In Moses’ writing is what is often called the “Law of Retaliation”…
Exo 21:22-25 “If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But 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.
Pacifism is the belief that any violence is unjustifiable under any circumstances
Gandhi is reported to have said …
‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth will leave us all blind and toothless’.
Gandhi was a Hindu , & Hinduism (according to him) is the most tolerant & liberal religion.
Is Hinduism more virtuous than Judeo-Christian teaching & values?
In The Untouchables movie, Sean Connery plays a wise ol’ policeman, tutoring a rookie saying …
You wanna get Capone??? Here’s how you do it….. he pulls a knife…. you pull a gun …. He puts one of yours in the hospital… you put one of his in the morgue…. THAT’S the Chicago way and THAT’S how you get Capone!!!
In war or conflict, we often hear the boast… If they injure 1 of ours, we’ll kill 10 of theirs… if they kill 1 of ours, we’ll kill 100 of theirs!
When comparing Ghandi’s statement with the God of the Bible (speaking through Moses), we need to understand they are each speaking about something different! God is not promoting “gouging out eyes”! Instead God is proclaiming the concept of “limited retribution”. For the laws of the nation of Israel … Justice does not allow going beyond the original injury. We ALL might feel “self important” such that even a minor personal injury against “me” … deserves the Death Penalty for the offender! God says “No!” and limits retribution of personal injury to be in balance with the original offense – Not 10 times greater!
Jesus corrects several “wrong ideas” about the Law in his teachings … and he deals with the spirit behind what was called the Law of Retaliation head on: Matthew 5:38-42 ESV “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 the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
Paul puts it another way here … Romans 12:17-21 ESV Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Peter adds to the wisdom stating: 1 Peter 3:9 ESV Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
Luke also provides a lengthy quote of the Lord Jesus on the subject of loving your enemies …
Luk 6:27-36 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
So we see in the context of Moses words, and in the whole counsel of scripture, God is not demanding or advocating “an eye for an eye” He is limiting retribution or revenge to not exceed the original damage. What God does advocate is goodness & mercy on our part & for us to leave any revenge or retribution to God who can see the hearts of men and judge righteously. And … as Jesus promotes in His “Sermon on the Mount” … Mat_5:7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
For added help in understanding how Old Testament Law can be understood today …
Click Here for our article Which Old Testament Laws Apply Today?