Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Exceptions to an eye for an eye

It is very interesting to see that Torah provides certain exceptions for an eye for an eye commandment. This exception is not an excuse not to do an eye for an eye, however, it is interesting that it exists so let's take a look at it:
CLV Ex 21:26 When a man smites the eye of his slave or the eye of his female-slave and ruins it he shall dismiss him free for his eye. 
CLV Ex 21:27 And if he causes a tooth of his slave or a tooth of his female-slave to fall out he shall dismiss him free for his tooth.
As you can see, if someone damaged his slave's eye or tooth, there is no reciprocal punishment. In case of slaves the punishment is slave is granted his freedom.

This, I think, is a very fair and just command. It does not mean that slaves are somehow inferior to not-slaves. It would not be fair to do an eye for an eye in case of a slave because slaves do not have authority over their own freedom. Torah slaves have made a conscientious decision to stay with their Torah-observant masters, so they have effectively put their life into the hands of their masters. This is why there is an exception for an eye for an eye command here.

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