Exodus 21:22
If men who are fighting strike a pregnant woman and her child is born prematurely, but there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband demands and as the court allows.
Sermons
Bodily InjuriesJ. Orr Exodus 21:18-36
Equitable JudgmentExodus 21:22-25
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D.Exodus 21:22-25
Life for LifeExodus 21:22-25
Stripe for StripeGreat ThoughtsExodus 21:22-25
The Criminal Law: was it Written in BloodH. M. Field, D. D.Exodus 21:22-25
The Requirement of Strict Equivalents in Making Compensation for InjuriesD. Young Exodus 21:22-25
The particular illustration here is confessedly obscure; but there can hardly be a mistake as to the principle illustrated, viz., that when injury is inflicted on the person, the very best should be done that can be done to make an adequate compensation. When property is taken it can often be restored or things put practically as they were before; but when the person is seriously injured, there is then no possibility of exact restoration. Hence the injurer might be inclined to say that because he could not do everything by way of compensation he was at liberty to do nothing. But the requirement comes in to stop him from such easy-going reflections. Eve for eye is wanted. You must do your best to restore what you have destroyed. Obviously the purpose of the regulation is, not to justify or aid in anything like revenge, but to make men be contented with the best they can get in substitution for the injury that has been done. The regulation of course was never meant to be interpreted literally, any more than our Lord''s counsel that he who had been smitten on the right cheek, should turn the other to the smiter. What good would it do literally to render an eye for an eye? That would be great loss to the person injuring and not the slightest gain to the person injured. Persistent requirement of compensation is to be distinguished from a passionate seeking for revenge. And be it noted that this requirement of compensation is not to be omitted under any erroneous notions of what weakness and self-denial may compel from us as Christians. We must keep to the principle underlying the regulation here, as well as to that other glorious and beautiful principle which our Lord ]aid down in quoting this regulation (Matthew 5:39). He spoke to stop revenge. But surely he would have been the first to say, on needful occasion, that reckless men must not be suffered to inflict injury on the supposition that Christians would not resent it. Certainly we are not to seek compensation for injuries or punishment of those who injure simply to gratify private feelings, or get a private advantage. But if conscience is clear as to its being for the public good, we must be very urgent and pertinacious in demanding compensation. We may be sure our Master would ever have us contend with all meekness and gentleness, but also with all bravery and stedfastness for all that is right. But the thing of most importance to be learnt from this regulation is, that the most precious things attainable by us are beyond human malice or carelessness to spoil in the slightest degree. The treasures God loves to make the peculiar possession of his children are such as eye has not seen. The eye may be lost, and yet the enjoyment of these treasures remain - nay more, the very loss of the natural may increase the susceptibility of the spiritual in us. The very crippling of the body may help us to make wonderful advances towards the perfect man in Christ Jesus. - Y.







Life for life.
? — The only sense in which retaliation was authorized was as a maxim of law, which helped to fix the measure of punishment for crime. It was the mode of punishment which was at once the simplest, the most natural, and the most easily administered. Indeed, in many cases it was the only mode possible. How would our modern reformers punish such offences? By putting the malefactor in prison? But where was the prison in the desert? In the desert the only possible penalty was one which could be inflicted on the person of the offender, and here the principle of strict retaliation for the crime committed, rigid as it may seem, was perfectly just. It was right that he who inflicted a wound upon his neighbour should feel himself how sharp and keen a wound may be; that he who ferociously tore his brother's eye from its socket should forfeit his own. The law against murder followed the same inexorable rule — "life for life"; a law in which there was no element of pardon or pity. But Moses did not create it; it had been the law of the desert long before he was born. When that old bearded sheik of all the Bedaween of Sinai, sitting under the shadow of a great rock in the desert, explained to us the operation of the lex talionis in his tribe, he set before us not only that which now is, but that which has been from the very beginning of time. It was somewhat startling, indeed, to find that laws and customs which we had supposed to belong only to an extreme antiquity still lingered among these mountains and deserts. The avenger of blood might follow with swift foot upon the murderer's track, and if he overtook him and put him to death the law held him free. But at the same time it gave the criminal a chance for his life. In the cities of refuge the manslayer was safe until he could have a fair trial ....Perhaps nothing shows more the spirit of a law than the modes of execution for those who are to suffer its extreme penalty. It is not two hundred years since torture was laid aside by European nations. James the Second himself witnessed the wrenching of "the boot" as a favourite diversion. The assassin who struck Henry the Fourth was torn limb from limb by horses, under the eye of ladies of the court. The Inquisition stretched its victims on the rack. Other modes of execution, such as burning alive, sawing asunder, and breaking on the wheel, were common in Europe until a late period. The Turks impaled men, or flayed them alive; and tied women in sacks with serpents, and threw them into the Bosphorus. Among the ancients, punishments were still more excruciating. The Roman people, so famous for the justice of their laws, inflicted the supreme agony of crucifixion, in which the victim lingered dying for hours, or even days. After the capture of Jerusalem, Titus ordered two thousand Jews to be crucified. How does this act of the imperial Romans compare with the criminal law of "a semi-savage race"? Under the Hebrew code all these atrocities were unknown. Moses prescribed but two modes of capital punishment — the sword and stoning .... And is this the law that was "written in blood "? No, not in blood, but in tears; for through the sternness of the lawgiver is continually breaking the heart of man. Behind the coat of mail that covers the breast of the warrior is sometimes found the heart of a woman. This union of gentleness with strength is one of the most infallible signs of a truly great nature. It is this mingling of the tender and the terrible that gives to the Hebrew law a character so unique — a majesty that awes with a gentleness that savours more of parental affection than of severity. Crime and its punishment is not in itself a pleasing subject to dwell on; but when on this dark background is thrown the light of such provisions for the poor and the weak, the effect is like the glow of sunset on the red granite of the Sinai mountains. Even the peaks that were hard and cold, look warm in the flood of sunlight which is poured over them all. Thus uniting the character of the supporter of weakness and protector of innocence with that of the punisher of crime, Moses appears almost as the divinity of his nation — as not only the founder of the Hebrew state, but as its guardian genius through all the periods of its history. When he went up into Mount Nebo, and stretched out his arm toward the Promised Land, he gave to that land the inestimable blessings of laws founded in eternal justice; and not only in justice, but in which humanity was embodied almost as much as in the precepts of religion. Nor was that law given for the Israelites alone. It was an inheritance for all ages and generations. That mighty arm was to protect the oppressed so long as human governments endure. Moses was the king of legislators, and to the code which he left rulers of all times have turned for instruction.

