Old Testament

The Pentateuch

What was the law of retaliation?

This refers to Exodus 21:23–24 (NLT). Regarding personal injury, “the offender must be punished according to the injury. If the result is death, the offender must be executed. If an eye is injured, injure the eye of the person who did it. If a tooth gets knocked out, knock out the tooth of the person who did it. Similarly, the payment must be hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” Historically, this law has fostered the belief among some people that unrestrained vengeance is biblical. However, many Bible scholars say that the opposite is true. They say that the law of retaliation places limitations on revenge. Only the equivalent of the damage may be taken. More on laws is covered in the chapter on Leviticus.


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