Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Defense of Others (Part 2)

A guest post by JS:
Compare the verse in last week's parsha (see my previous post), to this almost identical verse in the book of Samuel 2.

The story involves Yoav trying to teach King David a lesson in a similar fashion to how the Prophet Natan does concerning David's taking of BatSheva. He has a woman pose a halachic question to him and ask for a ruling. David is then exposed as a hypocrite for not following his own advice. In this case, for sending Avshalom away.

Perek 14:
ו וּלְשִׁפְחָתְךָ, שְׁנֵי בָנִים, וַיִּנָּצוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם בַּשָּׂדֶה, וְאֵין מַצִּיל בֵּינֵיהֶם; וַיַּכּוֹ הָאֶחָד אֶת-הָאֶחָד, וַיָּמֶת אֹתוֹ.
יא וַתֹּאמֶר יִזְכָּר-נָא הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶת-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, מהרבית (מֵהַרְבַּת) גֹּאֵל הַדָּם לְשַׁחֵת, וְלֹא יַשְׁמִידוּ, אֶת-בְּנִי; וַיֹּאמֶר, חַי-יְהוָה, אִם-יִפֹּל מִשַּׂעֲרַת בְּנֵךְ, אָרְצָה.

6. Your maid-servant had two sons and they struggled against one another in a field. And there was no one to save either of them such that one struck the other and killed him.
11. And she said "May the king remember the Lord, his God, to prevent the blood-avenger from further seeking to destroy, so that my son should not be killed." And King David responded, "As God lives, not a hair from your son's head shall be harmed."

So, again, here we have an almost identical verse (This comes across more in the Hebrew, the verses read almost identically). In the first case, one of men's wives interferes and grabs the attacker's private parts to save her husband. The Torah prescribes a punishment to cut off her hand - or to pay a monetary compensation as the Rabbis have taught. And yet here, King David says the Halacha is that no harm shall come to the man who killed his attacker.

Why the difference? The maid-servant's story seems to indicate that she wishes a woman (or someone else) was there to interfere, she says the death resulted because "there was no one to save either of them." Furthermore, from the nearly identical language and the stated result in the maid-servant's story, it seems that in the Torah case if the wife did not interfere, her husband would have been killed. Is it better to allow one person to kill the other than to have someone be embarrassed by having a woman grab his privates?
Buy DB's book. (please)

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