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Retaliation, law of, or lex talionis

(Ex. 21:23–25; Lev. 24:18–21; Deut. 19:21.) The Mosaic law aimed at making the punishment an appropriate equivalent to the offence committed. Wrongdoing must not go unpunished; on the other hand, however, the punishment must not be vindictive or excessive. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:38–42), the Lord goes further, and urges us, so far as private wrongs to ourselves are concerned, not to retaliate at all (Rom. 12:17, 19). See also Revenge.