My Mum's Ancient Family Bible

My Mum's Ancient Family Bible
Kept in the garage of all places for so many years, it's finally been put to good use.

Friday, January 28, 2011

An Eye for an Eye and Other Great Rules to Live By (Exodus 21-23)

After God drops the Ten Commandments on the Israelites he plunges into a expansive discourse on what's right and what's wrong. And a lot of it has to do with how to treat your slaves.

For example, if a Hebrew buys a Hebrew slave then that slave is to serve for six years and be set free when the seventh year rolls around. If, in that six years, the slave happens to acquire a wife and family then he can't expect them to go with him. That's asking to much. If he's sassy enough to ask for their freedom then, "his master shall bring him to the door of the doorpost; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for life" (Exo 21:6). So he gets his ear pierced. Just one?

Now the famous passage in which the "eye for an eye" rule is found has a much different context than I originally thought. Basically, it applies to anyone who does harm to a pregnant woman. It reads as follows: "When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 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" (Exo 21:22-24). This is all well and good, but if I were God, I'd probably start with the importance of giving up your seat on the bus to a pregnant lady or a possible pregnant lady who might just be apple-shaped.

I learned a new word in Exodus 22 - bloodguilt. I love this word. It describes the uh-oh feeling you get after you've killed or seriously hurt someone, unless you're a sociopath.

Exodus 22 outlines what happens if you deflower a virgin. Basically, you're supposed to buy the cow. If that's not what daddy wants then you just pay the equivalent of a dowry. Probably a couple of goats. Easy.

If you have sex with an animal then you're supposed to be put to death; however, if the animal happened to accept a small gift in the form of peanut butter then you're off the hook.

Exodus 23 has one really weird rule: "You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk" (Exo 23:19). Would that even be appetizing? That is gross and gives me the same kind of gross feeling I get when I hear chickens are sometimes fed pieces of other chickens in factory farms. Gross.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Exo 23:19 is why people who keep strictly kosher (kashrut) have separate dishes (and sometimes separate dishwashers and even separate kitchens) for meat and dairy. Meat may not touch dairy, and utensils (with a few exceptions like glass that can be ritually cleaned) used with one cannot be used with another.

    There is a third state: things that are neither meat nor dairy (vegetables, for example). This state is temporary, however. Vegetables that come into contact with meat or with utensils used for meat become meat; vegetables that come into contact with dairy or with utensils used for dairy become dairy.

    Anything that comes into contact with both meat and dairy is equivalent to boiling a kid in its mother's milk.

    Cheeseburgers are out.

    Even more so bacon double cheeseburgers.