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I'm having a discussion with a man (non-denom Protestant) who believes that the Mosaic law in Exodus 21:22 justifies abortion if the mother is in danger of death. LumenGentleman, if you're out there, maybe you could help on this.
 
The man's argument was that if abortion in all cases was truly murder, then the guilty man would not just pay a fine; he would be sentenced to death, according to the law of retribution.
 
I originally argued that the verse spoke of premature birth (live birth), and not miscarriage. However, the Douay-Rheims Bible (and the RSV too) explicitly states miscarriage, so I couldn't hold this argument up. The DR says:
 
Quote:Exodus 21:22  If men quarrel, and one strike a woman with child and she miscarry indeed, but live herself: he shall be answerable for so much damage as the woman's husband shall require, and as arbiters shall award.
 
 
So my question is: if abortion is always murder, why isn't the penalty in this verse death?
The verse speaks in the case of an accidental miscarriage due to the strike.  If the man hitting the woman did so to kill her child, the penalty would have been greater.
mississippicatholic Wrote:The verse speaks in the case of an accidental miscarriage due to the strike.  If the man hitting the woman did so to kill her child, the penalty would have been greater.

Thanks, MC. This is my line of thought on it so far. However, I'd be much obliged if I could get some scholarly opinion or commentary, or perhaps the Early Church Fathers on it.
There is a bible verse where He says:"....I knew you when you were in the womb..."

I think that's how it went.  Anyways, they recognized the unborn as people in the Gospels. 

You can't get a protestant to deny the gospels.  But again, I forget where it says that.

Archbishop_10K Wrote:I'm having a discussion with a man (non-denom Protestant) who believes that the Mosaic law in Exodus 21:22 justifies abortion if the mother is in danger of death. LumenGentleman, if you're out there, maybe you could help on this.
 
The man's argument was that if abortion in all cases was truly murder, then the guilty man would not just pay a fine; he would be sentenced to death, according to the law of retribution.

 
The Douay is wrong.  It's an incorrect translation.
 
A few key words:
 
yeled = child.  This Hebrew word never once refers to an undeveloped embryo.  It always refers to a fully developed human child/baby.
 
In the Exodus 22:21 text, this word is used in the plural.
 
In contrast, when Ps. 138 speaks of a fetus, a specific word (golem) is used:
 
Quote:For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast protected me from my mother’s womb. I will praise thee, for thou art fearfully magnified: wonderful are thy works, and my soul knoweth right well. My bone is not hidden from thee, which thou hast made in secret: and my substance in the lower parts of the earth. Thy eyes did see my imperfect being (golem), and in thy book all shall be written (vv. 13-16)
 
Another key word:  yatsa' = "to go forth."  This word is never used to refer to a miscarriage.  It is used, however, to refer to live birth:
 
Quote: And immediately the word of the Lord came to him, saying:He shall not be thy heir: but he that shall come out [yatsa'] of thy bowels, him shalt thou have for thy heir. (Gen. 15:4)
 
And I will make thee increase exceedingly, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out [yatsa'] of thee. (Gen. 17:6)
 
He that came forth [yatsa'] first was red, and hairy like a skin: and his name was called Esau. Immediately the other coming forth [yatsa'], held his brother’s foot in his hand: and therefore he was called Jacob. (Gen. 25:25)
 
This shall come forth [yatsa'] the first. But he drawing back his hand, the other came forth [yatsa']: and the woman said: Why is the partition divided for thee? and therefore called his name Phares. (Gen. 38:28-29)
 
As you might expect, there is another Hebrew word for miscarriage: shakol.  It generally refers to the actual loss of infant life, or being barren in the womb.
 
This word is used in passages like:
 
Quote: There shall not be one fruitless [shakol] nor barren in thy land: I will fill the number of thy days. (Ex. 23:26)
 
And Samuel said: As thy sword hath made women childless [shakol], so shall thy mother be childless [shakol] among women. And Samuel hewed him in pieces before the Lord in Galgal. (1 Kings 15:33)
 
The Exodus text we are considering, of course, uses the Hebrew word for live birth, not the rendering barren/fruitless of the mother's womb.
 
Thus, the text says this, according to the Hebrew:
 
Quote: If men struggle and strike a woman who is pregnant, so that her children come forth, but there is no harm, he will be fined/punished indeed, whatever the woman's husband will impose; and it will be set according to the judges; but if there is harm, there shall be set life for life, etc. (Ex. 21:22)
 
It's just the opposite of what your friend thinks.  The text does not supply a pronoun in the phrase "but there is no harm" - harm to who?  The mother?  The child?  The last party mentioned was the "children" who "come forth," not the woman.  But the phrase is left open so that it can include either the woman or the child.
 
(Unfortunately, the Douay does supply the pronoun, incorrectly).
 
So the text is saying that if this woman gets hit, and then delivers prematurely, the punishment depends on if an injury is caused - either to the woman or the child.  If either dies, then it will be life-for-life; if some other injury, then it will be eye-for-eye, tooth-for-tooth, etc.
 
But the word "miscarry" is not in the text.
Thanks, Lumen. If that's the case, it's unfortunate and frustrating that the DR is incorrect here.
Do you know if, then, St. Jerome was also wrong in translating this passage?
The Vulgate reads:
 
Quote:Exodus 21:22 Si rixati fuerint viri, et percusserit quis mulierem prægnantem, et abortivum quidem fecerit, sed ipsa vixerit : subjacebit damno quantum maritus mulieris expetierit, et arbitri judicaverint.
Archbishop_10K Wrote:Do you know if, then, St. Jerome was also wrong in translating this passage?

 
Either that, or perhaps he was working with a faulty Hebrew manuscript?
Are we certain that we are not working with a faulty Hebrew manuscript, such that the actual meaning is that "if it's an accident, and there is a miscarriage," etc. or is that incompatible with the Mosaic law?
DominusTecum Wrote:Are we certain that we are not working with a faulty Hebrew manuscript, such that the actual meaning is that "if it's an accident, and there is a miscarriage," etc. or is that incompatible with the Mosaic law?

I guess I can't say I'm 100% sure we've got the reliable manuscripts, but I reasonably sure.  For a miscarriage to be penalized with nothing but a monetary fine would indeed be incompatible with the Mosaic Law, which stated "life for life."  The faulty translation, if it were true, would indeed be a devastating statement on the worth of pre-born life.