Senior Member

the following sentence is from the book "Family planning in the Graeco-Roman antiquity".

"Mosaic law (Ex. 21.22-25) stipulates penalties for those who unintentionally cause the death of a foetus: a fine if only the embryo is lost, death if the mother too dies."

It seems that I don't quite understand the usage of "unintentionally". To me "if someone intentionally causes the death of a foetus" would be a problem. Why "uintentionally"? Probably something escapes me. Thanks in advance for your help.
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    It would help to quote the relevant passage from the Bible. This is from the New International Version:
    If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurelya but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.​
    a Or she has a miscarriage [This footnote is part of the translation]​

    The paraphrase you quote seems very selective in its interpretation. However, the "unintentionally" part is explained, referring to a specific action: two or more people (presumably men) are fighting, and one of them accidentally hits a pregnant woman.

    Note that the foetus's life (or that of the prematurely born child) appears to have no value in itself; the bit about "life for life...bruise for bruise" refers to the mother, at least, as I read it.
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