Matthew 5:38
You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(38) An eye for an eye.—Here again the scribes first took their stand on the letter, regardless of the aim and purpose, of the Law, and then expanded it in a wrong direction. As originally given, it was a check on the “wild justice” of revenge. It said, where the equilibrium of right had been disturbed by outrage, that the work of the judge was not to do more than restore the equilibrium, unless, as in the case of theft, some further penalty was necessary for the prevention of crime. It was, in its essence, a limit in both directions. Not less than the “eye for an eye,” for that might lead to connivance in guilt; not more, for that would open a fresh score of wrong. The scribes in their popular casuistry made the rule one not of judicial action only, but of private retaliation; and it was thus made the sanction of the vindictive temper that forgives nothing.

Matthew

NON-RESISTANCE

Matthew 5:38-42
.

The old law directed judges to inflict penalties precisely equivalent to offences-’an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’ {Exodus 21:24}, but that direction was not for the guidance of individuals. It was suited for the stage of civilisation in which it was given, and probably was then a restriction, rather than a sanction, of the wild law of retaliation. Jesus sweeps it away entirely, and goes much further than even its abrogation. For He forbids not only retaliation but even resistance. It is unfortunate that in this, as in so many instances, controversy as to the range of Christ’s words has so largely hustled obedience to them out of the field, that the first thought suggested to a modern reader by the command ‘Resist not evil’ {or, an evil man} is apt to be, Is the Quaker doctrine of uniform non-resistance right or wrong, instead of, Do I obey this precept? If we first try to understand its meaning, we shall be in a position to consider whether it has limits, springing from its own deepest significance, or not. What, then, is it not to resist? Our Lord gives three concrete illustrations of what He enjoins, the first of which refers to insults such as contumelious blows on the cheek, which are perhaps the hardest not to meet with a flash of anger and a returning stroke; the second of which refers to assaults on property, such as an attempt at legal robbery of a man’s undergarment; the third of which refers to forced labour, such as impressing a peasant to carry military or official baggage or documents-a form of oppression only too well known under Roman rule in Christ’s days. In regard to all three cases, He bids His disciples submit to the indignity, yield the coat, and go the mile. But such yielding without resistance is not to be all. The other cheek is to be given to the smiter; the more costly and ample outer garment is to be yielded up; the load is to be carried for two miles. The disciple is to meet evil with a manifestation, not of anger, hatred, or intent to inflict retribution, but of readiness to submit to more. It is a hard lesson, but clearly here, as always, the chief stress is to be laid, not on the outward action, but on the disposition, and on the action mainly as the outcome and exhibition of that. If the cheek is turned, or the cloak yielded, or the second mile trudged with a lowering brow, and hate or anger boiling in the heart, the commandment is broken. If the inner man rises in hot indignation against the evil and its doer, he is resisting evil more harmfully to himself than is many a man who makes his adversary’s cheeks tingle before his own have ceased to be reddened. We have to get down into the depths of the soul, before we understand the meaning of non-resistance. It would have been better if the eager controversy about the breadth of this commandment had oftener become a study of its depth, and if, instead of asking, ‘Are we ever warranted in resisting?’ men had asked, ‘What in its full meaning is non-resistance?’ The truest answer is that it is a form of Love,-love in the face of insults, wrongs, and domineering tyranny, such as are illustrated in Christ’s examples. This article of Christ’s New Law comes last but one in the series of instances in which His transfiguring touch is laid on the Old Law, and the last of the series is that to which He has been steadily advancing from the first-namely, the great Commandment of Love. This precept stands immediately before that, and prepares for it. It is, as suffused with the light of the sun that is all but risen, ‘Resist not evil,’ for ‘Love beareth all things.’

