Biblical Translation Copyright disclaimers
Explaining how in both the Old Testament (Tanakh) and the New Testament that the well known phrases ‘…eye for an eye…’ and ‘…tooth for tooth…’ etc. do not instruct a person to retaliate with violence.
Rather, the Tanakh (Old Testament) is typically speaking of reimbursement of medical expenses, and the New Testament encourages one to go even higher by forgiving an enemy and not demand such medical expenses or be litigious etc.
This agrees with other verses such as from the book of Proverbs which encourage kindness to enemies.
The commandment of stoning will also be touched upon and Holy Scripture will show how a stone cannot really be thrown – especially for one seeking everlasting life without end at his/her resurrection.
If Read Incorrectly, Sin Can Arise
If read in a mistaken way, phrases like ‘eye for an eye’, ‘tooth for tooth’, and measure for measure – can result in a sinful, violent lifestyle filled with anger.
Here’s a portion of a commandment which features some of these famous phrases;
But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
Exodus 21:23-25 NIV
Peace In The Old Testament
Verses from the Tanakh (Old Testament) which give insight into how one is instructed to be peaceable with people – including emenies are;
Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done.”
Proverbs 24:29 ESV
If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
Proverbs 25:21 ESV
The New Testament Explains How To Understand The Old Testament (Tanakh) Commandment
The New Testament explains how to interpret these phrases which can easily be misunderstood on first glance, further – where one is instructed to not be of a violent manner;
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Matthew 5:38-39 ESV
Explanation: ‘You have likley heard and/or read the commandment – however what it really means is that if someone slaps you on the right cheek, do not go and seek to then slap him on his right cheek (i.e. ‘eye for eye’ if misunderstood).
Rather, be peaceable instead and do not demand damages or be litigious – despite you being lawfully and technically allowed.
Instead, go higher and exceed in your good conduct by forgiving your enemy just as G-d forgave you when you believed in Messiah (Christ) and repented (Ephesians 4:32) – that is, G-d forgave all your offences and dismissed the legal penalties due for each one;
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32 NIV
‘by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands….’
(Colossians 2:14 ESV)
This is what it means by the expression ‘turn to him the other cheek also’; it means forgiveness and such exceeding in conduct/righteousness (ref. Matthew 5:19-20).
This instruction does not cancel the commandment we have just read in Exodus 21:23-25 with regard to reimbursement of medical expenses etc.
It does however assist a person with the approach – which when applied, assists one in Scripturally exceeding the conduct that perhaps traditionally might be displayed and advised by a dear scribe or Pharisee who does not yet believe in Messiah (Christ).
Ensuring best practice of observance is the role of a Rabbi, and who better than the King Rabbi Messiah (Christ) to speak on such (ref. John 12:49)!
Now that we have the instructed approach of how one is to be peaceable in response to someone who might have sinned against us, we can further understand the passage(s) from the law of Moses which feature phrase within the commandment such as ‘…eye for eye…tooth for tooth…’ (Exodus 21:23-25 etc.).
A believer is considered a disciple of Christ (Messiah), and one is to observe the instructions he has left (Isaiah 50:10, John 14:15);
‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them… teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you… Amen.’
(Matthew 28:19-20 KJV)
What Do They Say?
In this instance, Scribes and Pharisees who comment on Holy Scripture – such as ‘Ramban’ and perhaps ‘Rashi’, state that this commandment and its’ well known phrases perhaps actually relate to medical expenses and the like, and not violent retaliation ( ref. www.sefaria.org/Exodus.21.24?ven=The_Contemporary_Torah,_Jewish_Publication_Society,_2006&vhe=Miqra_according_to_the_Masorah&with=Ramban&lang=bi&aliyot=0 )
This reimbursement would also perhaps cover loses from being out of work during healing and the like.
Such authorities and commentators should be listened to, weighed, and observed soberly (ref. Matthew 23:1-3) – soberly, as all born of man’s seed here are prone to making errors and sinning (ref. Ecclesiastes 7:20, Leviticus 4:22).
Peace, What About Stoning etc.?
It is true there is the death penalty in the law of Moses for serious offences, and stoning is one such penalty;
‘…with stones… On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses… The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death…’
(Deuteronomy 17:5-7 ESV)
Once Messiah (Christ) was revealed in the earth, and he spoke on these matters, he did not cancel them – but rather undertook the role of a Rabbi and put a criteria on such a matter that is in agreement with the full scope of Holy Scripture;
Christ stated that the witnesses who are to be throwing the first stones, must be without sin;
And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
John 8:7 ESV
As Ecclesiastes 7:20 states that there is not even one just man on the earth who does good and does not sin. Such essentially means that all men born of a man’s seed here are not perfect, and thus have a sinful nature (sin being found within such).
A believer seeking everlasting life without end, which is now available and freely given to all who believe in G-d and in Christ (Isaiah 50:10, John 14:1) – is also instructed to not live a life of violence (ref. Matthew 25:52).
Hoping it is fruitful with you. Shalom.
May the holy G-d bless you beyond maximum, believing in His risen Son the Lord Jesus Christ (Adonai Yehoshua HaMoshiach). Amen.
‘…Here is the brief, linked summary of the subject verses which are covered here in this article;
• Isaiah 41:8-9 – Nation (plural)
• Isaiah 43:10 – Nation (plural)
• Isaiah 44:1-2 – Nation (plural)
• Isaiah 44:21 – Nation (plural)
• Isaiah 45:4 – Nation (plural)
• Isaiah 48:20 – Nation (plural)
• Isaiah 49:3 – Messiah (Christ) (singular)
• Isaiah 49:5 – interpretation included in Isaiah 49:3 explanation.
• Isaiah 49:8 & 42:6 – Messiah (Christ) (singular)
• Isaiah 50:10 – Messiah (Christ) (singular)
• Isaiah 52:13 – Messiah (Christ) (singular)
• Isaiah 53:10 & 53:11 – Messiah (Christ) (singular)
• Christ’s/Messiah’s resurrection in Isaiah 53…’