Bible: Exodus 20-23


The Decalogue


God spoke all these words: 2 

20:2I, 3  the Lord, am your God, 4  who brought you 5  from the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 6 

20:3You shall have no 7  other gods before me. 8 

20:4You shall not make for yourself a carved image 9  or any likeness 10  of anything 11  that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water below. 12  20:5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, 13  for I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous 14  God, responding to 15  the transgression of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations 16  of those who reject me, 17  20:6 and showing covenant faithfulness 18  to a thousand generations 19  of those who love me and keep my commandments.

20:7You shall not take 20  the name of the Lord your God in vain, 21  for the Lord will not hold guiltless 22  anyone who takes his name in vain.

20:8Remember 23  the Sabbath 24  day to set it apart as holy. 25  20:9 For six days 26  you may labor 27  and do all your work, 28  20:10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; on it 29  you shall not do any work, you, 30  or your son, or your daughter, or your male servant, or your female servant, or your cattle, or the resident foreigner who is in your gates. 31  20:11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

20:12Honor 32  your father and your mother, that you may live a long time 33  in the land 34  the Lord your God is giving to you.

20:13You shall not murder. 35 

20:14You shall not commit adultery. 36 

20:15You shall not steal. 37 

20:16You shall not give 38  false testimony 39  against your neighbor.

20:17You shall not covet 40  your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that belongs to your neighbor.” 41 

20:18 All the people were seeing 42  the thundering and the lightning, and heard 43  the sound of the horn, and saw 44  the mountain smoking – and when 45  the people saw it they trembled with fear 46  and kept their distance. 47  20:19 They said to Moses, “You speak 48  to us and we will listen, but do not let God speak with us, lest we die.” 20:20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, 49  that the fear of him 50  may be before you so that you do not 51  sin.” 20:21 The people kept 52  their distance, but Moses drew near the thick darkness 53  where God was. 54 


The Altar


The Lord said 56  to Moses: “Thus you will tell the Israelites: ‘You yourselves have seen that I have spoken with you from heaven. 20:23 You must not make gods of silver alongside me, 57  nor make gods of gold for yourselves. 58 

20:24You must make for me an altar made of earth, 59  and you will sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, 60  your sheep and your cattle. In every place 61  where I cause my name to be honored 62  I will come to you and I will bless you. 20:25 If you make me an altar of stone, you must not build it 63  of stones shaped with tools, 64  for if you use your tool on it you have defiled it. 65  20:26 And you must not go up by steps to my altar, so that your nakedness is not exposed.’ 66 


The Decisions


“These are the decisions that you will set before them:


Hebrew Servants


“If you buy 69  a Hebrew servant, 70  he is to serve you for six years, but in the seventh year he will go out free 71  without paying anything. 72  21:3 If he came 73  in by himself 74  he will go out by himself; if he had 75  a wife when he came in, then his wife will go out with him. 21:4 If his master gave 76  him a wife, and she bore sons or daughters, the wife and the children will belong to her master, and he will go out by himself. 21:5 But if the servant should declare, 77  ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out 78  free,’ 21:6 then his master must bring him to the judges, 79  and he will bring him to the door or the doorposts, and his master will pierce his ear with an awl, and he shall serve him forever. 80 

21:7If a man sells his daughter 81  as a female servant, 82  she will not go out as the male servants do. 21:8 If she does not please 83  her master, who has designated her 84  for himself, then he must let her be redeemed. 85  He has no right 86  to sell her to a foreign nation, because he has dealt deceitfully 87  with her. 21:9 If he designated her for his son, then he will deal with her according to the customary rights 88  of daughters. 21:10 If he takes another wife, 89  he must not diminish the first one’s food, 90  her clothing, or her marital rights. 91  21:11 If he does not provide her with these three things, then she will go out free, without paying money. 92 


Personal Injuries


“Whoever strikes someone 94  so that he dies 95  must surely be put to death. 96  21:13 But if he does not do it with premeditation, 97  but it happens by accident, 98  then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee. 21:14 But if a man willfully attacks his neighbor to kill him cunningly, 99  you will take him even from my altar that he may die.

21:15Whoever strikes 100  his father or his mother must surely be put to death.

21:16Whoever kidnaps someone 101  and sells him, 102  or is caught still holding him, 103  must surely be put to death.

21:17Whoever treats his father or his mother disgracefully 104  must surely be put to death.

