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Exodus 22:18

Discussion in 'Biblical Debates' started by Fluffy, Jan 10, 2006.

  1. Fluffy

    Fluffy A fool

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    Here is the verse in a variety of translations provided by www.wikipedia.org

    How do you think the verse should be interpreted and why do you believe your interpretation is superior to the alternatives?

    For those who believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God and the translation you use asks you to kill witches, how does this affect your life?

    For those who believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, do you believe that this passage has a place within Christianity?
     
  2. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    I don't read Hebrew, so I won't comment on the translations, but as to it's place in Christianity, it strikes me that there is a great deal in the OT that is conveniently ignored by modern Christians.
     
  3. jewscout

    jewscout Religious Zionist

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    From the artscroll Stone Edition Chumash: "You shall not permit a sorceress to live"

    The commentary is as follows:
    The Talmud teaches that Keeshoof (best transliteration i can give, sorry) is a contraction of Pamal'ya shel ma'lah mach'cheesheen (again best transliteration i can do) meaning, They deny the Divine retinue (Sandhedrin 67b). By definition, sorcery is an attempt to assume control of nature through the powers of impurity and thus to deny G-d's mastery.

    again i stress that in Traditional judaism this is a prohibition placed on the Israelites, i don't know if it is equally applied to all the other nations as well, nor do i know how christianity as a whole views this particular commandment.
     
  4. Fluffy

    Fluffy A fool

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    Is such a belief rooted in biblical scripture also or is that founded on other authorities? If it is, how can one tell which were limited to the Israelites and which were not?
     
  5. jewscout

    jewscout Religious Zionist

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    again traditional judaism holds the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah are placed upon the Children of Israel alone...
    for the rest of the world we believe you need only follow the guidlines of the 7 Noahidic laws:
    http://www.aish.com/wallcam/7_Noachide_Laws.asp

    and even those are really believed to be much looser than that of the Mitzvot of the Torah.
     
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  6. angellous_evangellous

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    To me, all of the various translations say essentially the same thing.

    A literal interpretation of the verse has no place whatsoever in Christian life because Jesus bore the penalty of every sin. However, if we are going to have human government, we cannot have anarchy, so there must be laws in place established by reason only. The Bible is not a product of reason, so it is not a source of law for the human community.

    For the Christian community, the Bible provides insight for how we are to live our lives. In the ancient Hebrew community, God commanded that sorcerers or witches be put to death, and the Christian community has frowned upon these practices historically.
     
  7. Fluffy

    Fluffy A fool

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    Thanks for that, that was very informative. Is there any kind of scriptural basis for this however?

    To which historical periods are you referring? I would agree if you meant specifically the modern era.
     
  8. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    I personally think you are 'O.K' Fluffy...........;)

    The first problem (IMO) is that we are dealing with the O.T..........errant as it is.

    From: http://www.religioustolerance.org/exe_bibl1.htm




    for black magic: Exodus 22:18 states: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. This is a mistranslation. The passage has nothing to do with Wicca or other forms of Neo-paganism, which are the only types of Witchcraft that are practiced today in North America in significant numbers . The original Hebrew word is translated "sorceress" in most other versions of the Bible. A more accurate phrase would be "women who engage in black magic, harming others by the use of spoken curses." Men are left off the hook.

