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sixteen
Sep 28th 2008, 07:31 PM
Here's a few different versions of the verse:

(ESV) Exo 21:22 "When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman's husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine.

(KJV) Exo 21:22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

(ASV) Exo 21:22 And if men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow; he shall be surely fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

I'm just wondering who exactly it's talking about when it uses the word "harm". Harm to the mother or harm to the baby?

Also note the verse directly after it: Exo 21:23 But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life,

And what about her fruit departing from her? Does that mean "miscarriage" or just literally "the baby came out"? The verse could be saying that if the fetus comes out and it's harmed, that's considered a miscarriage, but if it comes out and it's not harmed, then it's not a miscarriage. But if it's talking about the harm done to the mother and not the fetus, then we would of course assume the "depart" part of the verse is referring to a miscarriage.

The two possibilities:

depart = miscarriage, so "harm" refers to harm to the mother

or

depart = 'come out of', so "harm" could refer to harm to the mother or it could refer to harm to the fetus, which would indicate whether the fetus is dead or alive.

Looking at this from a practical standpoint, punching a woman would definitely indicate a miscarriage if the fetus came out. Even though the Hebrew word that is used doesn't specifically list "miscarriage" as one of the possible meanings, looking at the verse figuratively would definitely indicate that a miscarriage did occur.

H3318
יצא
yâtsâ'
yaw-tsaw'
A primitive root; to go (causatively bring) out, in a great variety of applications, literally and figuratively, direct and proximate: - X after, appear, X assuredly, bear out, X begotten, break out, bring forth (out, up), carry out, come (abroad, out, thereat, without), + be condemned, depart (-ing, -ure), draw forth, in the end, escape, exact, fail, fall (out), fetch forth (out), get away (forth, hence, out), (able to, cause to, let) go abroad (forth, on, out), going out, grow, have forth (out), issue out, lay (lie) out, lead out, pluck out, proceed, pull out, put away, be risen, X scarce, send with commandment, shoot forth, spread, spring out, stand out, X still, X surely, take forth (out), at any time, X to [and fro], utter.


So yeah, what do you think?

Ethnikos
Sep 28th 2008, 07:57 PM
A little late to be making amendments to the Mosaic Law. Do you have a larger point, like you think the law is unjust? Otherwise I am not sure this is too important unless you were appointed judge or elected to Congress.

sixteen
Sep 28th 2008, 08:21 PM
Well I don't see how I might be amending anything really, rather I'm trying to interpret what I've read. The implications are serious if you take this verse one way as opposed to the opposite. In one case, you have a miscarriage and a slap on the wrist as punishment, yet in the other, if the woman dies, you are put to death as well. It would seem that God is valuing a grown woman's life over a fetus's because if the fetus dies, it's a light punishment, yet if the woman dies, it's death. Really, it's quite possible that God doesn't value the life of the fetus at all and that the punishment in the first case is merely due to the inconvenience caused by the miscarriage.

But of course, you avoid this criticism if "depart" means "come out" and not necessarily "miscarriage", which would mean "harm" is used as an indication as to whether or not the child is alive or dead. In this case, it would mean that God does value the child's life because if it dies, there is severe punishment.

This would be important to anyone who has an opinion about abortion.

Ethnikos
Sep 28th 2008, 09:16 PM
Really, it's quite possible that God doesn't value the life of the fetus at all and that the punishment in the first case is merely due to the inconvenience caused by the miscarriage.

This passage is very vague because very few original Hebrew words are stretched out to be made into a sentence we would understand at all.
This is apparently not something that people want to comment on (in an official capacity) and that may be why you are asking.
The main concept or whatever, that is attempted in this passage is the idea of equal compensation. So, using that concept to interpret the verses, you would have to say that the life of an unborn child is not equal to the life of a full grown man, but a woman's life, who was of child bearing capacity, is.

keck553
Sep 29th 2008, 05:58 PM
Well I don't see how I might be amending anything really, rather I'm trying to interpret what I've read. The implications are serious if you take this verse one way as opposed to the opposite. In one case, you have a miscarriage and a slap on the wrist as punishment, yet in the other, if the woman dies, you are put to death as well. It would seem that God is valuing a grown woman's life over a fetus's because if the fetus dies, it's a light punishment, yet if the woman dies, it's death. Really, it's quite possible that God doesn't value the life of the fetus at all and that the punishment in the first case is merely due to the inconvenience caused by the miscarriage.

But of course, you avoid this criticism if "depart" means "come out" and not necessarily "miscarriage", which would mean "harm" is used as an indication as to whether or not the child is alive or dead. In this case, it would mean that God does value the child's life because if it dies, there is severe punishment.

This would be important to anyone who has an opinion about abortion.

Why would it be important to anyone unless they want to play God?

Steve M
Oct 1st 2008, 01:55 PM
Why would it be important to anyone unless they want to play God?
Maybe it's important to know what God would have us do, or what His opinion on a given matter is.

...

Sixteen, I think you've laid it out pretty well, the options on both sides of this verse. Here's what I think is key to coming down on one side or the other.

Look at how seriously the Levitical law took the matter of keeping family lines intact. If a died without children, and he had a wife, it was his brother's duty to keep his seedline alive by taking his brother's wife and giving her children. (see Onan--God took it very seriously indeed)

If that's the case, and this were saying that there is no debt in the case of miscarriage, wouldn't the penalty be set greater if it would be the oldest child, carrying on the line? (i.e., if the couple was otherwise childless)

But there's no gradiations of punishment here.

markedward
Oct 1st 2008, 05:39 PM
Nothing in the original Hebrew suggests that the infant was dead (i.e., miscarried) during the events... only, as you caught on, that it "came out". Basically, when I read this I see it describing a premature birth, and then saying "If no more 'mischief' follows" (i.e., the child isn't harmed) then the man is simply to be fined money.