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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Tooth

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It was ordered by the law of retaliation, that they should give tooth for tooth, Exodus 21:24 . The opinion that it is every man's right and duty to do himself justice, and to revenge his own injuries, is by no means eradicated from among the Afghans, a people of India, to the southward of Cashmere, and according to a paper in the Asiatic Researches, supposed to be descended from the Jews; and the right of society, even to restrain the reasonable passions of individuals, and to take the redress of wrongs and the punishment of crimes into its own hands, is still very imperfectly understood: or, if it is understood, is seldom present to the thoughts of the people; for although, in most parts of their country, justice might now be obtained by other means, and though private revenge is every where preached against by the mollahs, priests, and forbidden by the government, yet it is still lawful, and even honourable in the eyes of the people, to seek that mode of redress. The injured party is considered to be entitled to strict retaliation on the aggressor. If the offender be out of his power, he may wreak his vengeance on a relation, and, in some cases, on any man in the tribe. If no opportunity of exercising this right occurs, he may defer his revenge for years; but it is disgraceful to neglect or abandon it entirely; and it is incumbent on his relations, and sometimes on his tribe, to assist him in his retaliation. To gnash the teeth is a token of sorrow, rage, despair, Psalms 35:16 , &c. God breaks the teeth of the wicked, Psalms 3:7 . Cleanness of teeth denotes famine, Amos 4:6 . The wicked complain, that the "fathers have eaten sour grapes, and their children's teeth are set on edge," Ezekiel 18:2 , to signify, that the children have suffered for their transgressions.


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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Tooth'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/wtd/t/tooth.html. 1831-2.

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