Does Exodus 21:22 Reveal that in God’s Eyes a Child in The Womb Is Not a Full Life?


I don’t allow trollish comments on the blog.  But I do not have the option of approving comments on Facebook, so sometimes, they get through. I do not rebut to most of them on my Facebook page unless it is someone trying to misuse the Word of God. Which irritates me. So here is the comment:

Exodus 21:22 “If some men are fighting and hurt a pregnant woman so that she loses her child, but she is not injured in any other way, the one who hurt her is to be fined whatever amount the woman’s husband demands, subject to the approval of the judges. 23 But if the woman herself is injured, the punishment shall be life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot”…..It seems even God doesn’t respect an unborn child as a full life..

Sigh.  Ok.  You got me.  Let’s do this.

The Hebrew text for Exodus 21:22 is as follows:

כב וְכִי-יִנָּצוּ אֲנָשִׁים, וְנָגְפוּ אִשָּׁה הָרָה וְיָצְאוּ יְלָדֶיהָ, וְלֹא יִהְיֶה,
אָסוֹן–עָנוֹשׁ יֵעָנֵשׁ, כַּאֲשֶׁר יָשִׁית עָלָיו בַּעַל הָאִשָּׁה, וְנָתַן, בִּפְלִלִים.

Yeah.  I need Logos to read that as well. The 1611 version of the Bible or the King James Version renders it as:

If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

The 1984 version of the NIV reads as:

If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely 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…etc.

The pro-aborts always use this verse in a vain attempt to try and support their cause. And many Christians do not know how to respond because the English translations do not necessarily do the verse justice. So, let’s go through it.

My question is why do the pro aborts presume the child is dead? The likely reason is because the English word “miscarriage” or the phrase “to lose” in most versions certainly implies death, however, nothing in the Hebrew wording suggests death at all. The word “Yasa” does not mean miscarriage; it literally means “to come forth.” The word itself never suggests death. In fact, “Yasa” generally implies the opposite: live birth. Also, Hebrew had a specific word for miscarriage: “Nephel.” Nephel was used in other verses, so, why not here? Well it is because Moses did not intend to write miscarriage. If he did, he would have used Nephel. What Moses is stating is that the child is born alive but prematurely, and does not die, and that the penalty of life for life, eye for eye, etc. applies to the child as well as the mother. If injury comes to the child or the mother there will not just be a fine but life for life, eye for eye, etc. This verse is in fact protecting the rights of the unborn child, and because the child is deprived of reaching full term, the father will demand payment in order to care for the child.

So a literal reading of the Hebrew would be as follows:

And when men fight and hit a pregnant woman and her children go forth, and there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the husband of the woman may put upon him; and he shall give by the judges. But if there is injury, you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

So if we take this and read it naturally, as Moses intended it in the original Hebrew, it would be that the child goes forth from the womb and there is no injury to either the child or to the mother. How can I say this? Because Moses would have inserted the Hebrew word “lah” to specify injury to only the mother, which then would be rendered “If her children go forth and there is no injury to her.”

But that is not how it reads, is it?

So do not fear, my fellow Christians. God does love the child in the womb. He does not just see the unborn child as a piece of pottery or a clump of cells.  In fact he values the unborn far beyond measure. He knits us together with care, so we can say with king David,

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

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  1. Matthew Breukelman says:

    Wonderfully said. It is easy to misconstrue a text when used for how WE see it but you clearly pointed out God’s amazing love for all His children! Psalm 22:9,10 Yet you brought me out of the womb;You made me trust in You even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God

  2. thelyniezian says:

    I had been wondering about the meaning of this verse for a long time. It seems the so-called “pro-choice” brigade love to use this verse to undermine the “pro-life”/anti-abortion position but I have often questioned this.