Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fact-Checking -- Genesis 21:24-25

Now we know why there has to be something to relieve the anger or grief of the person injured.  So now we’re going to answer the other question in the last lesson, why can’t you apply some other form of retaliation?  And that will help us explain Exodus 21:24-25.
Imagine a society that doesn’t have Exodus 21:22.  Imagine some form of LT like this: A and B have a fight; B hits A’s wife, who is pregnant, and she has a miscarriage.  What if the law said A had to hit B’s wife so she has a miscarriage?

What if B isn’t married?  How do you appease A?  Do you have a quickie wedding ceremony for B and then when his wife gets pregnant, A hits her and she has a miscarriage?  What if B is sterile?  What if his new wife is sterile?  What if she is prone to miscarriages and nobody ever finds out she’s pregnant until she has the miscarriage?  What if destroying B’s unborn child still isn’t enough for A?  Society can’t afford letting B’s wife get pregnant over and over again just because A still doesn’t feel repaid.
What about B’s wife?  She didn’t do anything wrong.  She wasn’t even married to B at the time.  She is absolutely innocent of all wrong-doing.  How is it fair for her to undergo all that agony just because her husband hit somebody he wasn’t even fighting with?

Fairness.  It’s the cornerstone of every legal system.  That goes back not only through history, but into prehistory, and even into evolution.  I cite two papers by Brosnan in the bibliography.
Brosnan et al. set up nice clean warm cages for monkeys – not apes, monkeys – with food and water and all that, and they rewarded the monkeys for learning simple tasks.  The monkeys could see each other.  Once the tasks were learned, Brosnan et al. designated certain monkeys and when these monkeys did what they were supposed to, they got a grape.  The other monkeys got slices of cucumber.  They liked both rewards, but they liked the grapes more.  Who wouldn’t.

When the monkeys getting the cucumber realized that the monkeys they could see got grapes, they – er – went apeshit.  They raged around their cages, they vocalized, they even threw their own waste.  Monkeys don’t take it lying down when they are treated unfairly.
Fairness is built into humans.  It has to be built into human societies.  It isn’t fair to suffer harm from somebody else, but with some forms of harm, there is no possible way of retaliating equally against the person who harmed you.  Then you have to substitute another compensation for the harm.

That’s what damages are for.  But how much do you get in damages?  If it’s an eye, you get the damages for an eye; if it’s a burn, you get the damages for a burn.  How much is that?  The more severe the injury, the longer the injured will be out of work, and the bigger the doctor’s bills.
But we’re not done yet, there’s one more word we need to understand.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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