Monday, March 16, 2009

Exodus 21

3 comments:

Prairie Chick said...

We had interesting discussion when I read this to the kids this morning. The fundamental differences between bible time slavery and Negro slavery. The fact that the slaves were basically "indentured" by family members, for a price, but were to be set free after 7 years and didn't have to buy their freedom. I did still find it difficult to read the laws about their wives and children still being "possessions" of the master though... hard for me to understand.

I also found the laws governing the "first wife" in v10-11 difficult to understand. It doesn't condemn the taking of a second wife, and frees the first wife if her husband doesn't provide adequately for her needs.

She goes free and then what? What does that freedom mean?

This chapter brought up questions I had last week about the Jews not practicing the stoning as the law orders them to. Why not? When they are so set on following the law to a T what out have they found to avoid disciplinary action? I will have to go and research this.

Prairie Chick said...

why stoning doesn't take place in Israel... the criteria for being a witness to the guilty party's crime was long and impossible. Two witnesses were necessary and here are the criteria for finding someone guilty and a candidate for stoning;

The witnesses had to be acceptable to the court. Acceptability was limited to:

Adult Jewish men who were known to keep the commandments;

The witnesses had to see each other at the time of the sin;

The witnesses had to be able to speak clearly, without any speech impediment or hearing deficit (to ensure that the warning and the response were done);

The witnesses could not be related to each other or to the accused.

The witnesses had to see each other, and both of them had to give a warning (hatra'ah) to the person that the sin they were about to commit was a capital offense;

This warning had to be delivered within seconds of the performance of the sin (in the time it took to say, "Peace unto you, my Rabbi and my Master");

In the same amount of time, the person about to sin had to:
Respond that s/he was familiar with the punishment, but they were going to sin anyway;

The Beth Din had to examine each witness separately; and if even one point of their evidence was contradictory - even if a very minor point, such as eye color - the evidence was considered contradictory and the evidence was not heeded;

The Beth Din had to consist of 23 judges;

The majority could not be a simple majority - the split verdict that would allow conviction had to be at least 13 to 11 in favor of conviction;

If the Beth Din arrived at a unanimous verdict of guilty, the person was let go - the idea being that if no judge could find anything exculpatory about the accused, there was something wrong with the court.

The witnesses were appointed by the court to be the executioners.
As a result, it was next to impossible to convict someone of a capital offense in Judaism.

Berry Girl said...

oh my. that leads to the question, WHY THEN HAVE CAPITAL OFFENSES???? Why have a punishment that you will never mete out?
Crazy.

I had a lot of the same thoughts as you reading this passage - interesting the questions that it would bring up for your kids having just gone through black slavery hey?

Here's one thing that really struck me as I read the notes about these passages...
regarding the women and injury causing accidental chilbirth -

COMPENSATION was mandatory even if there was no injury to the mother or child, and judges were brought in to make sure that the damages were fair and not calculated out of vengeance.

RETALIATION applied if there was injury caused to the mother or child, and the punishment matched but did not exceed the damage done to the victim.

so interesting to me that the Law allowed room for both compensation AND retaliation.

and here's what I found particularly interesting - "significantly, for the abortion debate, the fetus was considered a person; thus, someone was held accountable for its death or injury"

I love that.