Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Deciding Compensation

Courts will decide compensation to be paid, by determining the economic value of an eye. It would try to assess the value of the income and enjoyment lost through the lack of an eye. This is a bit like the lump-sum compensation provided by some accident insurance schemes, where the loss of an arm was worth more than the loss of an eye. An “eye for an eye” means that a person who loses an eye will receive compensation for the loss of any eye. If the victim loses the use of their leg, the criminal will have to pay compensation for the loss of that limb.

Most English translations put the word “but” at the beginning of Exodus 21:23 to make it sound like a different principle from what precedes it, but there is no “but” in the original Hebrew. The verse refers to financial compensation. Using it to justify harsh physical revenge is only possible if Moses’ words are taken out of context.

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