by Robert Brow  (www.brow.on.ca)    Aurora, Ontario         June 2008

 In its original context (Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:19-20, Deuteronomy
 19:16-21) this was a rule for judges in determining equivalent
 compensation. But there is not one case in Jewish history of a judge
 ordering an eye to be gouged out, or a tooth extracted by way of
 compensation. If you assaulted me and knocked my eye out, the judge
 would have to decide what you should pay. $100 would be too little; a
 million dollars might be too much. This is still the way judges have
 to rule in a claim for damages.

 The problem was that this principle of legal compensation was made
 into a justification for taking revenge in trivial matters. Jesus
 offered a quite different model for us to live by. "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 an evil doer. But if anyone strikes you on
 the right cheek, turn the other also" (Matthew 5:38-39). This was not
 designed to dismantle our justice system. The example Jesus gave was a
 case of personal insult (as an insult the right cheek was slapped with
 the back of the hand). Rather than start a feud, he suggests "Here is
 my other cheek." This immediately defuses the quarrel. It is obvious
that many family feuds would be ended by this kind of approach.

Robert Brow
e-mail : browr@brow.on.ca
web site : www.brow.on.ca

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