(H. M. Field, D. D.)

1. God supposeth the cruel smitings of masters, but alloweth them not.

2. God foreseeth the sufferings of poor slaves, and provides in His law against it.

3. The perishing of the least member of servants, even of a tooth, God will require of superiors (ver. 26).

4. God by His law depriveth those men of lordship, who abuse their power cruelly over servants.

5. Bond and free are equally considered by God in His law without respect of persons. He makes the oppressed free (vers. 26, 27).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

Great Thoughts.
A boy was one day sitting on the steps of a door. He had a broom in one hand, and in the other a large piece of bread-and-butter, which somebody had kindly given him. While he was eating it, and merrily humming a tune, he saw a poor little dog quietly sleeping not far from him. He called out to him: "Come here, poor fellow!" The dog, hearing himself kindly spoken to, rose, pricked up his ears, and wagged his tail. Seeing the boy eating, he came near him. The boy held out to him a piece of his bread-and-butter. As the dog stretched out his head to take it, the boy hastily drew back his hand, and hit him a hard rap on the nose. The poor dog ran away, howling most dreadfully, while the cruel boy sat laughing at the mischief he had done. A gentleman who was looking from a window on the other side of the street, saw what the wicked boy had done. Opening the street door, he called to him to cross over, at the same time holding up a sixpence between his finger and thumb. "Would you like this?" said the gentleman. "Yes, if you please, sir," said the boy, smiling; and he hastily ran over to seize the money. Just at the moment that he stretched out his hand, he got so severe a rap on the knuckles from a cane which the gentleman had behind him, that he roared out like a bull. "What did you do that for?" said he, making a very long face, and rubbing his hand. "I didn't hurt you, nor ask you for the sixpence." "What did you hurt that poor dog for just now?" said the gentleman. "He didn't hurt you, nor ask you for your bread-and-butter. As you served him, I have served you. Now, remember dogs can feel as well as boys, and learn to behave kindly towards dumb animals in future."

(Great Thoughts.)

Herbert was yet of tender age when his father, the huntsman of Farmstein, was, in the heart of the forest, shot down by an unknown poacher. His mother brought up her fatherless boy as well as she could, and at the age of twenty, when he has become a skilful forester, he obtained his father's situation. It happened that one day, when Herbert was hunting in the forest with many hunters, he shot at a large stag, and missed it. Presently a voice exclaimed piteously in the copse, "Oh, heaven! I am shot." Herbert moved forward, and found an old man who was uttering loud groans, as he lay covered with blood. The whole company of hunters gathered around the dying man. Herbert, however, knelt down beside him and begged his forgiveness, protesting that he had not seen him. The dying man, however, said, "I have nothing to forgive you, for that which has hitherto been concealed from all the world shall now come to light. I am the poacher who shot your father just here, under this old oak. The very ground where we now are was dyed with his blood; and it has evidently been destined that you, the son of the murdered man, should on this precise spot, without any thought or intention of such a thing, avenge the act on me. God is just!" he exclaimed, and presently expired.

"A Teuton made a little fortune here not long ago in the milk business, and decided to return to Germany and enjoy it in his old home. In the ship that was bearing him homeward was a mischievous monkey. The monkey, prying around one day, found a heavy bag and ran up to the masthead with it. The German clasped his hands in despair at seeing the bag; it was his money, all in gold. The monkey in a leisurely way pulled out a piece and flung it down to the deck, when the ex-milkman gathered it up. Then the beast tossed a second piece into the sea. Thus alternately the pieces went, one into the ocean and the next into the distracted man's pocket. 'Ah,' said the ex-milkman, as he pocketed just half of what he had started with, 'it is just. One-half of that milk I have sold was milk, and the money for it comes back; the other half was water, and half goes back to water.'"

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