1Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them.
2If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.
3If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him.
4If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself.
5And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free:
6Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.
7And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.
8If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.
9And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters.
10If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.
11And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.
12He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.
13And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee.
14But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.
15And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.
16And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.
17And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.
18And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed:
19If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed.
20And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.
21Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.
22If 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 upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
23And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
24Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
25Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
26And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye's sake.
27And if he smite out his manservant's tooth, or his maidservant's tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth's sake.
28If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit.
29But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death.
30If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him.
31Whether he have gored a son, or have gored a daughter, according to this judgment shall it be done unto him.
32If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.
33And if a man shall open a pit, or if a man shall dig a pit, and not cover it, and an ox or an ass fall therein;
34The owner of the pit shall make it good, and give money unto the owner of them; and the dead beast shall be his.
35And if one man's ox hurt another's, that he die; then they shall sell the live ox, and divide the money of it; and the dead ox also they shall divide.
36Or if it be known that the ox hath used to push in time past, and his owner hath not kept him in; he shall surely pay ox for ox; and the dead shall be his own.
Today's Scripture Meaning
Laws respecting servants. (1-11) Judicial laws. (12-21) Judicial laws. (22-36)
Verses 1-11: The laws in this chapter relate to the fifth and sixth commandments; and though they differ from our times and customs, nor are they binding on us, yet they explain the moral law, and the rules of natural justice. The servant, in the state of servitude, was an emblem of that state of bondage to sin, Satan, and the law, which man is brought into by robbing God of his glory, by the transgression of his precepts. Likewise in being made free, he was an emblem of that liberty wherewith Christ, the Son of God, makes free from bondage his people, who are free indeed; and made so freely, without money and without price, of free grace.
Verses 12-21: God, who by his providence gives and maintains life, by his law protects it. A wilful murderer shall be taken even from God's altar. But God provided cities of refuge to protect those whose unhappiness it was, and not their fault, to cause the death of another; for such as by accident, when a man is doing a lawful act, without intent of hurt, happens to kill another. Let children hear the sentence of God's word upon the ungrateful and disobedient; and remember that God will certainly requite it, if they have ever cursed their parents, even in their hearts, or have lifted up their hands against them, except they repent, and flee for refuge to the Saviour. And let parents hence learn to be very careful in training up their children, setting them a good example, especially in the government of their passions, and in praying for them; taking heed not to provoke them to wrath. Through poverty the Israelites sometimes sold themselves or their children; magistrates sold some persons for their crimes, and creditors were in some cases allowed to sell their debtors who could not pay. But "man-stealing," the object of which is to force another into slavery, is ranked in the New Testament with the greatest crimes. Care is here taken, that satisfaction be made for hurt done to a person, though death do not follow. The gospel teaches masters to forbear, and to moderate threatenings, (Eph 6:9), considering with Job, What shall I do, when God riseth up? (Job 31:13,14).
Verses 22-36: The cases here mentioned give rules of justice then, and still in use, for deciding similar matters. We are taught by these laws, that we must be very careful to do no wrong, either directly or indirectly. If we have done wrong
Today's Scripture Application
Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we Continue in the book of Exodus with Chapter 21 and in today's text we see the Judaical laws that involve servants and masters in this day. The law again was given to show right and wrong with the ultimate goal to show our sinful nature and our need for a Savior. In the law it shows the judgement of God and how it calls for a eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a hand for a hand. Simply put, a true line and definition of right and wrong. God also shows his mercy with cities of refuge where a person could escape the judgement they deserved from breaking the law. In making application we see that God judges sin and provides a way of escape though the refuge of Jesus-Christ. Today people believe that God wont judge their sin and everyone goes to Heaven but our text today, and in the pages to come, show that God will judge sin, so we too need to run to to the refuge, which is Jesus-Christ our Lord. How about you? Do you believe that God judges your sin? Let us learn from our text and run to the city of refuge which is Jesus-Christ.
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Sincerely, Dr. David Burnette
Director, The United States Bible Society, Inc.