“But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe” (Exodus 21:23-25 ESV)

God gave Moses very specific laws to set His chosen people apart from the other nations of the world. At first glance, this “eye for eye” law may look barbaric to the modern reader. Yet, it actually limited the level of retaliation that the offended party could take, and it laid the foundation for modern law. “An eye for an eye” is sometimes referred to as the principle of appropriate retaliation or as in the Latin, “lex talionis” (“law of retaliation”). This meant that the victim could not demand more than the value of the injury in compensation; therefore, preventing the escalation of revenge, as was the pattern of the tribes before the law. The law does not eliminate the sin of humanity, but it does act as a guard rail, limiting its excess, and pointing to our need for rescue from a Savior.