Answers to Quora Questions by Yair Davidiy (18 December 2017, 30 Kislev, 5778)
Picture of General Moshe Dayan.
A person with one eye who takes out the eye of another and then has his own eye taken out becomes blind. His victim can still see since a one-eyed individual is not blind. The damage in this case is not equivocal. The Rabbinical Commentators (cf. Iben Ezra) quoted such an instance to show that the verse in question should not be understood as saying that anything other than compensation is required.
There never was an "eye for an eye" rule in its literal sense. It is an invention of Christian scholars who were mistaken and/or prejudiced against the Old Testament.
The Christians wish to view themselves as adhering to a a faith of love and forgiveness. They think they have been chosen to replace the "old" religion which they depict as harsh and unforgiving.
What does the verse really say?
Exodus (NASB) 21:
22 If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. 23 But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
We are here focusing on the beginning of Exodus 21: 24 i.e. "eye for eye." The Aramaic Targum of Yehonathan paraphrases Exodus 21:24 "the price of an eye for an eye." The Hebrew original says in Exodus 21:24 "ayin tachat ayin." It does not say "an eye for an eye" but rather "eye under [tachat] eye" i.e. "eye in place of an eye." This implies the value of an eye in place of an eye. This is how it was ALWAYS understood. Someone who takes out the eye of another has to compensate them with the value of that eye.