The "harshness" of the Old Testament

"Harshness" of the Old Testament

            There are those who think the New Testament is a teaching of love (which is true) and that the Old Testament is a teaching of harshness and hate (which is false). The people who believe this are "monoversal doctrineers"; people who form or accept doctrines based on one verse or one passage, without reading the Bible in its entirety.

            It seems like they believe God long ago preached harshness and hate, and later changed his opinion and decided to preach love in the New Testament. To them Heb 13:8 says nothing about the immutability of God's being.

            Why do some of our brothers believe that the Old Testament was teaching harshness, lack of mercy, and even hate? They base themselves on Mt 5:38 and 43, where the Lord mentions phrases and sayings that were used in their culture, but didn't form part of the law God established. It didn't occur to them to look in the Old Testament to see if what they understood was true.

       Ye heard that it was said: Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth           (Mt 5:38)


       Ye heard that it was said: Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and shalt hate thine enemy                                                                      (Mt 5:43)

            There's no place in the Old Testament that commands us to hate our enemies. I am tired of hearing nonsense regarding the harshness and cruelty of the Old Testament, in comparison to the love displayed in the New Testament. Those who don't know the Bible and hear this nonsense will come to the conclusion that God and his servants wrote the New Testament; and Satan and his henchmen wrote the Old Testament.

            These people do not understand that the Old Testament, just like the New Testament, is God's word. One cannot contradict the other because God doesn't contradict himself, nor changes his convictions. The Old and New Testament do not contradict each other; instead they compliment each other. They are two parts chronologically distant, yet come from the same unity. Notice that the Lord Jesus doesn't say, "God ordered", or "God said", instead he plainly says, "it was said".

            That of "an eye for an eye" was a norm given to judges and not a law for the common citizen. In the following passages you'll clearly see that eye for an eye wasn't permission to execute personal vengeance on someone. It wasn't said for people to have justification for their hate or acts of vengeance; instead it was given to judges as a norm for judgment. Judges used this when there wasn't a written law concerning an issue.

            What had happened was that the people twisted the original purpose of that law so that they could use it as justification for their concupiscence, vengeance, and personal hate. What occurs here (even with Christians) is that tradition superimposes the law of God. The same thing is seen in the worshiping of saints and virgins. Let's look at some passages that contain the phrase eye for an eye and we'll see that it only referred to the judges.

       22 And when men strive, and have smitten a pregnant woman, and her children have come out, and there is no mischief, he is certainly fined, as the husband of the woman doth lay upon him, and he hath given through the judges; 23 and if there is mischief, then thou hast given life for life, 24 eye for eye,  tooth for tooth,  hand for hand,  foot for foot, 25 burning for burning,  wound for wound,  stripe for stripe.”                                                                                                        (Ex 21:22-25)

            Like we were able to see in verse 22, eye for an eye, etc., was said to the arbitrators. In Lev 24:17-20 you'll see a better clarification; the law that was read in this passage was a guide for the judges. Another one is seen in Dt 19:18-21, where in judging a false witness, it was commanded that whatever he was thinking about doing against his neighbor be done unto him. Again, this is an example of an eye for an eye”.

       17 And when a man smiteth any soul of man, he is certainly put to death. 18 And he who smiteth a beast repayeth it, body for body. 19 And when a man putteth a blemish in his fellow, as he hath done so it is done to him; 20 breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he putteth a blemish in a man so it is done in him.”                                                                                                                   (Lv 24:17-20)


       18 And the judges have searched diligently, and lo, the witness is a false witness, a falsehood he hath testified against his brother, 19 then ye have done to him as he devised to do to his brother, and thou hast put away the evil thing out of thy midst, 20 and those who are left do hear and fear, and add not to do any more according to this evil thing in thy midst; 21 and thine eye doth not pity, life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”         (Dt 19:18-21)

            The "eye for an eye" phrase found in Mt 5:38 proves that it was used in a corruptive manner and not for its function. In Ex 23:4-5 and Lev 19:17-18 enemies were treated in a substantially different way. What is taught there is quite contrary to the corruption of this judicial norm. Jesus, rebuking the Pharisees, mention this to them face to face in Mt 5:38.

       4 When thou meetest thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou dost certainly turn it back to him. 5 When thou seest the ass of him who is hating thee crouching under its burden, then thou hast ceased from leaving it to it, thou dost certainly leave it with him.”                                          (Ex 23:4-5)


       17 Thou dost not hate thy brother in thy heart; thou dost certainly reprove thy fellow, and not suffer sin on him. 18 Thou dost not take vengeance, nor watch the sons of thy people; and thou hast had love to thy neighbour as thyself; I am Jehovah.”                                                                                (Lev 19:17-18)

            There are Christians who by reading the New Testament believe that forgiveness and love was invented for the first time in the New Testament. The passages that we just read show us that God commanded us to love those who detest us and those who are our enemies. This contradicts those who say the old pact was one of grudges, harshness, and vengeance; and that the contraposition of the new pact is now love, forgiveness, and gentleness. They act as if God was one way back then, and has now changed his way of being. Or that God was harsh, had vengeance, and held grudges while Jesus was the opposite: gentle, a person of love and forgiveness. These are blasphemies and blunders, caused by Biblical ignorance.