It is but a shallow stream that is worried into foam and made angry and noisy by the stones in its bed; a deep river flows smooth and silent above them. Nothing will enable us to meet ‘evil’ with a patient yielding love which does not bring the faintest tinge of anger even into the cheek reddened by a rude hand, but the ‘love of God shed abroad in the heart,’ and when that love fills a man, ‘out of him will flow a river of living water,’ which will bury evil below its clear, gentle abundance, and, perchance, wash it of its foulness. The ‘quality of’ this non-resistance ‘is twice blessed,’ ‘it blesseth him that gives and him that takes.’ For the disciple who submits in love, there is the gain of freedom from the perturbations of passion, and of steadfast abiding in the peace of a great charity, the deliverance from the temptation of descending to the level of the wrong-doer, and of losing hold of God and all high visions. The tempest-ruffled sea mirrors no stars by night, nor is blued by day. If we are to have real communion with God, we must not flush with indignation at evil, nor pant with desire to shoot the arrow back to him that aimed it at us. And in regard to the evil-doer, the most effectual resistance is, in many cases, not to resist. There is something hid away somewhere in most men’s hearts which makes them ashamed of smiting the offered left cheek, and then ashamed of having smitten the right one. ‘It is a shame to hit him, since he does not defend himself,’ comes into many a ruffian’s mind. The safest way to travel in savage countries is to show oneself quite unarmed. He that meets evil with evil is ‘overcome of evil’; he that meets it with patient love is likely in most cases to ‘overcome evil with good.’ And even if he fails, he has, at all events, used the only weapon that has any chance of beating down the evil, and it is better to be defeated when fighting hate with love than to be victorious when fighting it with itself, or demanding an eye for an eye.

But, if we take the right view of this precept, its limitations are in itself. Since it is love confronting, and seeking to transform evil into its own likeness, it may sometimes be obliged by its own self not to yield. If turning the other cheek would but make the assaulter more angry, or if yielding the cloak would but make the legal robber more greedy, or if going the second mile would but make the press-gang more severe and exacting, resistance becomes a form of love and a duty for the sake of the wrong-doer. It may also become a duty for the sake of others, who are also objects of love, such as helpless persons who otherwise would be exposed to evil, or society as a whole. But while clearly that limit is prescribed by the very nature of the precept, the resistance which it permits must have love to the culprit or to others as its motive, and not be tainted by the least suspicion of passion or vengeance. Would that professing Christians would try more to purge their own hearts, and bring this solemn precept into their daily lives, instead of discussing whether there are cases in which it does not apply! There are great tracts in the lives of all of us to which it should apply and is not applied; and we had better seek to bring these under its dominion first, and then it will be time enough to debate as to whether any circumstances are outside its dominion or not.Matthew 5:38-42. Ye have heard, &c. — Our Lord proceeds to enforce such meekness and love toward their enemies, on those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, as were utterly unknown to the scribes and Pharisees. And this subject he pursues to the end of the chapter. It hath been said, viz., in the law, Deuteronomy 19:21, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth — Though this statute was only intended as a direction to judges, with regard to the penalties to be inflicted in case of violent and barbarous assaults; yet it was interpreted among the Jews as encouraging a rigorous and severe revenge of every injury a man might receive. But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil — Or, rather, the evil man, as τω πονηρω ought to be rendered. Dr. Doddridge reads the clause: That you do not set yourselves against the injurious person, viz., in a posture of hostile opposition, as the word αντιστηναι implies, and with a resolution to return evil for evil. But whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, &c. — Where the damage is not great, choose rather to pass it by, though possibly it might, on that account, be repeated, than to enter into a rigorous prosecution of the offender. And if any man will sue thee, &c., and take away thy coat — By the word χιτων, here rendered coat, it seems we are to understand an inner garment; and by the word, ιματιον, rendered cloak, an outer garment. Dr. Doddridge renders the former, vest, and the latter, mantle. They are parts of dress, under different names, still used in Barbary, Egypt, and the Levant. See Shaw’s Travels, pp. 289, 292. Our Lord, it is to be observed, is not here speaking of a robber attacking a person on the highway, to whom it would be natural to take the outer garment first, but of a person suing another at law, as our translators seem properly to have rendered κριθηναι. The meaning of the whole passage evidently is, rather than return evil for evil: when the wrong is purely personal, submit to one bodily injury after another, give up one part of your goods after another, submit to one instance of compulsion after another. That the words, Turn to him the other cheek also, (and consequently those in the next clause,) are not to be taken literally, appears from the behaviour of our Lord himself, John 18:22-23. Give to him, that asketh thee, &c. — Give and lend to any that are in want, so far, (but no farther, for God never contradicts himself,) as is consistent with thy engagements to thy creditors, thy family, and the household of faith.

