Exodus 21-23 (WEB)
Highlights from this Passage
- Temporal and civil ordinances appointed by God touching servitude, murders, and wrongs.
- Observing these laws does not justify anyone, but they are given to restrain our corrupt nature.
“Now these are the ordinances which you shall set before them:
“If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free without paying anything. If he comes in by himself, he shall go out by himself. If he is married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. But if the servant shall plainly say, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I will not go out free;’ then his master shall bring him to God, and shall bring him to the door or to the doorpost, and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him forever.
“If a man sells his daughter to be a female servant, she shall not go out as the male servants do. If she doesn’t please her master, who has married her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt deceitfully with her. If he marries her to his son, he shall deal with her as a daughter. If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marital rights. If he doesn’t do these three things for her, she may go free without paying any money.
“One who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death, but not if it is unintentional, but God allows it to happen; then I will appoint you a place where he shall flee. If a man schemes and comes presumptuously on his neighbor to kill him, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.
“Anyone who attacks his father or his mother shall be surely put to death.
“Anyone who kidnaps someone and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.
“Anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.
“If men quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone, or with his fist, and he doesn’t die, but is confined to bed; if he rises again and walks around with his staff, then he who struck him shall be cleared; only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall provide for his healing until he is thoroughly healed.
“If a man strikes his servant or his maid with a rod, and he dies under his hand, the man shall surely be punished. Notwithstanding, if his servant gets up after a day or two, he shall not be punished, for the servant is his property.
“If men fight and hurt a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely, and yet no harm follows, he shall be surely fined as much as the woman’s husband demands and the judges allow. But if any harm follows, then you must take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, and bruise for bruise.
“If a man strikes his servant’s eye, or his maid’s eye, and destroys it, he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake. If he strikes out his male servant’s tooth, or his female servant’s tooth, he shall let the servant go free for his tooth’s sake.
“If a bull gores a man or a woman to death, the bull shall surely be stoned, and its meat shall not be eaten; but the owner of the bull shall not be held responsible. But if the bull had a habit of goring in the past, and this has been testified to its owner, and he has not kept it in, but it has killed a man or a woman, the bull shall be stoned, and its owner shall also be put to death. If a ransom is imposed on him, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is imposed. Whether it has gored a son or has gored a daughter, according to this judgment it shall be done to him. If the bull gores a male servant or a female servant, thirty shekels of silver shall be given to their master, and the ox shall be stoned.
“If a man opens a pit, or if a man digs a pit and doesn’t cover it, and a bull or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit shall make it good. He shall give money to its owner, and the dead animal shall be his.
“If one man’s bull injures another’s, so that it dies, then they shall sell the live bull, and divide its price; and they shall also divide the dead animal. Or if it is known that the bull was in the habit of goring in the past, and its owner has not kept it in, he shall surely pay bull for bull, and the dead animal shall be his own.
“If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. If the thief is found breaking in, and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt of bloodshed for him. If the sun has risen on him, he is guilty of bloodshed. He shall make restitution. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. If the stolen property is found in his hand alive, whether it is ox, donkey, or sheep, he shall pay double.
“If a man causes a field or vineyard to be eaten by letting his animal loose, and it grazes in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field, and from the best of his own vineyard.
“If fire breaks out, and catches in thorns so that the shocks of grain, or the standing grain, or the field are consumed; he who kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.
“If a man delivers to his neighbor money or stuff to keep, and it is stolen out of the man’s house, if the thief is found, he shall pay double. If the thief isn’t found, then the master of the house shall come near to God, to find out whether or not he has put his hand on his neighbor’s goods. For every matter of trespass, whether it is for ox, for donkey, for sheep, for clothing, or for any kind of lost thing, about which one says, ‘This is mine,’ the cause of both parties shall come before God. He whom God condemns shall pay double to his neighbor.
“If a man delivers to his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep, and it dies or is injured, or driven away, no man seeing it; the oath of Yahweh shall be between them both, he has not put his hand on his neighbor’s goods; and its owner shall accept it, and he shall not make restitution. But if it is stolen from him, the one who stole shall make restitution to its owner. If it is torn in pieces, let him bring it for evidence. He shall not make good that which was torn.
“If a man borrows anything of his neighbor’s, and it is injured, or dies, its owner not being with it, he shall surely make restitution. If its owner is with it, he shall not make it good. If it is a leased thing, it came for its lease.
“If a man entices a virgin who isn’t pledged to be married, and lies with her, he shall surely pay a dowry for her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.
“You shall not allow a sorceress to live.
“Whoever has sex with an animal shall surely be put to death.
“He who sacrifices to any god, except to Yahweh only, shall be utterly destroyed.
“You shall not wrong an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
“You shall not take advantage of any widow or fatherless child. If you take advantage of them at all, and they cry at all to me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath will grow hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.
“If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be to him as a creditor. You shall not charge him interest. If you take your neighbor’s garment as collateral, you shall restore it to him before the sun goes down, for that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What would he sleep in? It will happen, when he cries to me, that I will hear, for I am gracious.
“You shall not blaspheme God, nor curse a ruler of your people.
“You shall not delay to offer from your harvest and from the outflow of your presses.
“You shall give the firstborn of your sons to me. You shall do likewise with your cattle and with your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days, then on the eighth day you shall give it to me.
“You shall be holy men to me, therefore you shall not eat any meat that is torn by animals in the field. You shall cast it to the dogs.
“You shall not spread a false report. Don’t join your hand with the wicked to be a malicious witness.
“You shall not follow a crowd to do evil. You shall not testify in court to side with a multitude to pervert justice. You shall not favor a poor man in his cause.
“If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. If you see the donkey of him who hates you fallen down under his burden, don’t leave him. You shall surely help him with it.
“You shall not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits.
“Keep far from a false charge, and don’t kill the innocent and righteous; for I will not justify the wicked.
“You shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds those who have sight and perverts the words of the righteous.
“You shall not oppress an alien, for you know the heart of an alien, since you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
“For six years you shall sow your land, and shall gather in its increase, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the animal of the field shall eat. In the same way, you shall deal with your vineyard and with your olive grove.
“Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant, and the alien may be refreshed.
“Be careful to do all things that I have said to you; and don’t invoke the name of other gods or even let them be heard out of your mouth.
“You shall observe a feast to me three times a year. You shall observe the feast of unleavened bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib (for in it you came out of Egypt), and no one shall appear before me empty. And the feast of harvest, the first fruits of your labors, which you sow in the field; and the feast of ingathering, at the end of the year, when you gather in your labors out of the field. Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord Yahweh.
“You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread. The fat of my feast shall not remain all night until the morning.
You shall bring the first of the first fruits of your ground into the house of Yahweh your God.
“You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.
“Behold, I send an angel before you, to keep you by the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Pay attention to him, and listen to his voice. Don’t provoke him, for he will not pardon your disobedience, for my name is in him. But if you indeed listen to his voice, and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and an adversary to your adversaries. For my angel shall go before you, and bring you in to the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Canaanite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite; and I will cut them off. You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor follow their practices, but you shall utterly overthrow them and demolish their pillars. You shall serve Yahweh your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you. No one will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will fulfill the number of your days. I will send my terror before you, and will confuse all the people to whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. I will send the hornet before you, which will drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate, and the animals of the field multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and inherit the land. I will set your border from the Red Sea even to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me, for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”