everything possible to prevent crime and to control it effectively so that it no longer does harm and, at the same time, to offer to those who commit crimes a way of redeeming themselves and making a positive return to society. If all those in some way involved in the problem tried to . . . develop this line of thought, perhaps humanity as a whole could take a great step forward in creating a more serene and peaceful society.”


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That is what I learned the real meaning of the verse is. In other words, the Hebrew Bible is imposing LIMITS on retribution: An eye for an eye RATHER THAN a life for an eye, which would be too harsh a punishment.

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Most legal codes of this time frame have something similar to try and stop all out bananas feuds going on, you had weregild systems among the Norseand the eric in Ireland, both notorious for having a barney or two and keeping a blood feud going forever so in theory at least systems like this were supposed to clamp down on that. Didn’t always work so well in reality but it did at least provide an avenue for redress beyond, ‘Let’s all kill each other for the next hundred years’.

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Actually, this is true. In cases where the life of the mother is in jeopardy, the fetus is required to be sacrificed if the mother desires it. It has to do with Jewish law stating that the fetus is of less value due to not having taken its first breath yet.

Note! This does not mean they are pro abortion. It’s only in these rare cases where it’s between the life of the mother and the life of the child that the mothers life takes precedence. As far as I am aware, only Catholisism thinks differently.

The EO hold similar views. When I was born my father was warned he might have to chose between me or mum, both were devout Catholics and given mum was a nurse she was well aware what was going on and told him to choose the baby. I’d say that might have worked for him as he had an extended family to help out with the kid and all and no other kids, not such an easy and black and white choice even then. Before anyone comments go away and think about being offered that choice and your response.

According to Strong’s Concordance:

The Hebrew word used for what happens to the the child after the woman is hit is the same word used in Exodus 17:16 when talking about water coming out of the rock. It is also used in Deuteronomy 21:2 when speaking of judges “going out” to measure distances. Along with other places, I can’t find any that use the word when speaking of death.

The Hebrew word used to describe something bad happening (neither the woman or baby is specified in original text) the same word is used in Genesis 42:4 when Jacob is worried about unspecified “harm” befalling him. It is also used in Genesis 42:38 when Jacob refuses to let Reuben take his youngest son to Egypt for fear that unspecified “harm” may come to him. There is, in this context, the fear of death being “harm” but it is only implied. It is, otherwise, a father not wanting anything bad to happen to his beloved son.

So, I would say, this is a translation issue where, in some Bibles, it looks like a baby has died but is treated as property instead of life, but THEN the wife dies and her death deserves retribution. However, this is reading into the text things that are not there. The actual text only says that the baby comes out and THEN is any unspecified “harm” is done (again, there is no exclusion language here to leave out the child) that “harm” deserves the proper rectification according to the law of that time.

Just a couple of short reads from Aish and Chabad.

Thanks so much for these links. Love this interpretation although not the one I learned. But as you know, Judaism is all right with diverse interpretations of many issues, whether the interpretations are related or not.

Yes, we grew up with arguments over everything and anything.

The recompense scenario was the one that made most sense to me - both from a keeping the peace point of view and from a tribal point of view. For example, if the father of a family was killed, who was going to maintain them? If the tribe killed/allowed the killing of another father in revenge, who was going to maintain that family?

Far better, from a tribal perspective, to systemise recompense - the perpetrator (and their immediate kin, perhaps) pays.

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