A convicted murderer is to be put to death, but someone who kills another person accidentally but negligently is to be incarcerated with a small amount of freedom for a period of time. Today that would be determined by a judge, bearing in mind that in Old Testament times it could be the remainder of the high priest’s life. This ultimately leaves the decision in YHWH’s hands.
A Law in DEUTERONOMY 4:2 states we must not take away from any of YHWH’s Laws. The Pharisees of Yahshua’s time did this and we know how He reacted in condemnation of them and their traditions. How He must likewise deplore the hundreds of extras and the lack of laws of our lands devised by man’s corrupt and deviant minds, which do not set us free, but bind and control every detail of our lives.
There are many other Laws for which there are no definite explanations. One must be led by the Spirit after seeking Father’s will about how these particular Laws should be kept. Take for instance EXODUS 21:23-25 (NASB):
But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
If nothing else this Scripture shows us the absolute importance of each person and each part of a person to YHWH Almighty, and how careful every one of us should be of everybody else. I for one would never play rugby league or any contact sport like it! In fact, this verse refers to accidental bodily harm inflicted upon a pregnant woman resulting in the miscarriage her unborn child. The loss of her baby incurs a fine only but the absolute value of the woman is made clear here. For his failure to be properly careful about the victim, the person inflicting the injury, in YHWH’s eyes, apparently deserves the same to happen to him. It is then repeated in DEUTERONOMY 19:21:
And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
Do you ever get the idea that our understanding of YHWH’s absolute justice is far short of ideal? Anyway, we can marry these Scriptures with a perhaps slightly imperfect understanding that says: let the penalty for these sins fit the crime and circumstances.
Presently our governing bodies make our laws and they decide the penalties for both perpetrators and victims of crime. By penalties for victims I mean when a person or family loses a loved one to murder, it is a lifelong penalty whereas the murderer may be free after a few short years of a prison sentence.
Just such a situation occurred in my city as I wrote this for the book In Spirit and in Truth. A deranged killer had stabbed a young girl to death less than five years previously. He was found to be insane and imprisoned in a mental institution. Yet today he walks freely around the community on week-long leave in the custody of his parents. When it became public knowledge, there was an outcry with the result that the government promised to review the laws that allow this. The murder’s mother, however, slammed those who exposed the situation saying they did not understand mental illness. That may be true, but the victim’s parents certainly understand their grief and suffering, not to mention the fear with which they live knowing a killer roams around their city.
Another Law of indefinite understanding is EXODUS 35:3:
Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitation on the Sabbath day.
During the wilderness wanderings by the Israelites, a man was stoned to death for collecting firewood on the Sabbath. The Law witnesses against not only collecting the wood, but making the fire; but what if YHWH’s people are in such a cold place they would freeze to death without a fire? What about in today’s push button world where we must only flick a switch to turn the stove or heater on? How are we to understand Yahshua’s gracious concession that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath in relation to this particular Law (MARK 2:27)? Again we should seek YHWH’s will and be guided by the Spirit.
There are said to be statements made by Yahshua that are different or go far deeper than that of the Mosaic Law. MATTHEW 5:28 is one such Law:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Uh uh! Here it is in the Old Testament Law:
DEUTERONOMY 5:21 Neither shalt thou desire (long for, lust after) thy neighbour’s wife…
Another such statement is in MATTHEW 5:22:
But I say unto you that whosoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of the judgment (of murder)…
Here too is the Law in the Old Testament:
LEVITICUS 19:17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart.