XXXV. (195) If therefore any one has ever plotted against this most excellent and most dominant of all the outward senses, namely sight, so as ever to have struck out the eye of a free man, let him suffer the same infliction himself, but not so if he have only struck out the eye of a slave; not because he is entitled to pardon, or because the injury which he has done is less, but because the man who has been injured will have a still worse master if he has been mutilated in retaliation, since he will for ever bear a grudge against him for the calamity which has fallen upon him, and will revenge himself on him every day as an irreconcileable enemy by harsh commands beyond his power to perform, by which the slave will be so oppressed that he will be ready to die. (196) Therefore the law has provided that the man who has thus done injury to his slave shall not be allowed to escape free, and yet has not commanded that the man who has already suffered the loss of his eye shall be ill-treated still further, enjoining that if any one strikes out the eye of his servant he shall without hesitation grant him his freedom; (197) for thus he will suffer a double punishment for the actions which he has committed, in being deprived of the value of his servant and also of his services, and thirdly, which is worse than either of the things already mentioned, in being compelled to do good to his enemy in the most important matters, whom very likely he wished to be able to ill-treat for ever. And the slave has a double consolation for the evils which he has been subjected to in being not only emancipated, but also in having escaped a cruel and inhuman master.
XXXVI. (198) The law also commands that if any one strike out the tooth of a slave he shall bestow his freedom on the slave; why is this? because life is a thing of great value, and because nature has made the teeth the instruments of life, as being those by which the food is eaten. And of the teeth some are fitted for eating meat and all other eatable food, and on that account are called incisors, or cutting teeth; others are called molar teeth from their still further grinding and smoothing what has been cut by the incisors; (199) on which account the Creator and Father of the universe, who is not accustomed to make anything which is not appointed for some particular use, did not do with the teeth as he did with every other part of the body, and make them at once, at the first creation of the man, considering that as while an infant he was only intended to be fed upon milk they would be a superfluous burden in his way, and would be a severe injury to the breasts, filled as they are at that time with springs of milk, from which moist food is derived, as they would in that case be bitten by the child while sucking the milk. (200) Therefore, having waited for a suitable season (and that is when the child is weaned), he then causes the infant to put forth the teeth which he had prepared for it before, as the most perfect food now supplied to it requires the organs above-mentioned now that the child rejects the food of milk. (201) If therefore any one, yielding to an insolent disposition, strikes out the tooth of his servant, that organ which is the minister and provider of those most necessary things, food and life, he shall emancipate him whom he has injured, because by the evil which he inflicted on him he has deprived him of the service and use of his tooth. “Is then,” some one will say, “a tooth of equal value with an eye?” (202) “Each,” I would reply, “is of equal value for the purposes for which they were given, the eye with reference to the objects of sight, the teeth with reference to those which are eatable.” But if any one were to desire to institute a comparison, he would find that the eye is entitled to the highest respect among all the parts of the body, inasmuch as being occupied in the contemplation of the most glorious thing in the whole world, namely the heaven; and that the tooth is useful as being the masticator of food, which is the most useful thing as contributing to life. And he who strikes out a man’s eye does not hinder him from living, but a most miserable death awaits the man who has all his teeth knocked out. (203) And if any one meditates inflicting injury in these parts on his servants, let him know that he is causing them an artificial famine in the midst of plenty and abundance; for what advantage is it to a man that there should be an abundance of food, if the instruments by which he may be enabled to make use of it are taken from him and lost, through the agency of his cruel, and pitiless, and inhuman master? (204) It is for this reason that in another passage the lawgiver forbids creditors to exact from their debtors a molar tooth or a grinder as a pledge, giving as a reason that the person who does so is taking a man’s life in pledge; for he who deprives a man of the instruments of living is proceeding towards murder, entertaining the idea of plotting even against life. (205) And the law has taken such exceeding care that no one shall ever be the cause of death to another, that it does not look upon those who have even touched a dead body, which has met with a natural death, as pure and clean, until they have washed and purified themselves with sprinklings and ablutions; and even after they are perfectly clean it does not permit them to go into the temple within seven days, enjoining them to use purifying ceremonies on the third and seventh day. (206) And again, in the case of persons who have gone into the house in which any one has died, the law enjoins that no one shall touch them until they have both washed their bodies and also the garments in which they were clothed, and, in a word, it looks upon all the furniture and all the vessels, and everything which is in the house, as unclean and polluted; (207) for the soul of a man is a valuable thing, and when that has quitted its habitation, and passed to another place, everything that is left behind by it is polluted as being deprived of the divine image, since the human mind is made as a copy of the mind of God, having been created after the archetypal model, the most sublime reasoning. (208) And the law says, “Let everything which a man that is unclean has touched be also unclean as being polluted by a participation in that which is unclean.” And this sacred injunction appears to have a wide operation, not being limited to the body alone, but proceeding as it would seem also to investigate the dispositions of the soul, (209) for the unjust and impious man is peculiarly unclean, being one who has no respect for either human or divine things, but who throws everything into disorder and confusion by the immoderate vehemence of his passions, and by the extravagance of his wickedness, so that everything which he touches becomes faulty, having its nature changed by the wickedness of him who has taken them in hand. For in like manner the actions of the good are, on the contrary, all praiseworthy, being made better by the energies of those who apply themselves to them, since in some degree what is done resembles in its character the person who does it.