2007-10-23

Exodus 21.22

This is a cartoon doing the rounds amongst non-Christian / progressive thinkers. They apparently see Exodus 21.22 as being contradictory to the idea that Abortion is the killing of a human being.

Usually I'm the one telling Christians that they're reading the Bible improperly, but in this case I've got to pick a rather large hole in this argument from unbelievers.

It's important to read not just verse 22, but the surrounding verses that continue on the line of thought. Here we go, Exodus 21.22-25:
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. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
One important thing to understand here is what it means by "her children come out". The comic above translates it as miscarry, but the word can mean both miscarry and premature birth.

The other important thing to understand here is when it says "harm". Who is being harmed here? The woman or the baby?

Let's assume a pregnant woman is attacked by men and then gives birth prematurely. But let's also assume that the baby lives. In that case, "there is no harm", and only a fine is required. However "if there is harm", then we get the "life for life" phrase.

Notice that there are two consequences of this action: a fine set by judges if there is "no harm", and death if there "is harm". It is illogical to assume that the "harm" being described here is harm to the pregnant woman, since it is obvious that she has been beaten up and given birth prematurely. The issue of "harm" therefore has to do with the baby, since it is the only person that has a chance of being unharmed.

All this, of course, reinforces the belief that the Bible views an unborn baby as a human being.

6 comments:

Lisa - Mother of Nine said...

Rabbi Balfour Brickner, senior rabbi emeritus at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, New York, NY, claims the Hebrew Bible deals explicitly with abortion in Exodus: 21.22. He claims the meaning of this text is straightforward. Only monetary compensation is exacted from whoever causes a woman to miscarry. Since the unborn fetus is not considered a person, the one responsible cannot be held liable for the taking of human life and certainly not for murder.
You are correct that the verse actually says, "When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, (or are born prematurely) 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." Verse 23 - "But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
Twisting the actual words of Scripture to suit ones own agenda is further aggravated by the picking and choosing of which verses to quote. Isn't it interesting that those that choose to use this verse as an argument against abortion choose to ignore the verses surrounding it, such as Ex. 21:20-21, "When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money." and verse 17, "Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.
And - what is this cartoon with two apparently Muslim men in bed together, seemingly naked and one of them reading a Bible? Isn't that an extremely offensive depiction to the Muslim community? What were the "non-Christian / progressive thinking" creators of this cartoon thinking?

http://servingthekingstea.blogspot.com

Steven said...

Lisa, Mother of Nine, as a pro-choice Christian pacifist I, too, am offended by the "South Park" style straw men who, it appears to me, are supposed to represent Jesus (note the crown of thorns) and Muhammed (his pictorial representation is in itself notoriously offensive to many Muslims) reading each other's scriptures. Their being in bed may or may not be meant to have prurient overtones ("strange bedfellows" may be the only point).
What does compel honest and careful self-examination is the fact that regarding abortion, the fact that males have historically just assumed the right to make such personal and far-reaching decisions for females speaks to our attitude of entitlement, which we fiecely resist extending reciprocally to females. "How fiercely," you might ask? Let's just point out that while there are famines and natural disasters, for most women, most of the time, the greatest danger in (and to)their lives is usually from the men in their lives.

Steven said...

Lisa, Mother of Nine, as a pro-choice Christian pacifist I, too, am offended by the "South Park" style straw men who, it appears to me, are supposed to represent Jesus (note the crown of thorns) and Muhammed (his pictorial representation is in itself notoriously offensive to many Muslims) reading each other's scriptures. Their being in bed may or may not be meant to have prurient overtones ("strange bedfellows" may be the only point).
What does compel honest and careful self-examination is the fact that regarding abortion, the fact that males have historically just assumed the right to make such personal and far-reaching decisions for females speaks to our attitude of entitlement, which we fiecely resist extending reciprocally to females. "How fiercely," you might ask? Let's just point out that while there are famines and natural disasters, for most women, most of the time, the greatest danger in (and to)their lives is usually from the men in their lives.

Steven said...

Lisa, Mother of Nine, as a pro-choice Christian pacifist I, too, am offended by the "South Park" style straw men who, it appears to me, are supposed to represent Jesus (note the crown of thorns) and Muhammed (his pictorial representation is in itself notoriously offensive to many Muslims) reading each other's scriptures. Their being in bed may or may not be meant to have prurient overtones ("strange bedfellows" may be the only point).
What does compel honest and careful self-examination is the fact that regarding abortion, the fact that males have historically just assumed the right to make such personal and far-reaching decisions for females speaks to our attitude of entitlement, which we fiecely resist extending reciprocally to females. "How fiercely," you might ask? Let's just point out that while there are famines and natural disasters, for most women, most of the time, the greatest danger in (and to)their lives is usually from the men in their lives.

Dr. Jim Kinnebrew said...

Steven the pro-choice Christian, as a vegetarian, I just love a good ribeye every night.

Dr. Jim Kinnebrew said...

Steven the pro-choice Christian, as a vegetarian, I just love a good ribeye every night.