    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Harry_Potter/archive_1

    "The Bible" is commonly understood to refer to a document, currently in print in many different versions, which DOES mandate that witches be put to death in it's text. This says nothing about what individual Christians want. Those who claim to follow the Bible literally perforce must approve of the execution of witches. More liberal interpretations surely obviate the necessity of killing witches, but that does not change what the text itself says. Exodus 22:18, in KJV, NIV and RSE all spell it out quite clearly. --Dante Alighieri
    "The Bible" contains verses which some say mandate capital punishment, and verses which some say forbid it. It is therefore wrong to assert that just one of these is what "The Bible" says. Further discussion of suffering those who read Harry Potter to live belongs on another page, not the Harry Potter page. -- Someone else 01:32 Nov 27, 2002 (UTC)
    You can sit there and write about how "The Bible" does not necessarily mandate that witches be executed as long as you like. It does not alter the text of the document(s) one bit. Feel free to object to my characterization. I've even changed it so that the reference is to Exodus 22:18 rather than the Bible as a whole. If you have a problem with what's in the Bible, I suggest you take it up with the Pope and the heads of the various Protestant faiths... although since we're talking about the Old Testament here, you might want to talk to a few Rabbis as well. --Dante Alighieri
    The bible also specifies that children who speak out of turn should be stoned to death, as should anyone wearing cotten/polyester mix shirts. CheeseDreams 01:12, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
    I agree that the bible is contradictory on these matters, esp. New vs. Old Testament. However, even suggesting so can bring any god-fearing Christian up in arms -- it's all a natural flow and development! And it all coincidentally supports their belief system and no other! ;-) We should keep the article as it is now, or add a direct reference, but as SE said this is perhaps too detailed. --Eloquence
    It's not too detailed. We're talking about controversy over the books, and Exodus 22:18 is the root of that controversy. How can we talk about one without mentioning the other? --Dante Alighieri
    I have no problem with that, but when I read that, I'd like to directly get a quotation, and when we add that, it does in fact become too detailed, so we might want to move this information into a separate article (which should also include a list of all HP book burnings, I'd love to have that list). --Eloquence
    Hence the suggestion for a separate article on controversy, which I think we should have. Still, I've made the textual reference quite clear. There's a link to an entry on the Bible and that links to various online Bibles where one could look-up the relevant text. --Dante Alighieri
    It's false to suggest that said Christians oppose Harry Potter on the basis of a single Bible verse, or that their opposition depends on a mandate for capital punishment. All that remains is to think of a title for an article that might discuss this. -- Someone else 01:51 Nov 27, 2002 (UTC)
    I didn't say that Christians oppose Harry Potter on the basis of a single Bible verse. I also didn't say that their opposition depends on a mandate for capital punishment. I said that the ROOT of the controversy is that passage... which is true. Without that verse, I doubt the witch-burning hysteria of centuries past would ever have occurred. If you think that the witch-burnings and the ideology surrounding them have nothing to do with the current controversy, then I must quite simply disagree with you. That being said, I'm all in favor of an article on Exodus 22:18. Anyone agree? --Dante Alighieri
    I'm just saying that a reference invites a detailed discussion. But let's leave it at that until we have a separate article on the issue. --Eloquence
    I just wanted to explain why I added that disclaimer about not everyone believing that the Bible mandates capital punishment for witchcraft. According to what I have read at religioustolerance.org, in the original Greek or Aramaic or whatever, the quote about not suffering a witch to live is mistranslated and "witch" means "poisoner" (i.e. a murderer) in the original. I'm not saying this is true (I don't know or care), but it is an interpretation of the Bible. One can believe in the inerrancy of the Bible without believing in capital punishment for witches. Tokerboy 01:53 Nov 27, 2002 (UTC)

    The witch of endor is definitely a witch. I very much doubt that poisoners are in the habit of deliberately raising ghosts from the dead. CheeseDreams 01:12, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
    Well, the point is that most Christians who have problems with Harry Potter don't read those sort of things. The point of that section of the article is not to talk about all Christians, but those who have problems with the books. As I've stated above, all the major English translations of the Bible say basically the same thing. --Dante Alighieri
    I think the current paragraph on the controversy is excellent. I think it meets the requirement really very well indeed, and is a model of NPOV. Nevilley 08:57 Nov 27, 2002 (UTC)

    It's definitely better NPOV wise, but it's a false statement. It implies that "Some Christians" oppose Harry Potter because they believe the punishment for witchcraft is death: in actuality, they oppose Harry Potter because they believe witchcraft is evil. -- Someone else
    Well, that's just asking for further clarification -- what do they believe "witchcraft" to consist of? What do they believe "evil" to mean? Why do they believe that witchcraft is evil? How do the various prohibitions against witchcraft in scripture fit into it: is the modern belief that witchcraft is evil simply based on the longtime presence of biblical prohibitions against the practice, or is there something more specific which may or may not be directly relatable to the fictional wizardry depicted in fantasy novels, movies, and role-playing games? --Brion 11:55 Nov 27, 2002 (UTC)
    As I've stated above, I believe that the hysteria surrounding the Inquisition and the burning of witches (yes, I know, they are not necessarily directly related) has something to do with it. That and Exodus 22:18. --Dante Alighieri
    To qualify your post, the two or three centuries in which witchhunts were prominent (mainly the very late mediæval period and the whole of the renaissance) were characterised by persecutions in many non-English speaking countries. The concern was also more a variant of the concern with heresy than a simple literal application of the rule from the Bible. See witchhunt
    See Sarem witch trials CheeseDreams 01:12, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
     
