An Eye for an Eye
Exodus 21:23-26
And if any mischief follow, then you shall give life for life,…

etc. (cf. Matthew 5:38-43). The principle here enunciated is that of the jus talionis. Stripped of its concrete form, it is simply the assertion of the dictate of justice, that when a wrong has been done to anyone, and through him to society, an adequate compensation ought to be rendered. So rendered, it is the principle underlying every system of criminal jurisprudence. We need not suppose that (in Jewish society) it was ever literally acted upon. Commutations of various kinds would be admitted (cf. ver. 30). As a rule for courts of justice, therefore, this principle must remain. Bat error arises when this rule, intended for the regulation of public justice, is transferred into private life, and is applied there to sanction the spirit of revenge. This is to pervert it from its proper purpose. So far from sanctioning private retaliation, the object of this law is to set limits to the passion for revenge, by taking the right to avenge out of the hands of private individuals altogether, and committing it to public officers. In contrast with the retaliatory disposition, our Lord inculcates on his disciples a forbearing and forgiving spirit; a spirit which seeks to overcome by love; a spirit, even, which is willing to forego legal rights, whenever by doing so, it can promote the good of a fellow man. - J.O.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,

WEB: But if any harm follows, then you must take life for life,

The Requirement of Strict Equivalents in Making Compensation for Injuries
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