Yesterday I mentioned Frank Viola’s long post titled “What is God Really Like? Hell, the Old Testament God, and Love Wins – An Interview with the Author of “Is God a Moral Monster?””
One thing I found interesting was a discussion of a difficult Old Testament passage, one which a friend and I were discussing just a few weeks ago. Here’s the beginning of that discussion (which is in the form of an interview; bold represents question asked of author):
- If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity (Deuteronomy 25:11-12) Doesn’t this make clear that the Old Testament was written by a man? Come on now. How is this consistent with a good, loving, reasonable God? If God wrote this, I wouldn’t want anything to do with a God like that. So what did God have in His mind when He authored this Law? And how does it reflect His nature? What say you?
This action was considered shameful—touching an area where only a man’s own wife is allowed to touch. Also, the man could possibly be permanently injured and thus deprived of future children. At first blush, this passage apparently requires that a woman’s hand must be cut off if she seizes the genitals of the man fighting with her husband—and scholars typically take this view.
If so, this would be the only biblical instance of punishment by mutilation; beyond this, where ancient Near Eastern laws call for bodily mutilation for various offenses, the Mosaic Law does not. The Babylonian code of Hammurabi insisted that certain crimes be punished by cutting off the tongue, breast, hand, or ear—or the accused being dragged around a field by cattle. The Law of Moses—though not ideal—presents a remarkable improvement when it comes to punishments.
Read the rest of the interview and tell me what you think.
(Yeah, the book image is an associate link. If you decide to buy and use that link, I get enough commission to buy a stick of gum)