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  9. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    Pt2

    But probably, the best is here: http://members.aol.com/RawnaMoon/bible.html

    and although the full text is well worth the read, the following contains The 'bare bones'
    The first thing we notice is that there are two words that are each translated one time as "Witch" or "Witchcraft" in the Hebrew Scriptures. 'Anan appears once in the NRSV that way and Qesem once in the KJV. Both these words have clear and precise meanings which are better translations.



    'Anan is usually translated in the KJV as "observer of times" and the NRSV usually renders it as "soothsayer". There is no rational reason why the NRSV departs from this practice as it does in Leviticus 19:26. Literally the term means one who watches clouds. From the context of its usage it would appear it means one who makes predictions by observing the clouds. A more reasonable translation would be "meteorologist"!


    What we are dealing with here is a prohibition of predicting the future. Of course any reflection at all will realize that predicting the future is something that is also commended in the Hebrew Scriptures! So the issue must be one of how one predicts the future. The root meaning of 'Anan would suggest that predicting the future based on observation of nature is off limits. Of course that causes us a problem today, for we depend on predictions of the future based on observation of nature. But we'll talk more about this issue in the article on Magick.


    The Hebrew term Qesem is universally translated as "divination" except for the one time in the KJV. On first glance "divination" seems the same thing as predicting the future. However, it isn't quite. Divination is less about predicting the future than it is about explaining the present and the ramifications the present, if unchanged, will have on the future. Another difference is that 'Anan is based on observation of nature, while Qesem happens through intuition, often using symbolic tools to facilitate that intuitive work. Again, divination is practiced in many times in the Scriptures where it is commended. We'll talk more about this also in the Magick article.


    What is important for the discussion in this article is the realization that predicting the future, using any method, and divination are not the same thing as Witchcraft. Many, many times I have been in Witch chat rooms and folk have come in asking for someone to predict their future. Almost every time a chorus of voices are raised saying, "This is a Witch room, you want a Psychic room." If you are unsure exactly what Witchcraft is, if it is not predicting the future or divination, that question is addressed in the article on "What is a Christian Witch".


    Another term we need to look at is the word 'Ob. Although I have never seen 'Ob translated as "Witch", the most famous 'Ob in the Bible is almost always called "The Witch of Endor." So it is pertinent for us to discuss what the term means.
    The KJV would translate is as "one who hath a familiar spirit", while the NRSV prefers "medium". I think "medium" is better for an 'Ob didn't seem to be a person who conversed with one spirit, as say the fictional Mayfair Witches in Anne Rice's books The Witching Hour conversed with the spirit Lasher. Rather an 'Ob was a person who seemed to be able to call up spirits of the dead. Medium is, in my opinion, the best modern term, but it too may be lacking. For when we think of a medium we think of someone who "channels" the spirit of the departed, while the story of the 'Ob of Endor has the dead spirit manifesting to the inquirer rather than being channeled through the 'Ob, but perhaps that story was an unusual case and the 'Ob normally operated in a similar way as modern mediums, like in the film Ghost.


    But again, it is important to note that Witchcraft is not about calling up the dead. Some Witches may do this, but one can practice the Craft and never be involved in such practices. We should also note that the identification of the 'Ob of Endor as the "Witch" of Endor is based on a number of conclusions that have no basis in fact. One is a confusion between conversing with the dead and dealing with "demons". There is no indication in the story of Endor that it wasn't really the spirit of the dead Samuel who was summoned, but it is a common assertion that anyone who attempts to converse with the dead is really dealing with demons. The second confusion is the false assertion that Witches gain their power by dealing with demons, especially the prince of demons, the Devil, perhaps even marrying the Devil. This false assertion has no basis in reality and stems from the hysteria of the late Middle Ages when such accusation were made not only against Witches, but also against Jews and "Heretics".


    So there is no justification in applying the passage about the 'Ob to Witchcraft. Just like what we found out about 'Anan and Qesem, this term is completely mistranslated whenever anyone associates it with Witchcraft.




