pic from hereThat is him in the middle, the offspring of a Danite woman and an Egyptian man. It seems like he was visiting his mum (maybe he had had a row with dad?) and then, perhaps because someone made an unkind remark about his parentage, and then got into a fight and whilst he was fighting blasphemed (v11). So the Israelites, who until that point had been enjoying watching a good fight, put him in custody until Moses could tell them what God wanted them to do (v12). So far so good, the Lord then speaks to Moses explaining the method for dealing with blasphemers and also pointing out that the same rule applied to both aliens and citizens, one rule for all (v13-17). But then God seems to go off on a tangent,
'If anyone takes the life of a human being, he must be put to death. Anyone who takes the life of someone's animal must make restitution—life for life. If anyone injures his neighbour, whatever he has done must be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so he is to be injured. Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a man must be put to death. You are to have the same law for the alien and the native-born. I am the LORD your God.' Lev 24:17-22Which you might think started a new subject, except for the fact it cannot, because the story that started with the introduction of the half-Israelite half-Eygyptian blasphemer is yet to finish, and does in fact finish in the next verse, where his story ends with his violent death (v23). So what is the connection between blasphemy and the lex talionis, so that the author would place the two together like that? (if indeed they needed to "placed" together in the first place)
What occurred to me as I pondered this was whether or not this might relate to Gen 9:6, where we have another lex talionis (kind of), that "whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person's blood be shed; for in his own image God made humankind." (NRSV) Isn't the justification for this lex talionis that murder equates in someway to blasphemy against the image of God in one's fellow human? In which case the link between blasphemy and murder has already been made. In Lev 24:10-23, that link is simply made in another direction, possibly predicated on Gen 9:6. The punishment for blasphemy is death, and murder is itself a form of blasphemy, so it is simple move to go from talking about blasphemy (of the name) to murder (of the image bearer). However the law is careful to differentiate between the life of an animal and the life of a human, because the animal does not bear the image (v18, 21; animal rights activists take note!). On the other hand it is equally careful to remove differentiation between citizen and alien in this matter, all human life is equally sacred, it is not dependent on nationality (v16, 22).
Ok, so here are some questions:
1) How come all the conservative Christians that want the death penalty for murder don't campaign equally vigorously for the death penalty for blasphemy?
2) Those of you who don't support the death penalty for murder, what does that say about your valuing of the human life that was taken?
3) Matt 5:38-42 anyone?