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Exodus 21:22 clearly shows the death of the
fetus is not equal to taking a life.
Most of the English Bible translations except the NIV make
it clear that God shows a fetus is not life. The NIV says "premature birth" and
in a note it says miscarriage. The NIV translators got heat from anti-choice
people with an agenda to prove life begins at conception, so the translators
changed scriptures to their agenda. Others think the NIV translators made an
honest mistake, but it is clearly a mistranslation of the Hebrew.
Some Christians argue that the fetus was born alive. Here is more documentation
(not just from the NIV) that there is no support for this argument
The New American Standard Bible Says:
"If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a
miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined as the
woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. 23 But
if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty 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." Ex. 21:22-25, The New American
The Revised Standard Bible Says:
"When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a
miscarriage, and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined,
according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the
judges determine. 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.
God only punishes the guilty person(s) with a fine if the fetus is lost in an
accidental miscarriage, but invokes equal punishment if the woman is injured or
killed as a result of the accident. The implication being: 1) the unborn child
only has a monetary value to God, 2) the unborn child is not a person, hence
their use of the word "fetus," and 3), the woman has infinite value (to her
husband) while the fetus has little if any value. The New American Standard and
many other English translations validate this position as do many Jewish
The concern is for the woman as another mans property. Notice that it is the
woman's husband that collects the fine ( according as the womans husband shall
lay upon him). The concern is for the loss of the husbands property, which in
this case is the fetus, and any harm to his other property, which is his wife.
The fetus is not given any worth in and of itself, and neither is the wife. They
are given worth solely because they are considered the husbands property. Do you
think that there would have been a fine if she was pregnant and unmarried and
this happened to her? No way! You have to really put yourself back then 2000 to
4000 years ago. Women were chattel and children were both life insurance and
social security. This is a time when slavery was common and people were
considered property, commodities. It is very difficult for people living in
modern times to understand the mind set of people back then.
Theologian Millard Erickson notes that in this view, “the lex talionis [life for
life] is applied only if the mother is harmed. On this basis it is concluded
that the fetus was not considered a soul or a person, and thus is not to be
thought of as fully human.” Millard Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids:
Baker Book House, 1985), p. 555.
Further related to the abortion argument there are many other bible passages
that are more clearly about abortion and never a word about it being wrong.
Since the passage is in the OT, the Jewish view is also of some value to
evaluate the passage:
Jerome's Commentary, a highly respected source explains: "If a pregnant women
should suffer a miscarriage as a result of a blow, the guilty party need only
make a monetary compensation demanded by her husband; however should the woman
die, capital punishment is proscribed for the offender." This is confirmed by
the Jewish teachings that abortion is never considered murder. If the fetus had
been considered an independent entity, there would have been an life for a life
penalty for murder.
The Talmud says that a fetus is its mothers thigh (Hulin 58a and Gittin 23b),
and it has no legal rights. Even once the birth process starts the fetus can be
destroyed to save the women from physical or mental harm. In order for a fetus
to be considered a nefesh adam (a living person), its head must have emerged
from the birth canal. Sanhedrin 72b states: it (the fetus) is not a person and
therefore its life is inferior to its mothers life.
If it was a live birth the verse would have said something like "Tinoch ha'
nolad". "tinoch" being the word for baby or infant. The verse HAS ALWAYS been
translated by the Jews to mean miscarriage.
Another more direct abortion example in the Sanhedrin is a discussion of what to
do with a pregnant women who has been sentenced to death. They conclude she
should be beat on the stomach prior to the execution; thereby preventing her
from going into labor. It makes no difference how far along she is, the fetus
dies with the mother. "I cite this Halacha because it puts the status of the
fetus into a Halachic perspective. Even if it could be viable it has no rights
unto itself." - Norman Slurzberg
In Exodus the lost fetus was a property offense only. The fine was required
since it deprived the Husband the property rights and value of a future child
(to work in fields if boy, or marriage price if girl). Since no life taken, no
life for a life penalty only to compensate husband for potential property loss.
Many get caught up in fetal envy emotions and think abortion is terrible and
they assume God feels the same way. However, the Bible does not back them up.
What they are doing is projecting their own personal belief systems onto God and
then claiming Him as an authority to promote THEIR beliefs, not the original
Word of God.
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