164: Turning the Other Cheek

One of my favourite biblical exegesis is on the pacifist teachings of Jesus.

In the cultural context of the time, the turning of the cheek (Matthew 5:39), giving the
undershirt (Matthew 5:40), and walking a load a second mile (Matthew 5:41) are interesting ones.

That is, usually a person has backhanded you on the first go at your right cheek . . . offering the left cheek means he has to hit you as an equal, with his palm, not as an inferior.

Giving the undershirt (which then leaves you naked) shames both of you in the culture of the time — again forcing the aggressor to own what he’s done.

My favourite is the walking a second mile . . . Roman soldiers could force people to carry a load for a mile, but they weren’t permitted to enslave them further than that for sherpa duty . . . not giving the load back and continuing on the second mile endangers the soldier to his command . . . I like the idea of the soldier running after the Jesus-freak, begging to get his stuff back so he can carry it himself.

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