AN EYE FOR AN EYE, TOOTH FOR TOOTH, LIFE FOR LIFE
PART TWO: Permissive for criminal corrective action
– by Mary A. LaClair
Yesterday I was inspired to write that the axiom in the Old Testament of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, life for life” can be restrictive; not allowing over-punishment; and is the first step to forgiveness, leading to love thy enemy and doing good to him. It is the taming of the natural in order to tame the spiritual.
Later, however, as a journalist, I found myself entering a press debate, this time defending “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” as being permissive. The occasion was, that in Massachusetts, at least three violent criminals were released by secret vote of a parole board. One of those released had been tried and sentenced to three concurrent life sentences. After serving just fifteen years of three concurrent life sentences, he was released by the parole board, whereupon he embarked upon a robbery in which a policeman was killed. The second, killed a young woman. The third, killed a newly-wed couple. The Governor, who appointed, and it seems, re-appointed, this parole board with poor judgment, was re-elected. Policemen and other state employees were presenting an ominous front at this Governor’s ‘much too celebratory’ induction ceremony which took place the week after the policeman lost his life. And I truly believe the somber police presence was with good cause.
The press debate topic was ‘should these three, all of whom went on to kill again, have been released?’
Having just pondered ‘an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, a life for life’ as being restrictive; I am now forced to see the other side of it as being permissive and even directive. A further, more recent event confirms my thinking.
“A gunman who shot dead two firefighters after luring them to a blaze in Dec. 2012 in Webster NY has previously been in prison for killing his grandmother with a hammer.
Crazed shooter William Spengler, 62, spent 17 years in jail after killing the 92-year-old in 1980 in a horrific attack.”
If these killers who violently and intentionally killed (it was not self-defense) had fallen under the ‘life for life’ rule, and been given the death penalty – as they gave their victims, they wouldn’t have gone on to murder even more innocent people.
The estimated incarceration cost of one inmate for a year is $40,000.00. Multiply that times 17 years for one and 15 years for the other. We have paid dearly not only in tax money but also in the cost of innocent lives. ‘Soft heartedness´and lack of responsibility in dealing with violent killers is proving detrimental.
The Ten Commandments in their original form, check with any Jewish scholar, say “Thou Shalt Not Murder” not “Thou Shalt Not Kill”. Murder is taking the life of an innocent person. Indeed Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us there is “a time to kill, a time to heal”. Killing and murder are two different things. We need to know the difference.
I believe innocents are being killed through fear of the death penalty; and I don’t believe the numbers are a ‘wash’.
The altruism of the Golden Rule, having its origins in Confucius, comes into play here, too. The Golden Rule is “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.” If a violent murderer doesn’t mind taking someone else’s life, he shouldn’t mind if his own is taken.
A little known Scripture at Isaiah 26:10 instructs:
10 Though grace is shown to the wicked,
they do not learn righteousness;
even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil
and regard not the majesty of the LORD. (NIV)
This proves true in the release of violent criminals to whom ‘grace is shown’.
The King James Version words Isaiah 26:10 in this way:
10 Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD.
In loving thy enemy we must not overlook justice which protects the innocent.
We need to be careful to whom we show favor. I think that “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, an animal for an animal, a life for a life” as it applies to those obtaining self-control is restrictive; as it applies to those who have not obtained self control, it is directed to be permissive by courts for the safety of society.
The instructions contained within Holy Scriptures are for the overcoming of evil within ourselves and for the removal of evil from the world. Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21; Matthew 5:38
“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life” is both restrictive and it is permissive.
It is restrictive when applied to ourselves. It is permissive when applied to others who have not first applied it to themselves.
We need to know and to practice the difference.
The Holy Scriptures still have the answers to life’s problems.
We should consult them more.
“Tooth for tooth, blow for blow…etc. is also restricive when learning to tame the human spirit. Please see:
P.S. UPDATE: Since this writing: Two violent killers, whom I believe should have received the death penalty years ago, escaped a maximum security prison on June 6, 2015 in New York State. DAVID SWEAT and RICHARD MATT, cost taxpayers over $1M A DAY during a period of several weeks in the search for capture or re-apprehension. The Governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo, admitted that these were two very dangerous malicious murderers. The danger to the innocent people of the state was incalculable. One was eventually shot in the recapture – meaning he got the death penalty anyway, but theoretically without the advance warnings he would have received had he been given a specific execution date.
___________Related Articles_____________Scripture references__________
- The Biblical Right To Self-Defense (treeofmamre.wordpress.com)
[ A Time for Everything ] There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, …NIV
Exodus 21:24 22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely[e] 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.”
Levitucs 24:17-20 17 “‘Anyone who takes the life of a human being is to be put to death. 18 Anyone who takes the life of someone’s animal must make restitution—life for life. 19 Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury. 21 Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a human being is to be put to death. 22 You are to have the same law for the foreigner and the native-born. I am the Lord your God.’”
Deuteronomy 19:16-20 16 If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime, 17 the two people involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. 18 The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite, 19 then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. You must purge the evil from among you. 20 The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. 21 Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”
Matthew 5:38 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.”
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under category: Death Penalty: title What Is A Civil Society