When we read scripture and template it against modern times, it is amazing to watch science catch up to God’s Word. Even when it comes to medicine and warfare, God has it all figured out. But; why wouldn’t He, this is His world. One of these many examples is Numbers 31:19 where God says to warriors fresh off the battlefield “Pitch your tents outside the camp for seven days. Whoever has killed a person or touched the corpse of someone slain, purify yourselves on the third and seventh days, you and your captives”. It is interesting how God instituted quarantining 2,700 years before mankind would develop the concept1. Here we will address the two probable reasons why soldiers were quarantined, and how science caught up to Torah.
In 1847, a Doctor by the name of Ignaz Semmelweis was the director of a hospital ward in Vienna, Austria. What perplexed Ignaz was that the mothers of his physicians who delivered their babies, were experiencing a 18% death rate. Conversely, the midwives patience were only suffering a 3% death ratio2. Certainly his Doctors, who were more qualified than midwives, should have had a lower death percentage. After studying it, Ignaz’s determining factor was that many of the Doctors conducted autopsies and did not wash their hands after examining the corpses. This sounds peculiar, Doctors not cleaning their hands, but at this time Louis Pasteur had not discovered the germ yet. That wouldn’t happen until 1861. Even when science did figure it out, it would even take longer for them to know how to kill germs. For example, during the American Civil War (1861 – 1865) approximately 620,000 soldiers died. Yet, two-thirds 3 of these deaths were not the result of enemy fire, but of disease probably from unsanitary conditions. Interestingly enough, when we read Numbers 19:11-22 it is specific that one should clean themselves after handling a dead body. Likewise, Deuteronomy 23:13-14 talks about other methods, in camp, to control germs and disease. It is funny, but implementing these methods people had no idea they were killing germs. So, for the 3,300 plus years between the Exodus and American Civil War people who followed Torah must have looked at this practice of purifying one’s self more as ritualistic than scientific.
Please watch this 2 minute film “A Lesson To Remember” (part 3 of 11)
To make our next point, let’s leap from the American Civil War to the Vietnam War. Many believe that PTSD was so common after Vietnam and not after Korea or WWII because service members had a longer waiting period before coming home. As Josh Hochgesang, explains it “…in the previous wars soldiers were brought home on boats which took them a longer time to get home, thus they had more time to reflect on their experiences. By the time they arrived at home, they had already talked to fellow war buddies about the horrors that they experienced. They were able to talk about their feelings with somebody before they got home, which is what Vietnam veterans lacked. Instead, Vietnam veterans took a relatively short airplane ride home by themselves and really didn’t get a chance to talk with anyone who understood what they had been through. By the time they arrived at home, they didn’t feel comfortable talking to their families about their war experiences because they wouldn’t understand and would probably think less of him.”4. Bringing this to our time, the Afghanistan and Iraq (OEF & OIF) Wars, we haven’t changed. Within days after Special Operations Soldiers coming off the battlefield in Afghanistan, four killed their wives 5. Two of them then killed themselves.
Our military’s approach to the problem of warriors returning home with PTSD is to educate them. This concept will help, but warriors still do not have much lag time before reintegration with their families. If we compare our understanding of PTSD to our understanding of germs it will take a long time before our government will take on the concepts of Torah to solve this issue. Just remember, although we knew what a germ was at the beginning of the Civil War we didn’t do much about it. It took until World War 1 (52 years later) before combat casualties would outnumber victims of diseases (and not by much) 6. We are still on our learning curve, eventually God’s Word will win.
- “History of Quarantine.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. July 31, 2014. Accessed September 02, 2017.
- Butt, Kyle M., Div. “Don’t Touch Dead Bodies!” ApologeticsPress.org. Accessed September 02, 2017
- Dixon, Ina. “Civil War Medicine.” Civil War Trust. Accessed September 02, 2017.
- Hochgesang, Josh. “War & Peace: Media and War.” The Psychological Effects of the Vietnam War. Accessed September 01, 2017.
- Collins, Dan. “4 Wives Slain In 6 Weeks At Fort Bragg.” CBS News. July 31, 2002. Accessed September 01, 2017
- “War Casualties.” Dictionary of American History. Accessed September 02, 2017.
When we read the Tanakh, God clearly states “…do not add to what I am saying, and do not subtract from it.” – Deuteronomy 4:2. This maxim is so critical it is echoed throughout Tanakh (Deuteronomy 13:1, Joshua 1:7, Proverbs 30:6). Moses even goes as far as saying that God will be testing us, to ensure that we will follow His Word (Deuteronomy 13:2-6). Then we have Christianity where the Christian messiah claims “Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete.” – Matthew 5:17. Well, as they say, “the proof is in the pudding”. One should note, in these contradictions, that both add to and subtract from the law, they are not just small infractions. In many cases they change a whole theological thinking between Tanakh (Old Testament) and New Testament.
- An eye for an eye, etc. Ex.21:23-25; Lev.24:20; Deut.19:21
- Turn the other cheek. Mt.5:38-40; Lk.6:27-29.
- The circumcision covenant was forever. Gen.17:10-13.
- The circumcision covenant was of no importance. Gal.6:15.
- Priest Rent Clothes:
- The chief priest is not to rend his clothes. Lev.21:10.
- The chief priest rends his clothes at Jesus’ trial. Mt.26:65; Mk.14:63
- God wants repentance, not sacrifices: Isaiah 30:15, Psalm 51:18-19
- Jesus sacrifice took away sins. Heb 9:26-28, 10:12
- To Defraud:
- Defraud is not a commandment. Ex.20:3-17.
- Jesus lists “defraud not” as one of the commandments. Mk.10:19.
- Dead children were raised before the time of Jesus. 1 Kings 17:17-23; 2 Kings 4:32-37.
