Friday, October 4, 2013

Fact-Checking -- Exodus 21:24-25

Fact-Checking your urban legends about the Pentateuch, which will be called Torah on this thread from now on, means making you re-think what you believe you know about what Torah says.

All right.  You’ve been meditating on Exodus 21:24-25.  You can repeat it in your sleep.  You know every word.  You’ve looked up every word and you know what it means.
So what does it mean?

Here’s the Hebrew written out in English letters.  This is called a transliteration.  I won’t do it every time but I think it’s worthwhile here.  If you are using my Hebrew language lessons, you will see each verse transliterated and you can learn to do it for yourself but you will get more out of Torah if you learn to read the Hebrew because the lessons will end at some point – unless people beg and plead for me to continue – since I will believe that everybody has learned to fish.
Ayin tachat ayin
Shen tachat shen
Yad tachat yad
Regel tachat regel
Kviyah tachat kviyah
Petsa tachat petsa
Chaburah tachat chaburah

“Tachat” is an important word.  Normally it means “under”.  If you’ve ever heard anybody talk about a tuchis you were hearing the Yiddish version of this word, which means your backside.

Now look at your English version and think of it as saying “under” instead of “for.”
What does that mean?

Not very much, huh?
So if the meaning of tachat isn’t the normal “under,” what do you think of the idea that it also doesn’t mean “for” as your urban legends say.

So what do your urban legends say this means?  I think I know the answer to that.  You were taught that it means “A has to take out B’s eye, if B took out A’s eye.”  And so on.
But that requires a verb.  There’s no verb above.  Tachat is not a verb. It doesn’t have a verbal, that is an action, meaning.

Now, one thing you need to know about Hebrew is, it’s one of those languages that can leave the word “is” out of a sentence and still have a sentence.  So do it.  Think of your English version with the phrase “is under” instead of “for”.  Still doesn’t make sense, does it.
Now go over it again, and plug in “is for”.  What does that mean?

It doesn’t mean “take out.”  “Take out” is an active verb.  “Is for” is not an active verb.
For next time, add Exodus 21:18-19 and 22.  Meditate on them.  Combine them with verses 24 and 25.  We are now expanding your context because the original two verses didn’t mean what you were taught they mean.  They’re too restricted.  They have been taken out of context.  Restoring them to their context will explain to you what Torah really means by those verses.  Get used to it.  I’m going to do this over and over and over, because it’s the first step in learning how to fish.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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