Upon the whole of this passage, from Matthew 5:38, we may observe, that it seems to have been primarily intended to counteract and correct that abuse of the law of retaliation above mentioned, which was common among the Jews, who carried their resentments to the utmost lengths; and, by so doing, maintained infinite quarrels, to the great detriment of social life. For this purpose, our Lord “puts five cases wherein Christian meekness must especially show itself. 1st, When any one assaults our person, in resentment of some affront he imagines we have put upon him. 2d, When any one sues us at the law, in order to take our goods from us. 3d, When he attacks our natural liberty. 4th, When one who is poor asks charity. 5th, When a neighbour begs the loan of something from us. In all these cases our Lord forbids us to resist. Yet, from the examples which he mentions, it is plain that this forbearance and compliance are required only when we are slightly attacked, but by no means when the assault is of a capital kind. For it would be unbecoming the wisdom which Jesus showed in other points, to suppose that he forbids us to defend ourselves against murderers, robbers, and oppressors, who would unjustly take away our life, our estate, or our liberty. Neither can it be thought that he commands us to give every idle fellow all he may think fit to ask, whether in charity or in loan. We are only to give what we can spare, and to such persons as out of real necessity ask relief from us. Nay, our Lord’s own behaviour toward the man that smote him on the cheek, shows he did not mean that in all cases his disciples should be passive under the very injuries which he here speaks of. In some circumstances, smiting on the cheek, taking away one’s coat, and the compelling one to go a mile, may be great injuries, and therefore are to be resisted. The first instance was judged so by Jesus himself in the case mentioned. For had he forborne to reprove the man who did it, his silence might have been interpreted as proceeding from a conviction of his having done evil, in giving the high priest the answer for which he was smitten.” But, admitting that this rule has for its object small injuries, and that our Lord orders his disciples to be passive under them rather than to repel them, it is liable to no objection: for he who “bears a slight affront, consults his honour and interest much better than he who resists or resents it; because he shows a greatness of mind worthy of a man, and uses the best means of avoiding quarrels, which oft-times are attended with the most fatal consequences. In like manner, he who yields a little of his right, rather than he will go to law, is much wiser than the man who has recourse to public justice in every instance; because, in the progress of a law-suit, such animosities may arise as are inconsistent with charity. To conclude, benevolence, which is the glory of the divine nature, and the perfection of the human, rejoices in doing good. Hence the man that is possessed of this god-like quality cheerfully embraces every occasion in his power of relieving the poor and distressed, whether by gift or loan. Some are of opinion, that the precept concerning alms-giving, and gratuitous lending, is subjoined to the instances of injuries which our Lord commands us to bear, to teach us that, if the persons who have injured us fall into want, we are not to withhold any act of charity from them on account of the evil they have formerly done us. Taken in this light, the precept is generous and divine. Moreover, as liberality is a virtue nearly allied to the forgiveness of injuries, our Lord joined the two together, to show that they should always go hand in hand. The reason is, revenge will blast the greatest liberality, and a covetous heart will show the most perfect patience to be a sordid meanness of spirit, proceeding from selfishness.” — Macknight.5:38-42 The plain instruction is, Suffer any injury that can be borne, for the sake of peace, committing your concerns to the Lord's keeping. And the sum of all is, that Christians must avoid disputing and striving. If any say, Flesh and blood cannot pass by such an affront, let them remember, that flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God; and those who act upon right principles will have most peace and comfort.An eye for an eye ... - This command is found in Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20, and Deuteronomy 19:21. In these places it was given as a rule to regulate the decisions of judges. They were to take eye for eye, and tooth for tooth, and to inflict burning for burning. As a judicial rule it is not unjust. Christ finds no fault with the rule as applied to magistrates, and does not take upon himself to repeal it. But instead of confining it to magistrates, the Jews had extended it to private conduct, and made it the rule by which to take revenge. They considered themselves justified by this rule to inflict the same injury on others that they had received. Our Saviour remonstrates against this. He declares that the law had no reference to private revenge, that it was given only to regulate the magistrate, and that their private conduct was to be governed by different principles.