    However, the real issue for us is the Hebrew term Kashaph and its related form of Keshaphim which are universally translated as "Witch" and "Witchcraft" in the KJV. The NRSV universally renders them "Sorcerer" and "Sorcery". What we want to do here is attempt to discover what the term meant in its Hebrew context.


    In my studies I have discovered only one other Hebrew term that is close at all in sound to Kashaph, that is the word Kasaph. This term means to be greedy, to have desire, or to long. This may be neither here nor there, but it is interesting when we think about the usage of the word Kashaph in some of the passages quoted above.


    The one that strikes me is the Nahum 3:4 passage. In it Assyria is compared to a prostitute who is a Kashaph. By her sexual practices and her Keshaphim she has captured or enslaved nations and peoples. We are also told that her sexuality and her Keshaphim make her extremely desirable and alluring.


    When we look at the 2 Kings 9:22 passage we find Jehu saying pretty much the same thing about the wicked Queen Jezebel. The story of Jezebel is one of a very alluring and attractive woman seducing first her husband the King and then an entire nation to false worship of a fertility cult of Ba'al and oppression of the poor in pursuit of materialistic wealth. In Jezebel's case we clearly see her as a Mistress of Lust and Greed. She is a Queen of Desire.


    The other thing we note about the usage of Kashaph is that it is often in lists of different kind of practitioners of supernatural ability. One thing to remember about the language of Hebrew is that it often used a literary device known as "Hebrew Parallelism". This means that ideas were repeated over and over with different terms to create a poetic effect. Some examples are "Love the Lord with all your heart and all your soul and all your might" or "I will give you the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Jebusites, the Perizites."


     
  10. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    Pt3.

    This informs us that these lists of supernatural practices are not so much an inventory of different things, but more a repeating of different terms, with different shades of meaning, that ultimately are speaking of one idea.


    Taking this fact seriously means we realize that a Kashaph was a person who practiced some form of supernatural activity, just as a medium or a diviner did. It would seem logical from the 2 Kings and Nahum passage to conclude that the kind of supernatural activity was one of seduction and control of others. It would seem a Kashaph was someone who was filled with a deep desire and longing for power over others who used supernatural powers to seduce them to be under his or her sway. It is interesting that Keshaphim is often coupled with sex, which also is something that people can misuse to cast a web of control over others.


    So we would be talking about somebody like a Svengali, someone who uses occultic powers to dominate others and bend them to his or her will. The victim of a person like this does not think of themselves as a victim, but instead feels such desire and longing in return to their "master" or "mistress" that they are totally unaware that they have been suborned.


    People who don't know a lot about Witchcraft often assume that this is exactly what being a Witch is all about. The most notorious form of magick that the uninformed want a Witch to do for them is a "Love Spell". It seems to me that a "Love Spell" is a form of Keshaphim. However, a "Love Spell" violates another's free will and so is not something a Witch who values the Rede, "'An it harm none, do as thou wilt", would ever consider doing.


    Thus Kashaph is mistranslated also when modern Bibles render it as Witch. I would assert that Sorcerer is also a mistranslation. Sorcery is a vague term that seems to imply anyone who practices supernatural activity. Kashaph has a connotation that is more specific. "Enchanter" or "Enchantress" might be a good term, but if one wants to translate different Hebrew terms into different English ones, then the fact that there is a Hebrew term that literally means "whisperer of enchantments" would cause us to search for another term. "Charmer" would work also, but we have the same problem here since there is a term that means "joiner of charms."


    My conclusion is that the best thing to do is use the Hebrew term itself and define it. My definition is:


    A Kashaph is a person who seduces other to his or her will through magical means.



    When we realize what a Kashaph really was, and think about how being one meant a commitment to suborning other's freedom and autonomy, then the extreme antipathy we find in Exodus 22 is not surprising. In fact this attitude of being against folk who would steal other's wills from them, is actually in harmony with the Witches' Rede! In a sense a Kashaph is a spiritual rapist, few of us would have trouble with the ancient Hebrew Scriptures repulsion over such as a rapist, even if today we don't feel such a crime deserves a death penalty.



    Finally we are left with the one New Testament appearance of "Witchcraft" in Galatians 5. The word is Pharmakeia. It is used two other times in the New Testament, both in Revelation, where it is translated in the KJV as "sorceries". Two related terms, Pharmakos and Pharmakeus also appear in Revelation where they are both translated as "Sorcerer".