            To the monoversal doctrineers, Ex 23:4-5, where love towards our enemies is preached, means nothing. Instead, they only notice, can notice, want to notice, or were taught to notice Mt 5:38 and 43. It is there where they embrace the distorted idea of what they believe about the Old Testament. They don't have discernment or independent intellectual capabilities to analyze the rest of the Bible on their own. They already created their own monoversal doctrine based on one or two verses. Now they have a monoversal doctrine to preach.

            It's a tremendous folly and insult to God to say that "before" he preached harshness, hate, and was unmerciful, and now he preaches love. Lets look at other verses in the Old Testament that preach love.

       15 Thou dost not shut up a servant unto his lord, who is delivered unto thee from his lord; 16 with thee he doth dwell, in thy midst, in the place which he chooseth within one of thy gates, where it is pleasing to him; thou dost not oppress him.”                                                                         (Dt 23:15-16)

            In the previous passage we see the right to asylum. A man who flees from another man or institution for pious reasons should be welcomed and protected. Not only that, he should also be treated with the same respect, and have the same rights as those who are native to the land.

       21 And a sojourner thou dost not oppress, nor crush him, for sojourners ye have been in the land of Egypt. 22 Any widow or orphan ye do not afflict.”                                                                                                                (Ex 22:21-22)


       And a sojourner thou dost not oppress, and ye have known the soul of the sojourner, for sojourners ye have been in the land of Egypt.”   (Ex 23:9)


       32 At the presence of grey hairs thou dost rise up, and thou hast honoured the presence of an old man, and hast been afraid of thy God; I am Jehovah. 33 And when a sojourner sojourneth with thee in your land, thou dost not oppress him; 34 as a native among you is the sojourner to you who is sojourning with you, and thou hast had love to him as to thyself, for sojourners ye have been in the land of Egypt; I am Jehovah your God.”                                                           (Lv 19:32-34)


       And in your reaping the harvest of your land thou dost not complete the corner of thy field in thy reaping, and the gleaning of thy harvest thou dost not gather, to the poor and to the sojourner thou dost leave them; I Jehovah am your God.”                                                                                                      (Lv 23:22)


       And the sabbath of the land hath been to you for food, to thee, and to thy man-servant, and to thy handmaid, and to thy hireling, and to thy settler, who are sojourning with thee                                                    (Lv 25:6)


       18 He is doing the judgment of fatherless and widow, and loving the sojourner, to give to him bread and raiment. 19 And ye have loved the sojourner, for sojourners ye were in the land of Egypt                 (Dt 10:18-19)

            After reading the previous passages I ask myself, how many of those who believe the Old Testament was harsh and cruel practice the charity or love that it establishes? How many of them, who are foolish enough to believe that God's law was cruel, actually practice the cruel law mandated by Moses? How many of them separate a substantial part of their earnings for orphans, widows, and poor people in general? How many of them respect the elderly by rising at the presence of gray hairs, like it is established in the law of God they consider harsh”. How many help foreigners who are in need, like the cruel and harsh Law of Moses orders us to?

            In the Old Testament, the tithe of every third year was used integrally for deeds of charity. It was used in favor of the orphans, in favor of the widows, in favor of the foreigners, and in favor of the Levites, who couldn't sustain themselves. Above all it helped those who lived in cities of the interior, according to Dt 14:28-29. This is how the tithes were administered, in conjunction with the law that was established. We see another example in Dt 26:12-13. Let's take a look.

       22 Thou dost certainly tithe all the increase of thy seed which the field is bringing forth year by year; 23 and thou hast eaten before Jehovah thy God, in the place where He doth choose to cause His name to tabernacle, the tithe of thy corn, of thy new wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herd, and of thy flock, so that thou dost learn to fear Jehovah thy God all the days... 28 At the end of three years thou dost bring out all the tithe of thine increase in that year, and hast placed it within thy gates; 29 and come in hath the Levite (for he hath no part and inheritance with thee), and the sojourner, and  the fatherless, and  the widow, who are within thy gates, and they have eaten, and been satisfied, so that Jehovah thy God doth bless thee in all the work of thy hand which thou dost.”                                                                                                          (Dt 14:23-29 abbreviated)


       12 When thou dost complete to tithe all the tithe of thine increase in the third year, the year of the tithe, then thou hast given to the Levite,  to the sojourner, to the fatherless, and  to the widow, and they have eaten within thy gates, and been satisfied, 13 and thou hast said before Jehovah thy God, I have put away the separated thing out of the house, and also have given it to the Levite, and to the sojourner, and to the orphan, and to the widow, according to all Thy command which Thou hast commanded me; I have not passed over from Thy commands, nor have I forgotten.”                                                                                (Dt 26:12-13)

            As we can see, the religious system in the "cruel" Old Testament was highly charitable. They gave 33% (a third) of the assets they received from believers to deeds of charity. In other words, 33% of the religious organization's budget in the Old Testament was dedicated to charity or love towards their neighbor. That is why it hurts to see these people with foolish accusations speak without thinking. They use stereotypes by saying the Old Testament are the Scriptures of harshness, the New Testament are the Scriptures of Love”; under the law there was cruelty, under grace there is love”, bla, bla, bla…

            I would like to know if the sects or religious organizations these blabbers belong to practice the loving law of the Old Testament. Under the law”, under the eye for an eye”, under the harshness”, is where 33% of the money managed by the religion was used for charitable work. My question is under grace”, under the law of love”, in organizations where the primary motto is I want mercy, not sacrifice”, etc., What percentage of their net income is dedicated directly to charity, or love? Those who have 33% or more of their earnings ready to be given to charity; cast the first stone!

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