The general principle which he laid down was, that we are not to resist evil; that is, as it is in the Greek, nor to set ourselves against an evil person who is injuring us. But even this general direction is not to be pressed too strictly. Christ did not intend to teach that we are to see our families murdered, or be murdered ourselves; rather than to make resistance. The law of nature, and all laws, human and divine, justify self-defense when life is in danger. It cannot surely be the intention to teach that a father should sit by coolly and see his family butchered by savages, and not be allowed to defend them. Neither natural nor revealed religion ever did, or ever can, inculcate this doctrine. Our Saviour immediately explains what he means by it. Had he intended to refer it to a case where life is in danger, he would most surely have mentioned it. Such a case was far more worthy of statement than those which he did mention.

A doctrine so unusual, so unlike all that the world had believed. and that the best people had acted on, deserved to be formally stated. Instead of doing this, however, he confines himself to smaller matters, to things of comparatively trivial interest, and says that in these we had better take wrong than to enter into strife and lawsuits. The first case is where we are smitten on the cheek. Rather than contend and fight, we should take it patiently, and turn the other cheek. This does not, however, prevent our remonstrating firmly yet mildly on the injustice of the thing, and insisting that justice should be done us, as is evident from the example of the Saviour himself. See John 18:23. The second evil mentioned is where a man is litigious and determined to take all the advantage the law can give him, following us with vexatious and expensive lawsuits. Our Saviour directs us, rather than to imitate him rather than to contend with a revengeful spirit in courts of justice to take a trifling injury, and yield to him. This is merely a question about property, and not about conscience and life.

Coat - The Jews wore two principal garments, an interior and an exterior. The interior, here called the "coat," or the tunic, was made commonly of linen, and encircled the whole body, extending down to the knees. Sometimes beneath this garment, as in the case of the priests, there was another garment corresponding to pantaloons. The coat, or tunic, was extended to the neck. and had long or short sleeves. Over this was commonly worn an upper garment, here called "cloak," or mantle. It was made commonly nearly square, of different sizes, 5 or 6 cubits long and as many broad, and was wrapped around the body, and was thrown off when labor was performed. If, said Christ, an adversary wished to obtain, at law, one of these garments, rather than contend with him let him have the other also. A reference to various articles of apparel occurs frequently in the New Testament, and it is desirable to have a correct view of the ancient mode of dress. in order to a proper understanding of the Bible. The Asiatic modes of dress are nearly the same from age to age, and hence it is not difficult to illustrate the passages where such a reference occurs. The ordinary dress consisted of the inner garment, the outer garment, the girdle (belt), and the sandals. In regard to the sandals, see the notes at Matthew 3:11.

In the girdle (belt) was the place of the pouch Matthew 10:9, and to it the sword and dirk were commonly attached. Compare 2 Samuel 20:8. In modern times the pistols are also fastened to the belt. It is the usual place for the handkerchief, smoking materials, inkhorn, and, in general, the implements of one's profession. The belt served to confine the loose-flowing robe or outer garment to the body. It held the garment when it was tucked up, as it was usually in walking or in labor. Hence, "to gird up the loins" became a significant figurative expression, denoting readiness for service, activity, labor, and watchfulness; and "to loosen the loins" denoted the giving way to repose and indolence, 2 Kings 4:29; Job 38:3; Isaiah 5:27; Luke 12:35; John 21:7.

Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile - The word translated "shall compel" is of Persian origin. Post-offices were then unknown. In order that the royal commands might be delivered with safety and despatch in different parts of the empire, Cyrus stationed horsemen at proper intervals on all the great public highways. One of those delivered the message to another, and intelligence was thus rapidly and safely communicated. These heralds were permitted to compel any person, or to press any horse, boat, ship, or other vehicle that they might need for the quick transmission of the king's commandments. It was to this custom that our Saviour refers. Rather, says he, than resist a public authority requiring your attendance and aid for a certain distance, go peaceably twice the distance.

A mile - A Roman mile was 1,000 paces.

Twain - Two.

38. Ye have heard that it hath been said—(Ex 21:23-25; Le 24:19, 20; De 19:21).

An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth—that is, whatever penalty was regarded as a proper equivalent for these. This law of retribution—designed to take vengeance out of the hands of private persons, and commit it to the magistrate—was abused in the opposite way to the commandments of the Decalogue. While they were reduced to the level of civil enactments, this judicial regulation was held to be a warrant for taking redress into their own hands, contrary to the injunctions of the Old Testament itself (Pr 20:22; 24:29).