- Jesus was the first to be raised from the dead. Acts 26:23.
- The Righteous:
- Noah and Job were righteous. Gen.7:1, Job 1:1,8; Job 2:3
- No one is righteous. Rom.3:10,23; 1 Jn.1:8-10
The one difference between the Tanakh (Old Testament) and New Testament is that the Tanakh doesn’t need the New Testament, whereas the New Testament (NT)needs the Tanakh. The NT needs the Tanakh to validate its prophecy about their messiah. It also uses the Torah as a building block, to introduce it’s new theology or, as they call it , new covenant. But, as warned before, you cannot add to the Tanakh or take away from it. Even though in a Christian Bible both books are side by side the OT was canonized in the second century CE, whereas the NT was canonized in the fourth century CE. These are certainly two separate books and as the contradictions point out, two different theologies.
When we read the Tanakh, we stumble over this seemingly barbaric phrase an “eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth…” and so forth. This extreme statement is mentioned no fewer than three times in the Torah(Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:19-20, Deuteronomy 19:21). It seems to speak of a rigid God that gives no quarter. Even the Christian messiah tried to rewrite this maxim in his New Testament. But; as we know, isolating a phrase off a page from the Torah, gives leeway for misinterpretation. Although this statement appears to be straightforward, we owe it to God to not take it out of context. Let us delve into His Word and determine what this controversial phrase is truly saying.
Firstly, after we read the phrase “An eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21:24) two verses later (Exodus 21:26), we see an example of someone having their eye put out. However, here the ruling was not for the offender to have his eye poked out in retaliation. Instead the offender gave restitution to his victim. In this case, which dealt with slavery, the injured slaves were given their freedom as a consequence to their misfortune. So, did God contradict Himself in just three verses? No, it is that God’s justice is both perfect and complex, so it cannot be summed up in a single verse.
When we read Exodus 20, we of course have God’s Ten Commandments. This, however, was just the top ten lists. After the tablets were introduced, Exodus 21 through 23 gives a more comprehensive series of laws that are amazing and astute. Many of the concepts have even been turned into our own laws (The Torah Inspires America’s Laws). In these laws that were introduced to the Israelites over three millenniums ago, offenders were classified into three categories. The best modern day example would be vehicular homicide. For example, not every roadside death possesses the same level of culpability. Pretend you are driving, observing all the rules of the road, when somebody darts into traffic from a blind corner and you kill them. This would be an accidental or unintentional death. Whereas, if you killed somebody because you were drunk or texting. Granted you didn’t mean to kill them, but you did it from recklessness, thus this would be a killing from neglect. Finally, let’s say you intentionally killed somebody with your car, maybe for revenge or money. Regardless, the penalty for this intentional killing should be more severe than the previous two.
The Torah was written with these same precepts in mind. As we read through these articles we will find that God catalogs crimes into three areas:
- Unintentional Crimes: Where do I stand? Pertaining to God’s Civil Laws – Part 3
- Neglect Crimes: Where do I stand? Pertaining to God’s Civil Laws – Part 2
- Intentional Crimes: Where do I stand? Pertaining to God’s Civil Laws – Part 1
So, as explained, if the eye or a limb was maimed do to an accident, the offender would have to compensate the victim. Likewise, a penalty for neglect would of course be higher than that for an honest mistake, hence a recompense and sometimes punishment would be paid . Additionally, in the cases of intentional crime, the penalty was at its severest. For example, first degree manslaughter would earn the death sentence (Exodus 21:12). Thus, if somebody intentionally destroyed a limb or someone’s site, they would withstand the same consequences. Conversely, we need to ask ourselves; who would intentionally disfigure another person knowing they would face the same charge. Chances are that if you harm somebody they are going to see you do it and take you to trial! I would have to image, if somebody was that desperate to make another person a cripple, they would go for homicide. In short, I believe that the eye for an eye was only for premeditated mutilations, not for mistakes.
Another part that isn’t talked about is that the “an eye for an eye”, as severe as it sounds, puts a cap on a punishment. Thus, if the judicial system exacts justice, it cannot go over the top, like we see in our own Country, i.e. is a hot cup of coffee burning someone worth $2.86 million? Even when my wife Danielle and I worked prison ministry we saw prisoners who embezzled money receive longer sentences than murderers. Sometimes punishments can be too excessive being motivated more from vengeance than justice.
As should be noted, this “eye for an eye” maxim in Torah didn’t always mean the same thing in each passage. In Deuteronomy 19:21 this expression (life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot) is used to express that no pity will be given to a false witness. If we read on, it explains that a false witness will receive the punishment of the man he is testifying against. Wouldn’t that truly clear out our own court system?
This is why when the Christian messiah challenged God’s law, he shows his ignorance of the Torah. In Matthew 5:38-39 he tells Christians, in response to the Torah’s “eye for an eye”, to “turn the other cheek”. This certainly flies in the face of accountability that the Torah teaches. Likewise, when we go down to verse 40, he says if you are sued to pay more than the penalty. What sense does that make? So when Stella Liebeck sued McDonald’s over a cup of coffee McDonald’s should have rounded up the $2.86 million to an even $3 mil? This would contradict Torah’s need for justice and consequences. Likewise, it would inspire more people to challenge the system motivated by greed.
So after we ferreted it out, we now know what “an eye for an eye…” truly means. In essence, it means to make sure the punishment fits the crime, especially if the crime was intentional. Likewise, it means that the punishment should not be in excess to the crime. The New Testaments spin on this is problematic because by removing God’s ordinance one removes justice and accountability. Let us remember “Do not add to the word which I command you, nor diminish from it, to observe the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” – Deuteronomy 4:2.