Satlow’s argument that, “the Rabbis creatively rework or even subvert biblical ideal” (Satlow, “Creating Judaism,” 141), is one that I unquestionably agree with. By that statement, I believe he means that the Rabbis have made changes to, and even undermined the power and authority of, the biblical texts and the ideas they present. Based on past rabbinic literature readings that I have done, I would have to say that yes, I do agree with Satlow’s statement. That’s because there are many instances throughout the readings where the Rabbis seem to be challenging or not being completely accepting of what the bible says. Their interpretations vary, and they don’t accept the literal meaning of things, for example the “eye for an eye” case or even the Cain and Abel story. Not everyone accepts the statements in the Bible as they are told, and instead they adjust and modify them to better suit more contemporary times, whether it be modernizing laws or molding a story to make it more appealing and comprehensible.
“When men fight and one of them pushes a pregnant women and a miscarriage results, but no other damage ensues, the one responsible shall be fined…But if other damage ensues, the penalty shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” Those are the exact words from Exodus 21 found in the Bible. When the Rabbis were discussing that passage, they ended up with a different idea. An idea involving financial compensation rather than literal, physical punishment. Of course, there were other Rabbis who would agree with my point, saying “Why [pay compensation]? Does the divine Law not say Eye for eye? Why not take this literally?” (Rabbinic Discussion of Exodus 21) That example proves to show that the Rabbis did rework biblical ideals. How they decided that their way of looking at things was better is beyond me. It is confusing to even try to imagine their motive of wanting...
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