Moses gave a curious command: “Show no pity: life for life, eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” This seems to be an excessive response when one is wronged, but given the culture of that day, it was actually a move towards moderation.
For example, when Jacob’s daughter Dinah was raped, her brothers avenged her violation by killing the perpetrator and all the men in his village and then sacking the city. That is excessive—and what God, through Moses, wanted to rein in with his “eye of the eye, tooth for tooth” imperative.
Jesus, however, took this one step further when he told us to love our enemies and pray for them. That’s how we should act today—lovingly, not vengeful.
[See Deuteronomy 19:21, Genesis 34:1-31—especially verse 2 and 25, Matthew 5:38-48—especially verse 44.]
A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.