Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, torture for a torture?


#1

The mandate of “an eye for an eye, limb for a limb” is stated twice in the early Old Testament. Can that be taken as a generalization, an exaggeration? Or was it really moral back then to saw off a man’s leg in punishment?


#2

It was meant as a limit. Curbing unlimited retaliation and perpetual feuds which existed.

|Holy Bible (Douay Rheims)[RIGHT].[/RIGHT]Ex 21:24“Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,”[RIGHT].[/RIGHT][LEFT]Reference[/LEFT]Lev 24:20“Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, shall he restore. What blemish he gave, the like shall he be compelled to suffer.”[RIGHT].[/RIGHT]Deut 19:21“Thou shalt not pity him, but shalt require life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”[RIGHT].[/RIGHT]Mt 5:38“You have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”[RIGHT].[/RIGHT][LEFT]Commentary[/LEFT]Ver. 24. Eye. “This law tended to restrain, not to encourage, fury and revenge.” S. Aug. c. Faust. xix. 25. Some explain it, as if a sum of money could only be required, equivalent to the ransom of an eye, in case a person should be under a necessity of losing or of redeeming it. Muis. Jonathan. — Retaliation was not left to the injured party’s discretion. The judge was to decide. Christ enjoins what is more perfect, ordering us to turn the left cheek, when we have received a blow on the right. The canon law inflicts the punishment of retaliation upon the calumniator. C.[RIGHT].[/RIGHT]|


#3

What’s critical to realize about “an eye for an eye” is that it mandated that justice be proportionate and objective: one’s status in society was not to be what determined one’s punishment, nor was (as irenaeuslyons points out) any subjective or emotional outburst.

In that time and place, this was quite the leap forward in jurisprudence – it would have been seen as surprising and groundbreaking…!


#4

Yes, Absolutely Groundbreaking - suddenly in the world was a new law that instead of letting the emotion of your revenge go wild freely, here was a special people, God’s People, who would do something new in the world. They would use reason to evaluate equable punishment and their will be the mover of punishment rather than the appetite for revenge being the driver. And they would have this law because of divine inspiration calling it from them (obedience to God) rather than from political motives.


#5

The mandate of “an eye for an eye, limb for a limb” is stated twice in the early Old Testament. Can that be taken as a generalization, an exaggeration? Or was it really moral back then to saw off a man’s leg in punishment?

The Jewish Sages all agree that this mandate refers to monetary damages, and was never intended to be taken literally. It is one of the most misinterpreted passages in the Torah.


#6

Thank God for Jewish Sages. Aquinas interpreted it literally


#7

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