Book of Exodus
Book of Exodus Law and Society Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (NRSV 21:23-25)
And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (KJV 21:23-25)
Sound familiar? These are some of the most famous lines in the Bible. Now look at the surrounding passages and ask yourself the following question: does the passage want this form of justice to be imposed by communities or by judges? Is this a book of principles or a legal handbook?
Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient." (NRSV 24:7)
And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. (KJV 24:7)
When it comes to legal issues in the Bible, the writer has absolute authority. He can go on and on and on about the exact way to kill your goat. Or he can do what he does in this passage: not tell us a thing.
When God finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God. (NRSV 31:18)
And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. (KJV 31:18)
In the ancient world, law was conveyed on stone. Rocks last forever in human terms, and so putting your rules on a rock is giving them some hefty and lasting value. In fact, archaeologists know how to read the ancient Egyptian language because of the Rosetta Stone, a multi-lingual law-rock.
P.S. Did God actually write these? Is that finger literal or metaphorical?