And if thy right hand offend thee
Or "cause thee to offend"; that is, is the means of ensnaring thine heart; and of drawing thee into either mental, or actual adultery; for, as before, all unchaste looks, so here, all unchaste touches, embraces are condemned. As adultery may be committed in the heart, and by the eye, so with the hand:
``says R. Eliezer F1 what is the meaning of that Scripture, "your hands are full of blood", ( Isaiah 1:15 ) ? It is replied, (dyb Mypanmh wla) , "these are they, that commit adultery with the hand". It is a tradition of the house of R. Ishmael, that the sense of that command, "thou shalt not commit adultery", is, there shall be none that commits adultery in thee, whether "with the hand", or "with the foot".''Like orders are given as before,
cut it off, and cast it from thee;
as a man would choose to do, or have it done for him, when such a part of the body is mortified, and endangers all the rest. The Jews enjoined cutting off of the hand, on several accounts; if in a morning, before a man had washed his hands, he put his hand to his eye, nose, mouth, ear (Uuqyt) , it was to be "cut off" F2; particularly, the handling of the "membrum virile", was punishable with cutting off of the hand.
``Says R. F3 Tarphon, if the hand is moved to the privy parts, (wdy Uuqt) , "let his hand be cut off to his navel".''That is, that it may reach no further; for below that part of the body the hand might not be put F4; lest unclean thoughts, and desires, should be excited. In the above F5 place it is added,
``what if a thorn should be in his belly, must he not take it away? It is replied, no: it is further asked, must not his belly be ripped up then? It is answered, it is better that his belly be ripped up, (txv rabl dry law) , "than that he should go down to the pit of corruption."''A way of speaking, much like what our Lord here uses; and to the above orders and canons, he may be very well thought to allude: but he is not to be understood literally, as enjoining the cutting off of the right hand, as they did; but of men's refraining from all such impure practices, either with themselves, or women, which are of a defiling nature; and endanger the salvation of them, body and soul; the same reason is given as before.
F1 T. Bab. Nidda, fol. 13. 2. Vid. Maimon. Issure Bia, c. 21. sect. 18.
F2 T. Bab. Sabbat. fol. 108. 2. Massechet Callah, fol. 17. 1.
F3 T. Bab. Nidda, fol. 13. 2.
F4 Maimon. lssure Bia, c. 21. sect. 23.
F5 T. Bab. Nidda, fol. 13. 2.