Ex. 19-21 (Welcome to the Law)

Okay, buckle up.  Here comes the law.  Before I prove the Bible is pro-choice and dive into Spanish-English translation differences, let’s talk about what is valuable in this passage.  Moses goes up Mt. Sinai alone, then eventually with Aaron.  it seems to me that this is really important because it clearly separates God from God’s people.  If the people get too close, they will be killed.  Remember God walked among Adam and Eve.  God spoke directly to Job.  God actually wrestles with Jacob/Israel. 

Drawing God away from the people seems like an important step is growing a sufficiently abstract–what I might call mature–understanding of God for God to survive out of superstitious society.  This is important, I think.

Now to the details.  The Ten Commandments are first presented in Scripture at Ex. 20:1-17.  Of course it is funny that while everyone agrees there are ten commandments, and the passage linked here is set off from the more detailed law that follows, folks do not agree on which ten commands make up–as they say in Worship & Wonder–the ten best ways to live.  Here are three breakdowns, Jewish, Protestant, Catholic. But, here is another difference.  Here’s Ex. 20:13 in two languages.

You shall not murder.//no mates.

These mean quite different things.  Or as I would write in Spanish: Hay una diferencia entre “matar” y “asesinar.”  For one thing, the Israelites plainly killed animals.  That’s discussed extensive, not to mention the blood bath that happens when we get back to narrative and Moses passes things off to Joshua.  Murder seems to clearly be the better translation in context.

Now, let’s look at another. Ex. 21:22.  Important texts underlined in both. First, the ultra politically influenced words from NIV.

“If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely[a] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows.” 

[a] 22 Or she has a miscarriage. 

Interesting.  Wondering if ancient Hebrews talked about premature birth as a thing.  Anyway, here’s the Spanish.

“Si en una riña los contendientes golpean a una mujer encinta, y la hacen abortar, pero sin poner en peligro su vida, se les impondrá la multa que el marido de la mujer exija y que en justicia le corresponda.”

“la hacen abortar,” in case you wonder, means “makes her abort.”  Interesting that the NVI translators didn’t feel the need to put in a fix.

Even with the naked political influence on the NIV translators, common sense, and their footnote happily not entirely eliminating the original text, make it clear that terminating a pregnancy, even by force against the will of the mother!, was not murder in the eyes of the ancient Hebrews.  So, are we done with abortion is murder conversation?

One reply on “Ex. 19-21 (Welcome to the Law)”

Oh… if only it were so. I've made this point a thousand times, but the problem is not with the text.

Our adversaries in this debate don't think abortion is murder. If they did, they'd do more than vote for their favorite candidate, but rather they pretend that they think it's murder. If they're pretending to think it's murder, then it's easy for them to pretend this passage doesn't exist.

Leave a Reply