Biblical ways to loose a body part
There are plenty of ways to lose a body part in Scripture, but the most interesting by far is found in Deuteronomy 25:11–12: “If two men are fighting together and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.”
This is the sort of stuff you bump into once you start tracking every mention of the word woman in the Bible.
Like a lava lamp with a “Do not ingest” warning label on it, Deuteronomy 25 begs the question, what exactly went down to turn this scenario into law? It’s just too bizarre to be purely preemptive.
Most scholars believe the passage dictates the proper response to a breach of modesty, though others cite similar laws in the Middle Assyrian code that suggest such a punishment may only apply in the case of genital mutilation. Sounds to me like some unsuspecting couple’s very bad day got preserved like a fossil for the rest of us to puzzle over for millennia.
That’s the thing about the Bible. A lot of it gets lost in translation. We modern readers tend to surgically remove the verses we like and stick them on calendars and coffee mugs without paying much attention to the textual, historical, and cultural contexts from which they came. Passages such as Deuteronomy 25:11–12 keep us humble because they remind us that the Bible is a story within a story, and its meaning can be illuminated or darkened depending on how much we know about the people who wrote it and the questions they were asking at the time.
Fortunately for me, this commandment fell into the “not applicable” category, since Dan’s not a big brawler, and I’m more likely to call the cops than to, uh, take “matters” into my own hands. Still, it’s nice to have a few gimmes.