    It shouldn't take much thought to realize the original Greek meaning of these terms, since we have English words that are directly descended from them. They are "Pharmacist" and "Pharmacy". Well, of course we can't have Bibles saying in Galatians that "Pharmacy" is a work of the flesh or saying in Revelation that the wrath of God will fall on "Pharmacists".


    Nevertheless, the original meaning of the term simply means the use of drugs to achieve changes in the human condition. Which is exactly what we use drugs for today! There was a time, though, when those who understood the powers of drugs were considered dabbling in the supernatural realm. It is a fact that Witches were the wise folk who knew how to use herbs. However, if we aren't willing to translate the Greek to our modern "Pharmacy" because we know longer consider the use of drugs to be an off limits supernatural activity, then it makes no sense to translate it as "Witchcraft", since the Craft's use of herbs is just folk Pharmacy!


    Because of this problem, many have assumed the term has a narrower focus than just any usage of drugs. Some have concluded that it means abuse of drugs. I doubt that, since that is a very modern way of thinking about drugs. But many Fundamentalists will use these passages to condemn recreational drug usage without seeming to realize that means they can't also use it to attack Witches.


    Another way the term is narrowed is to say it only refers to the usage of drugs to cause death. Thus it might best be translated as "poisoner", which is the first definition given in Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon. Others say that perhaps it refers to those who use drugs to control and enchant others. Thus we would be talking about something similar to the use of tetradotoxim to turn people into living zombies. This is how Young's Analytical Concordance understands it, defining it as "enchantment with drugs".


    Another idea is that it refers to the use of drugs to alter consciousness so that one might enter into the supernatural realm or achieve spiritual enlightenment. This has some validity to it since drug use was an ancient mystical adjunct. A modern example of this was Timothy Leary's advocacy of LSD for just such purposes, or the usage of Peyote by some Native American practitioners.


    This later practice is something that some Witches also do. But I must stress that it is not an integral aspect of the Craft and one could practice Witchcraft and never avail oneself of a "Flying Ointment".


    Thus no matter which viable translation of Pharmakei we decide on, it really isn't a prohibition of Witchcraft at all.
    Thus I conclude that the concern that the Bible prohibits Witchcraft or being a Witch is not a real issue. What the Bible does prohibit is being a poisoner, being someone who calls up the dead, being someone who seeks to foretell the future apart from the Spirit of God, being a seducer of others by supernatural means or by using drugs, and perhaps using drugs to achieve spiritual enlightenment instead of relying on the Spirit of God. All of these have been mistranslated as Witchcraft, but none of them are.
    :)
     
  11. MdmSzdWhtGuy

    MdmSzdWhtGuy Well-Known Member

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    I would love to hear from a Young Earth Biblical Literalist on this issue. Wonder how they mesh the commandment not to kill with the various comandments to kill homosexuals, witches, etc. . .

    B.
     
  12. dawny0826

    dawny0826 Mother Heathen

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    My thoughts are that God's intent was to warn His people...that if they stray from HIM...the result would be death. I mean, this was a time where God was right there, on a mountain, speaking to Moses...and even after SEEING God's glory...people were turning away. God fulfilled His promises to them by delivering them from Egypt and providing for them and HE WAS (and IS) in the position to demand their allegiance.

    I know that passage is a very STRONG passage and it's hard to understand, especially if you don't trust and believe in Him but if you read the entire book of Genesis and Exodus...you'll see just WHAT God did for HIS people. You'll see that God so loved his people...that he was loyal to them.

    Through Moses, you'll read in the book of Exodus where He was establishing law and order...He was establishing the very first church...God was teaching HIS people about obedience and if they strayed...death very well could have been the result...BUT this would never be done as an act of cruelty...it was done for the EDIFYING of His people...so that they would see that YES...he really IS a jealous God and that your place as His Child was to obey your Father.

    As far as this verse applying to present day...absolutely not! The OT is important to Christians but we're bound moreso by the NT....and Jesus Christ instructed us to LOVE each other regardless of our differences.

    I think the persecution of witches and sorcerors over history is disgusting. And if these people claimed to do such acts in the name of God...they certaintly weren't speaking of MY God.

