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We are told in this verse about the case in which a wife who, in helping her husband fend off an attacker, seizes the attacker by the genitals. The verse tells the husband that he must cut off her hand. Is this some kind of bizarre ancient joke or parody? Was this actually done?

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Jewish law interprets this as an enjoineder against using undue force in a confrontation. If the action were justified, there'd be no punishment.

In addition, the Talmud considers 'cutting off the hand' as indicating the payment of a fine--one's hand seen as figuratively as the recipient of (financial) gain.

In Jewish penal law there may be a death penalty but there is no mutilation of bodies/ hacking off limbs etc

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