Book Report: Abortion and the Hebrew Bible

Pages: 5 (1684 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper

Abortion and the Hebrew Bible

Abortion is often an issue debated with scripture. Yet the difficulty lies in translation and interpretation of passages in the Old and New Testament. The problem is that the determination of right or wrong with regard to abortion is that there is nowhere in the bible that directly determines when a fetus becomes a living being with a soul. In the Hebrew tradition it is generally believed that the child is not a living soul (nefesh in Hebrew), until its head has emerged from the birth canal and that human life was so fragile that there was no way to know if the newborn would live or die until it had reached a month in age.

The Old Testament or the Hebrew bible makes few references directly to the fetus but in interpretation the Jewish tradition, in its modern context holds that the fetus is a part of the pregnant woman until its delivery. Up to this point the fetus is not considered a living being, though it has the potential of being a living being and therefore has value its value is treated in a monetary manner, like much other "legal" property of the husband. This interpretation is based on a few passages from the Hebrew Bible:

22 and if men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow, he shall be surely fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine? 23 but if any harm follow, then thou shalt give life for life? 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot? {?} 25 burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. {S} (Exodus 21:22-25)

In this passage the interpretation is that if the fetus dies as a direct result of the fight the man who caused the miscarriage must pay a fine determined by the husband or a judge but if the woman dies he is put to death, as a murderer, if no harm comes to the woman the man is not held accountable, but the miscarriage is redacted by monetary rather than eye for an eye justice.

Children in general were given a monetary value, though this does not refer to their death it does imply that before they are born and live for a month they have no value: "? 6 and if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy valuation shall be for the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy valuation shall be three shekels of silver." (Leviticus 27:6) the implication of this is that they are not considered a living being with potential for either good or bad, or industry to society or the lord, i.e. The valuation aspect, until they have reached the age of one month. This is again supported by Numbers 3:15 where the people are given a pronouncement by god to take a census which included every male a month or more old. "? 15 'Number the children of Levi by their fathers' houses, by their families; every male from a month old and upward shalt thou number them." (Numbers 3:15)

There is also ample evidence in the bible of the value of children, especially male children and therefore their rightful place as consecrated beings. Some interpret these passages as supportive of the willingness of God to have men kill (sacrifice) their children which proves God's belief that they are of little value. Yet here we forget the anthropological interpretation of sacrifice in general. Sacrifice implies that the individual is giving up to God that which is most valuable, as in the new testament giving when someone has little is more powerful than giving when one has plenty to give and not giving at all is proof of not believing. "? 2 'Sanctify unto Me all the first-born, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast, it is Mine." (Exodus 13:1-2) Yet, when speaking of abortion this contention is foundational as it says that the first "born" male who has been the offspring of every womb belongs to the lord and is therefore the most valuable thing that a man can give as testament to his lord. It also must be noted that God is merely saying that the first born male should be consecrated to him, though literal sacrifice is also commonly practiced as a result of this (in some places and times) consecration simply means to hold the item of value to a more sacred standard, i.e. separate it from the profane and make it sacred, in the case of a person that means set that person aside from the profane, make his industry more holy and for the good of God, not necessarily the good of mankind. His industry was considered valuable based on his or her age and potential and therefore when one consecrated a living being, it had a greater value the more potentially productive it was, leaving less room for that consecrated item (person, animal or good) to be an empty offering.

Pro-life proponents, i.e. those who choose to believe that abortion is not ordained or even allowed by God, often use Deuteronomy 30:19 as their main argument where the text says: "? 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed;" (30:19) Yet, in this passage the text is speaking of belief, not supporting a Pro-life stance. He is saying today I give you the ultimate choice I give you life or I give you death (at the precipice of a decision at the return of exile) therefore you must believe in and worship me (Jehovah/Yahweh/the Lord) or you and your children will not have life and prosperity. This is supported fully by the context of the previous passages, which are often omitted, at will by those who profess the pro-life perspective and take the message entirely out of context.

15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil? 16 in that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances; then thou shalt live and multiply, and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest in to possess it? 17 but if thy heart turn away, and thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them? 18 I declare unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish; ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over the Jordan to go in to possess it. Deuteronomy 30:15-18)

The passage has nothing whatsoever to do with abortion, as it professes that God will most likely strike the Israelites down (including the unborn) if they do not follow him and his commandments, laws and customs. The commandments include those professed by Moses and of course include the 6th commandment? 12 Thou shalt not murder (Exodus 20:12) which is supported as meaning you shall not kill another full human being by nearly every other reference to murder in the Hebrew bible, not an unborn child.

In Exodus the lord speaks of his superiority to earthly leaders and rewards the midwives of Egypt for not killing the first born sons of the Hebrew women.

15 and the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of… [END OF PREVIEW]

Four Different Ordering Options:

?
Which Option Should I Choose?

1.  Buy the full, 5-page paper:  $28.88

or

2.  Buy + remove from all search engines
(Google, Yahoo, Bing) for 30 days:  $38.88

or

3.  Access all 175,000+ papers:  $41.97/mo

(Already a member?  Click to download the paper!)

or

4.  Let us write a NEW paper for you!

Ask Us to Write a New Paper
Most popular!

Bible and Law Abortion Research Paper


Universal Declaration of Human Rights Term Paper


Western Religions Given the Remarkable Diversity Term Paper


Christianity vs. Mormonism Term Paper


Civil Courts and Christians Essay


View 11 other related papers  >>

Cite This Book Report:

APA Format

Abortion and the Hebrew Bible.  (2010, December 12).  Retrieved June 26, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/abortion-hebrew-bible/497432

MLA Format

"Abortion and the Hebrew Bible."  12 December 2010.  Web.  26 June 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/abortion-hebrew-bible/497432>.

Chicago Format

"Abortion and the Hebrew Bible."  Essaytown.com.  December 12, 2010.  Accessed June 26, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/abortion-hebrew-bible/497432.