    No, I don't think that passage has a place in Christianity at all. I think it was a STRONG message to those who were turning their backs against their God...a God who provided for and delivered His people...a People who SAW with their own eyes, the Glory of God and still walked away...
     
  13. jeffrey

    jeffrey †ßig Dog†

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    Excellent, Michel! I read somewhere also that it was a mis-translation for 'poison' or poisoner.'
     
  14. jeffrey

    jeffrey †ßig Dog†

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  15. jewscout

    jewscout Religious Zionist

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    it is based loosely on the commandments given to adam and those given to noah (Adam and the first 6 and then Noah was given the 7th, the pohibition against eating meat from an animal still alive)

    but the specifics of it comes from Talmud and other commentary on the text (Sanhedrin 56a; Rambam, Hil. Malachim 9:1)
     
  16. jewscout

    jewscout Religious Zionist

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    well...since the commandment you are speaking of is a prohibition against murder it's different than carrying out a death penalty against those violating the law.
     
  17. MdmSzdWhtGuy

    MdmSzdWhtGuy Well-Known Member

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    Jewscout,

    I am aware the "Thou shall not kill" is a mis-translation which more properly should read "don't commit murder" however, a literal KJV of the Bible prohibits, killing, but admonishes followers to murder homosexuals, witches, etc. . . . If a person is following the KJV literally, then that person should never kill, obviously.

    B.
     
  18. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Probably the Septuagint, with its all inclusive masculine plural.
     
  19. Deut 13:1

    Deut 13:1 Well-Known Member

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    I'll be sure to let you be the first person to know when all of these and several other requirements can be met to have the trial in the first place.

    Deuteronomy 16
    18. You shall set up judges and law enforcement officials for yourself in all your cities that the Lord, your God, is giving you, for your tribes, and they shall judge the people [with] righteous judgment. 19. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show favoritism, and you shall not take a bribe, for bribery blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts just words. 20. Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may live and possess the land the Lord, your God, is giving you.

    Deuteronomy 17
    5. Then you shall bring out that man or that woman who has committed this evil thing, to your cities, the man or the woman, and you shall pelt them with stones, and they shall die.
    6. By the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall the one liable to death be put to death; he shall not be put to death by the mouth of one witness.

    Deuteronomy 17
    8. If a matter eludes you in judgment, between blood and blood, between judgment and judgment, or between lesion and lesion, words of dispute in your cities, then you shall rise and go up to the place the Lord, your God, chooses.
    9. And you shall come to the Levitic kohanim and to the judge who will be in those days, and you shall inquire, and they will tell you the words of judgment.

    Deuteronomy 19
    15. One witness shall not rise up against any person for any iniquity or for any sin, regarding any sin that he will sin. By the mouth of two witnesses, or by the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be confirmed.

    Deuteronomy 17
    16. If a false witness rises up against a man, to bear perverted testimony against him,
    17. Then the two men between whom the controversy exists shall stand before the Lord, before the kohanim and the judges who will be in those days.
    18. And the judges shall inquire thoroughly, and behold, the witness is a false witness; he has testified falsely against his brother;
    19. then you shall do to him as he plotted to do to his brother, and you shall [thus] abolish evil from among you.
    20. And those who remain shall listen and fear, and they shall no longer continue to commit any such evil thing among you.
    21. You shall not have pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
     
  20. Kip Ingram

    Kip Ingram New Member

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    That makes a lot of sense to me. In other words, it's really about intent, which puts this in the same category as a whole bunch of other activities. There are many behaviors we can engage in that might be entirely acceptable if done for some purposes, and entirely unacceptable if done for others. The purposes toward which free will is directed tends to make up my mind about "rightness" vs. "wrongness."

    When I'm given a "Don't do that" dictate, I generally want to have a "why" given as well. "Just because" doesn't strike me as nearly so good a reason as something like "because free will is sacrosanct and not to be taken away." Respect for life, property, and freedom really form the whole basis of my system of values.

    On a related note, I find it very, VERY hard to believe that we have had the Word of God passed down to us through the ages without any political or selfish "tampering." There's a great deal of material in the scriptures that I find to be wholly incompatible with the notion of an all-loving God. On the other hand, they're completely compatible with the idea of a group of humans using the faith as a system via which to control others. I consider the probability of this not having happened to be pretty much zero.
     
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