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Babies are Babies

by Don Costello  
5/11/2008 / Bible Studies

God's word does not differentiate between babies in the womb and babies outside the womb. Babies are babies and children are children before and after birth. This is perhaps the most important component of the argument.

In the first chapter of Luke's gospel, Luke wrote of the sending of the angel Gabriel to Mary to announce to her that she was chosen by God to miraculously conceive and bring forth the Messiah. During the encounter Gabriel announced to Mary that her cousin Elisabeth had conceived a son and was six months pregnant, a little over 24 weeks gestation. After the angel departed, Mary hurriedly made the four-day trip to Elizabeth's house. As she entered the house she greeted Elisabeth. When Elisabeth heard Mary's greeting, the "babe" in her womb, "leapedfor joy". The Greek word for "babe" in verse 41 and in verse 44 is "brephos" and it means "baby or infants". It is the same Greek word used for the just born Jesus in Luke 2:16. "And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger." It is also the same Greek word used in Luke 18:15 in describing babies that people brought to Jesus for him to bless. It is easy then to glean from this that whether they are in the womb, just born, or days or weeks old, they are babies.

We find the same thing in the Old Testament. In the book of Job Chapter 3, we find Job in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. In Job 3:11 he says, "Why died I not from the womb, why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?" He continues on to verse 16 where he says, "Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light." The Hebrew word for "infant" is "olah" and it means a suckling babe, young child, infant, little one. It is the same Hebrew word used in Isaiah 3:12; "As for my people, children are their oppressors." It is the same word used in Hosea 13:16; "their infants shall be dashed in pieces."

There is another example in Genesis 25:22 describing Rebekah's pregnancy. "And the children struggled within her" Now the "children" this verse is speaking of are Jacob and Esau. The defining point is that they are regarded as children before they are born. The Hebrew word for "children" in that verse is "ben". It is the most commonly used word for children in the Old Testament. It means "a son, a builder of a family name." So we can see from the Old Testament also that Scripture does not differentiate between in the womb or out. They are babies and children.

Many critics of this argument point to an Old Testament passage in Exodus 21:22, 23 to dispute the fact that God sees no difference between children in the womb and out of the womb.

"If men strive and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life.

These critics argue that this passage means if the unborn child is killed, the man responsible pays only what the husband demands. On the other hand, if mischief occurs (i.e. the wife dies) then the punishment is life for life. In reality, "fruit depart" means a premature birth, and "mischief" means a death, either the child's or the woman's.

In the King James Version of this passage, the two words, "from her" are not in the Hebrew text but were added by the translators, so the actual phrase is, "her fruit depart". The New International Version has, "gives birth prematurely." The phrase from the King James Version, "her fruit depart" comes from the Hebrew word, "yatsa", a word used in a great variety of applications. One of those applications is to describe being born or having descendants. In Job 1:21 it is rendered, "naked came I out of my mother's womb". In Genesis 17:6 it is used as, "Kings shall come out of thee". And finally in Genesis 46:26 it is used as, "which came out of his loins". So when "yatsa" is used in this sense it is
used of being born or of being a descendant, not of miscarriage or death, as some claim.

There are at least two Hebrew words that are used for miscarriage, but are not used in the passage in Exodus 21. The first is "shakol" and it means, "lose children, made childless, miscarry." In Exodus 23:26 it is used as "nothing shall cast their young." In Genesis 31:38 it is rendered, "she goats have not cast their young". In Job 21:10 it is rendered, "their cow calveth and not cast her calf". And in Jeremiah 15:7 it is, "I will bereave them of children". The other Hebrew word is "nephel" and it means "something fallen, an abortion, untimely birth". It is rendered "untimely birth" in Job 3:16, Psalm 58:8, and in Ecclesiastes 6:3. Either of these words could have been used if the intent were to convey, "miscarry". Instead a word was used that conveys the idea of a live birth.

This internal evidence shows that Exodus 21:22, 23 is not referring to an incident involving "miscarriage" but rather a live, premature birth. Thus, in the Scriptural record there is no difference between babies in the womb or out of the womb. Babies are babies.

My name is Don Costello. Ever since I received Christ in November of 1976 I have had a passion to study and know God's word.My wife Melissa and I have 5 children.

My e-mail address is

I have a blog located at:

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