22 “If men fight and hurt a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely, and yet no harm follows, he shall be surely fined as much as the woman’s husband demands and the judges allow. 23 But if any harm follows, then you must take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burning for burning, wound for wound, and bruise for bruise. Exodus 21:22-25WEB
This passage contains a positive command, a statute, directed toward Israel: "If men fight and hurt a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely, and yet no harm follows, he shall be surely fined as much as the woman's husband demands and the judges allow. But if any harm follows, then you must take life for life, eye for eye, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, bruise for bruise."
This command is part of the Civil/Judicial Law.
This law fits well with laws relating to Human Judicial Response.
This law contributes to an understanding of Murder, Capital Punishment, Lex talionis (eye for an eye), and Created Order (for its implications on the value of human life, what makes a human, etc, inasmuch as it pertains to a child in the womb).
The command is understood to have abiding validity, and to impose an obligation on modern government.
Notes on Interpretation/Application
This verse plays a significant role in the argument that the Bible values life in and out of the womb equally, because it appears to apply the lex talionis and the death penalty for harm to people inside the womb, which is the same penalty applied for harm to people outside the womb. For this reason, people who hope to make the case that the Bible supports abortion or does not support the value of human life inside the womb are motivated to interpret this verse in a way suitable to their ideals. The argument often hinges on careful consideration for a few key clauses in the passage.
"So that she gives birth prematurely"
Other translations render this phrase, "so that she miscarries". The wording here is used by pro-abortion advocates to argue that this necessarily describes a deceased child, with the implication that there should be no penalty for harm done to a child in the womb, and so abortion would therefore be acceptable as far as this verse is concerned.
The argument by pro-abortion advocates here fails on analysis of the Hebrew word which is translated "miscarriage". The Hebrew word here is "yatsa'", and it simply means "come out" or "depart". It is notably used to describe Noah exiting the ark (Genesis 8:16) and the live birth of Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:25-26). The word does not in any way imply a still birth.
"if no harm follows...if there is harm"
The passage does not specify whether or not "harm" applies directly to the woman or to the child, but plainly the word is being applied to one or both of them, since the woman received the blow and the child was affected. This nuance is used by pro-abortion advocates to argue that the word harm must only apply to the mother.
The argument by pro-abortion advocates here fails on consideration of the case at hand, and the reasons for taking one interpretation over another. For starters, the lex talions and "life for life" is already applied to adults in multiple passages elsewhere (see respective topics). This specific passage would be redundant except that it specifies that the victim was a pregnant woman who has given birth as a result of the incident. If the passage didn't exist, and any harm was done to the woman, the other passages prescribing the death penalty for murder and the lex talionis for harm would suffice to affect justice on behalf of the injured woman. The only reason, therefore, that this passage could exist with such (otherwise random and meaningless) detail is to make clear that the protection is offered also to the child.
Furthermore, the argument on this point serves to illustrate a significant hermeneutic issue. Given the surrounding detail, the only reason for a pro-abortion advocate to draw on this perceived ambiguity (although there is really no ambiguity) is because that person has already decided what they wish the text to say, prior to reading the text. It is an inappropriately motivated interpretation.