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2-23-12 ABR from God

Abortion and Exodus 21

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As traditional values (i.e., biblical values) continue to be systematically extracted from American culture, moral and spiritual confusion have been the inevitable result. While the Bible does not speak directly to the practice of abortion, it does provide enough relevant material to enable us to know God’s will on the children, harm, fight, pay,  matter. One insightful passage from the Old Testament is Exodus 21:22-25, which describes what action is to be taken in a case of accidental, or at least coincidental, injury to a pregnant woman:

If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no lasting harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any lasting harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe (NKJV).

Several features of this passage require clarification. First, the NKJV and NIV rendering of the underlying Hebrew as “she gives birth prematurely,” and the KJV and ASV rendering “so that her fruit depart (from her)” are accurate reflections of the original. “Fruit” in the KJV is the noun form of a verb that means “to bring forth (children)” (Schreiner, 1990, 6:76; Harris, et al., 1980, 1:378-379). Thus the noun form (yeled), used 89 times in the Old Testament, refers to that which is brought forth, i.e., children, and is generally so translated (Gesenius, 1847, p. 349; Wigram, 1890, 530-531; cf. VanGemeren, 1997, 2:457). For example, it is used to refer to Ishmael (Genesis 21:8), Moses (Exodus 2:3), Obed, the child of Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 4:16), and even to the Christ child (Isaiah 9:6). It is used in the same context earlier in the chapter to refer to the children born to a Hebrew servant whose wife was provided by his master (Exodus 21:4). There is nothing in the word itself that indicates the physical condition of the child/children, whether dead or alive (cf. 2 Samuel 12:14-23).

Second, the term translated “prematurely” or “depart” (yatsa) is a Hebrew verb that has the broad meaning of “to go out, to go forth” (Gesenius, p. 359). It is used in the Old Testament to refer to everything from soldiers going forth to war (1 Samuel 8:20), or the sun going forth in its rising (Genesis 19:23), to a flower blossoming (Job 14:2) or the birth of a child (Job 1:21). The Hebrew is as generic as the English words “to go out or forth.” As with yeled, there is nothing in the word itself that would imply the physical status of the child—whether unharmed, injured, or dead (cf. Numbers 12:12; Deuteronomy 28:57). For example, referring to the births of Esau and Jacob, the text reads: “And the first came out red…Afterward his brother came out” (Genesis 25:25-26, emp. added). Only by contextual details may one determine the condition of the child….

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