This was the commandment of God to the magistrate, in case a woman with child were struck, and any mischief came of it, Exodus 21:24; in case of damage done to a neighbour, Leviticus 24:20; and in the case of false witness, Deu 19:21. But in the mean time God had said to private persons, Leviticus 19:18, Thou shalt not avenge; and it is said, Proverbs 24:29, Say not, I will do to him as he hath done to me. The Pharisees had interpreted this law of God into a liberty for every private person, who had been wronged by another, to exact a satisfaction upon him, provided that he did not exceed this proportion of taking an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, doing no more wrong to another than that other had done to him. Ye have heard that it hath been said,.... That is, to, or by them of old time, as is expressed in some of the foregoing instances,

an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, Exodus 21:24. This is "lex talionis", the "law of retaliation"; which, whether it is to be understood literally, or not, is a matter of question. The Baithuseans, or Sadducees, among the Jews, took it in a literal sense, and so does Josephus, who says (b), he that shall blind, i.e. put out a man's eyes, shall suffer the like. But the Jewish doctors generally understood it of paying a price equivalent to the damage done, except in case of life. R. Sol. Jarchi (c) explains the law thus:

"He that puts out his neighbour's eye, must give him , "the price of his eye", according to the price of a servant sold in the market; and so the same of them all; for, not taking away of the member is strictly meant.''

And, says Maimonides (d),

"if a man cuts off his neighbour's hand, or foot, he is to be considered as if he was a servant sold in a market; what he was worth then, and what he is worth now; and he must pay the diminution which is made of his price; as it is said, "eye for eye". From tradition it is learned, that this for, spoken of, is to be understood of paying money; this is what is said in the law, "as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again". Not that he is to be hurt, as he has hurt his neighbour; but inasmuch as he deserves to want a member, or to be hurt as he has done; therefore he ought to pay the damage.''

And Josephus himself (e) says, that he must be deprived of that, which he has deprived another of, except he that has his eye put out is willing to receive money; and which, he observes, the law allows of. The controversy about the sense of this law may be seen in a few words, as managed between R. Sandish Hagson, and Ben Zeta (f).

"Says R. Sandish, we cannot explain this verse according to its literal sense; for if a man should smite the eye of his neighbour, and the third part of the light of his eye should depart, how will he order it, to strike such a stroke, as that, without adding or lessening? perhaps he will put out the whole light of his eye. And it is yet more difficult with respect to burning, wound, and stripe; for should they be in a dangerous place the man might die but that is intolerable. Ben Zeta answers him, is it not written, in another place, "as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again?" To which Hagson replies, "in", is instead of "upon", or against; and lo! the sense is, so shall the punishment be upon him. Ben Zeta answers him again, as he does, so shall it be done to him. Hagson replies, behold Samson said, "as they have done to me, so will I do to them"; but Samson did not take their wives, and give them to others, he only rendered to them their reward: but Ben Zeta replies, if a poor man should smite, what must be his punishment? Hagson answers him, if a blind man should put out the eye of one that sees, what shall be done to him? as for the poor man, he may become rich, and pay, but the blind man can never pay.''

Now our Lord here, does not find fault with the law of retaliation, as delivered by Moses, but with the false gloss of the Scribes and Pharisees; who, as they interpreted it of pecuniary mulcts, as a compensation for the loss of a member, which sometimes exceeded all just and due bounds; so they applied it to private revenge, and in favour of it: whereas this law did not allow of a retaliation to be made, by private persons, at their pleasure, but by the civil magistrate only.

(b) Antiq. Jud. l. 4. c. 8. sect. 35. (c) In Exodus 21.24. (d) Hilchot Chebel. c. 1. sect. 2, 3.((e) In loc. supra citat. (f) In Aben Ezra in Exodus 21.24.

