22 Aug Fair Punishment For Causing Physical Harm
Offences punishable by death.
1) Intentional wrongful taking of human lives.
<Ex 21> 12 “Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death.
- The sanctity of life is important. Humans are created in the image of God, any wrongful killing of human lives is an assault on God Himself.
- Death penalty is meant to cultivate a high view of life instead of a low view.
<Ex 21> 13 However, if it is not done intentionally, but God lets it happen, they are to flee to a place I will designate.
14 But if anyone schemes and kills someone deliberately, that person is to be taken from my altar and put to death.
2) Death penalty for certain crimes which do not involve the taking of life.
(1) Physical attack on parents.
<Ex 21> 15 “Anyone who attacks their father or mother is to be put to death.
<Ex 21> 16 “Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession.
(3) Cursing parents.
<Ex 21> 17 “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.
3) Death penalty shows how much God hates sin, and how serious He is about punishing sin.
- Does anyone still not believe that the wages of sin is death, that God can put people to death because of sins?
- Good news: Though God hates sin so much, He forgives those who put their faith in Christ.
- Death penalty is exactly the harshest punishment that Christ, the sinless Son of God, bore on our behalf.
Laws concerning personal injuries.
1) Human to human injuries.
<Ex 21> 18 “If people quarrel and one person hits another with a stone or with their fist and the victim does not die but is confined to bed,
19 the one who struck the blow will not be held liable if the other can get up and walk around outside with a staff; however, the guilty party must pay the injured person for any loss of time and see that the victim is completely healed.
20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.
22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows.
23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
26 “An owner who hits a male or female slave in the eye and destroys it must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye. 27 And an owner who knocks out the tooth of a male or female slave must let the slave go free to compensate for the tooth.
2) Injuries caused by or to animals.
<Ex 21> 28 “If a bull gores a man or woman to death, the bull is to be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible.
29 If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull is to be stoned and its owner also is to be put to death. 30 However, if payment is demanded, the owner may redeem his life by the payment of whatever is demanded.
31 This law also applies if the bull gores a son or daughter.
32 If the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull is to be stoned to death.
33 “If anyone uncovers a pit or digs one and fails to cover it and an ox or a donkey falls into it, 34 the one who opened the pit must pay the owner for the loss and take the dead animal in exchange.
35 “If anyone’s bull injures someone else’s bull and it dies, the two parties are to sell the live one and divide both the money and the dead animal equally.
36 However, if it was known that the bull had the habit of goring, yet the owner did not keep it penned up, the owner must pay, animal for animal, and take the dead animal in exchange.
Fairness in punishment.
- Justice does not discriminate against any offender or victim.
- “Eye for eye” law <Ex 21:23-25>. [Latin: Lex Talionis, also called “talion law”]
- “Eye for eye” law different from revenge, but designed to prevent disproportionate punishment.
- The punishment should match the severity of the offence.
- The talion law also guards against anyone who tries to use money to get away with wrongdoings.
- Except for “a life for a life”, the other parts like “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise” are usually not administered literally.
Consider intentionality in administering justice.
- Degree of punishment for intentional offences different from accidental or negligent offences.
God’s laws are designed for people to live ‘responsible’ lives.
God’s laws help us understand God’s love and justice better.
- God is reasonable when meting out punishment. God never does wrong nor wrongs anyone, including in His final eternal judgment.
- His punishment is never excessive, but His mercy always exceeds what we deserve.