Bible Book List
Reformation Study Bible – Deut 19:21
Deut 19:21

19:21 eye for eye. Much argument has revolved about this verse. Some contend it is brutal and opposed to New Testament ideas of love and mercy. The phrase “eye for eye” occurs twice more in the Pentateuch (Ex. 21:24; Lev. 24:20). In each case, the verse is in a legal context; it is a principle of public justice—the penalty must fit the crime. There are indications that the term was not taken literally (Ex. 21:18, 26, 27). The only physical penalty mentioned in the law is flogging, and that limited to forty strokes (Deut. 25:3). Christ opposed those who used this verse as an excuse for personal vengeance (Matt. 5:38 note). See notes Ex. 21:24 and Lev. 24:20.