{9} Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

(9) He shows that contrary to the doctrine of the scribes, that the sum of the second table must be so understood, that we may in no wise render evil for evil, but rather suffer double injury, and do well to them that are our deadly enemies.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 5:38. Ὀφθαλμὸνὀδόντος] supply δώσει, which supplement is presupposed as well known from the saying referred to (see Exodus 21:24). In the usual formula (comp. also Leviticus 22:20; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21) is expressed the jus talionis, the carrying out of which was assigned to the magistracy (comp. 12. Tab.: “si membrum rupit, ni cum eo pacit, talio esto”). Instead of seeking and asserting this right before the magistracy, the Christian, in the feeling of true brotherly love, free from all desire of revenge, is to exercise self-denial, and to exhibit a self-sacrificing spirit of concession. Comp. 1 Corinthians 6:7. This principle of Christian morality, laid down absolutely as an ideal, by no means excludes, under the determining circumstances of sinful life, the duty of seeking one’s legal rights, as is clear, moreover, from the history of Christ and His apostles. That Jesus, moreover, is speaking against the misuse by the Pharisees of the legal standard, as a standard within the sphere of social life, is a groundless supposition of Luther, Beza, Calvin, Calovius, Bengel, B. Crusius, Keim, and others, especially as in Matthew 5:40 κριθῆναι follows. But certainly the Pharisees may, unlovingly enough, in cases occurring in social life, have claimed those rights before the magistracy, and have influenced others also to practise similar unloving conduct. Glosses in reference to the payment in money of legal talio, see in Lightfoot.Matthew 5:38-42. Fifth illustration, from the law of compensation. (b) The law of retaliation, 38–42.

38. An eye for an eye] See Exodus 21:24. The Scribes draw a false inference from the letter of the law. As a legal remedy the lex talionis was probably the best possible in a rude state of society. The principle was admitted in all ancient nations. But the retribution was exacted by a judicial sentence for the good of the community, not to gratify personal vengeance. The deduction that it was morally right for individuals to indulge revenge could not be justified.Matthew 5:38. Ὀφθαλμὸν, an eye) sc. Thou shalt require. In Exodus 21:24, the LXX. have ὀφθαλμὸν ἀντὶ ὀφθαλμοῦ, ὀδόντα ἀντὶ ὀδόντος, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The lex talionis was most suitable for punishments, as in the greater injury, murder, and in the less, theft, so also in that which stood midway between them. See Leviticus 24:20. Mutilation was frequent in punishments without reference to the principle of the lex talionis; why then should it not be used to carry out that principle itself? Cf. Judges 1:7.[222] Penalties would avail more, if human judgment did not depart so far from the wisdom, the equity, and the severity of the Divine law.

[222] What had been prescribed to the magistrate, that the Scribes allotted to private vengeance.—B. G. V.Verses 38-48. - The two remaining examples of the current teaching of the Law are very closely connected together, and, in fact, our Lord's corrections of them are intermingled in Luke 6:27-36. Yet the subjects are really distinct. In the first (vers. 38-42) our Lord speaks of the reception of injuries, in the second (vers. 43-48) of the treatment of those who do them. Godet's remarks (in his summary of Luke 6:27-45) on the use made by St. Luke of these examples are especially instructive. "These last two antitheses, which terminate in Matthew in the lofty thought (ver. 48) of man being elevated by love to the perfection of God, furnish Luke with the leading idea of the discourse as he presents it, namely, charity as the law of the new life." Verses 38-42. - The reception of injuries. The Law inculcated that the injured should obtain from those who did the wrong exact compensation (on this being properly a command, not merely a permission, vide Mozley, 'Ruling Ideas,' etc., pp. 182, sqq.). Our Lord inculcates giving up of all in-sistance upon one's rights as an injured person, and entire submission to injuries, even as far as proffering the opportunity for fresh wrongs. Verse 38. - An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. No short phrase could more accurately describe the spirit of the Mosaic legislation. Offences against individuals were to be punished by the injured individual receiving back, as it were, the exact compensation from him who had injured him. While this was originally observed literally, it was in Mishnic times (and probably in the time of our Lord) softened to payment of money (vide Lightfoot, 'Hor. Hebr.'). The phrase comes three times in the Pentateuch (Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21). Notice:

(1) The LXX. has the accusative in each case, although only in the first does a verb precede. Probably the expression had already become proverbial in Greek even before the translation of the LXX.

(2) The Hebrew of Deuteronomy 19:21 is slightly different from that of the other two passages, and as the preposition there used (ב) is not so necessarily rendered by ἀντί, that passage is perhaps the least likely of the three to have been in our Lord's mind now. It seems likely, however, that he was not thinking of any one of the three passages in particular. The words served him as a summary of the Law in this respect.
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