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"If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. 23 But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." Ex. 21:22-25, The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, (La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation) 1996.

A majority of the pastors and mature Christians are familiar with these obscure verses in Exodus. It is unlikely they are aware of important translation updates which have been made to the passage above which will be discussed later in this article. They may or may not be aware these verses have a strong relationship to the cultural war currently dividing our country. It is also unlikely they are aware of the detrimental effect this passage has had on the spiritual condition of their congregation. Indeed, I have found a majority in the Pro-Life Movement is completely unaware these verses are the mantra for the Pro-Abortion Movement when combating those familiar with the Bible. Every fourth woman sitting in the pews has undergone an abortion and this passage was likely used to counter any spiritual objections they raised prior to their abortion. Sitting in our pews are many additional women who will fall victim to this vicious attack unless pastors provide their flocks with a proper exegesis for the passage. I realize fighting abortion is not a pleasant topic, but it can be handled delicately and decisively if the Christian warrior sets his mind to the task.

The pro-abortion sales technique for overcoming spiritual objections goes like this; God only punishes the guilty person(s) with a fine if the fetus is lost in an accidental miscarriage, but invokes equal punishment if the woman is injured or killed as a result of the accident. The implication being: 1) the unborn child only has a monetary value to God, 2) the unborn child is not a person, hence their use of the word "fetus," and 3), the woman has infinite value while the fetus has little if any value. At first glance the New American Standard and many other English translations would appear to validate their position. There are several errors in their position and points that follow:

*These verses have nothing to do with abortion, which the pro-abortion side will admit if pushed. However, a correct exegesis can be used to destroy the pro-abortion position.
*The Hebrew word translated child or fruit "yeled" is plural, hence children. The woman might be pregnant with twins. This is the same word used for babies and young children throughout the OT (Gen. 21:8; Ex. 2:3). The preborn is considered to be just as much a person as any young child.
*The Hebrew word mistranslated miscarriage in this verse is "yatsa," which actually means to "come out" or "give birth." This word is regularly used for live birth in the OT. In fact, it is never used for miscarriage, though it is used once for still birth. In this passage, as in virtually all OT texts, it refers to a live, though premature birth.
*It is very important to note the same writer used the normal Hebrew word for miscarriage "shakal" just two chapters later in Exodus 23:26. This clearly indicates the writer had something besides miscarriage in mind for the Exodus 21:22-25 passage.
The Hebrew doesn't indicate if the injuries in question are those sustained by the woman or the child(ren). A reading, just by glancing at the order of the words (not a strong argument for Hebrew) and by the force of the case of the pronouns (a stronger argument) would indicate that the possible injuries are relative to either. The great Hebrew scholar, Umberto Cassuto, wrote, "But if any mischief happen, that is, if the woman dies or the children die, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, etc.: you, 0 judge (or you, 0 Israel, through the judge who represents you) shall adopt the principle of 'life for life,' etc." Clearly this point places an equal value on both woman and child in calling for punishment if either is injured or killed.
The use of the word "further" in the text is not in the Hebrew nor is it implied. A literal translation for the whole sentence really should read, "And when men struggle together and strike a pregnant woman [or wife] and her children come forth, but there is no injury, he shall certainly be fined, as the husband of the woman shall impose on him, and he shall give [or pay] in [the presence of] the judges; but if there shall be an injury, then you shall pay eye for eye, life for life."
The pro-choice rendering of these verses is not in harmony with the rest of Scripture or the teaching of the Early Church Fathers. Twice in the Didache, "The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles," the Exodus 21:22-25 passage is referenced, "Thou shalt not commit murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not commit pederasty, thou shalt not commit fornication, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not practice witchcraft, thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten." ABORTION IS CLEARLY LABELED MURDER IN BOTH SECTIONS.
As mentioned earlier, the pro-choice position implies the unborn child has little value or is not a person. Denying the person of Christ was in the womb from the moment of conception is a denial of the Incarnation. John 1:14 Deny the person of Christ in the flesh at any point, including in the womb, and one is anti-Christian...opposed to Christ. I John 4:1-4

Two very important points that will cast additional light on this issue need to be brought to attention:

While there are technical and historical reasons for the previous translation, namely the Septuagint and cultural laws which surrounded ancient Israel, The Lockman Foundation has graciously made a strong decision to continue providing what many scholars consider to be the best literal translation by changing the version which was shown at the first of this article. They should be congratulated for their decision to continue providing accurate Bibles. The new translation reads:

"If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. 23 But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." Ex. 21:22-25 The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, (La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation) 1996.

I was also advised the NCCC has contracted for a light revision of the Revised Standard Version, which will be released in 2002. This new version was named the English Standard Version. The translators have informed me they have changed the Exodus passage to correct the previous mistranslation.

These two translations join the King James, The New King James, New International Version, The New Living Version, 1901 American Standard,1890 Darby, God’s Word, and Young’s Literal Translation as placing a high value on the unborn and providing the correct exegesis. We can expect other translations to follow by correcting their reading in the not too distant future. This will not eliminate all abortions, but with the Lord’s help it will guide Christians into setting a higher standard for the world.