An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth

The meaning of the principle, an eye for an eye, is that a person who has injured another person receives the same injury in compensation. The exact Latin (lex talionis) to English translation of this phrase is actually “The law of retaliation.” At the root of this principle is that one of the purposes of the law is to provide equitable retribution for an offended party.

The phrase, “an eye for an eye“, (ayin tachat ayin, literally ‘an eye in place of an eye’), is a quotation from several passages of the Hebrew Bible in which a person who has injured the eye of another is instructed to pay compensation. It defined and restricted the extent of retribution in the laws of the Torah.

The English word talion means a punishment identical to the offense, from the Latin talio. The principle of “an eye for an eye” is often referred to using the Latin phrase lex talionis, the law of talion.

This is the doctrine of revenge, preached against by Jesus Christ in his sermon on the mount: ‘Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye,and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek,turn to him the other also.’


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