21:18If men fight, and one strikes his neighbor with a stone or with his fist and he does not die, but must remain in bed, 105  21:19 and then 106  if he gets up and walks about 107  outside on his staff, then the one who struck him is innocent, except he must pay 108  for the injured person’s 109  loss of time 110  and see to it that he is fully healed.

21:20If a man strikes his male servant or his female servant with a staff so that he or she 111  dies as a result of the blow, 112  he will surely be punished. 113  21:21 However, if the injured servant 114  survives one or two days, the owner 115  will not be punished, for he has suffered the loss. 116 

21:22If men fight and hit a pregnant woman and her child is born prematurely, 117  but there is no serious injury, he will surely be punished in accordance with what the woman’s husband demands of him, and he will pay what the court decides. 118  21:23 But if there is serious injury, then you will give a life for a life, 21:24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 21:25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. 119 

21:26If a man strikes the eye of his male servant or his female servant so that he destroys it, 120  he will let the servant 121  go free 122  as compensation for the eye. 21:27 If he knocks out the tooth of his male servant or his female servant, he will let the servant 123  go free as compensation for the tooth.


Laws about Animals


“If an ox 125  gores a man or a woman so that either dies, 126  then the ox must surely 127  be stoned and its flesh must not be eaten, but the owner of the ox will be acquitted. 21:29 But if the ox had the habit of goring, and its owner was warned, 128  and he did not take the necessary precautions, 129  and then it killed a man or a woman, the ox must be stoned and the man must be put to death. 21:30 If a ransom is set for him, 130  then he must pay the redemption for his life according to whatever amount was set for him. 21:31 If the ox 131  gores a son or a daughter, the owner 132  will be dealt with according to this rule. 133  21:32 If the ox gores a male servant or a female servant, the owner 134  must pay thirty shekels of silver, 135  and the ox must be stoned. 136 

21:33If a man opens a pit or if a man digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, 21:34 the owner of the pit must repay 137  the loss. He must give money 138  to its owner, and the dead animal 139  will become his. 21:35 If the ox of one man injures the ox of his neighbor so that it dies, then they will sell the live ox and divide its proceeds, 140  and they will also divide the dead ox. 141  21:36 Or if it is known that the ox had the habit of goring, and its owner did not take the necessary precautions, he must surely pay 142  ox for ox, and the dead animal will become his. 143 


Laws about Property


145  “If a man steals an ox or a sheep and kills it or sells it, he must pay back 146  five head of cattle for the ox, and four sheep for the one sheep. 147 

22:2If a thief is caught 148  breaking in 149  and is struck so that he dies, there will be no blood guilt for him. 150  22:3 If the sun has risen on him, then there is blood guilt for him. A thief 151  must surely make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he will be sold for his theft. 22:4 If the stolen item should in fact be found 152  alive in his possession, 153  whether it be an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he must pay back double. 154 

22:5If a man grazes 155  his livestock 156  in a field or a vineyard, and he lets the livestock loose and they graze in the field of another man, he must make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard.

22:6If a fire breaks out and spreads 157  to thorn bushes, 158  so that stacked grain or standing grain or the whole field is consumed, the one who started 159  the fire must surely make restitution.

22:7If a man gives his neighbor money or articles 160  for safekeeping, 161  and it is stolen from the man’s house, if the thief is caught, 162  he must repay double. 22:8 If the thief is not caught, 163  then the owner of the house will be brought before the judges 164  to see 165  whether he has laid 166  his hand on his neighbor’s goods. 22:9 In all cases of illegal possessions, 167  whether for an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any kind of lost item, about which someone says ‘This belongs to me,’ 168  the matter of the two of them will come before the judges, 169  and the one whom 170  the judges declare guilty 171  must repay double to his neighbor. 22:10 If a man gives his neighbor a donkey or an ox or a sheep or any beast to keep, and it dies or is hurt 172  or is carried away 173  without anyone seeing it, 174  22:11 then there will be an oath to the Lord 175  between the two of them, that he has not laid his hand on his neighbor’s goods, and its owner will accept this, and he will not have to pay. 22:12 But if it was stolen 176  from him, 177  he will pay its owner. 22:13 If it is torn in pieces, then he will bring it for evidence, 178  and he will not have to pay for what was torn.

22:14If a man borrows an animal 179  from his neighbor, and it is hurt or dies when its owner was not with it, the man who borrowed it 180  will surely pay. 22:15 If its owner was with it, he will not have to pay; if it was hired, what was paid for the hire covers it. 181 


Moral and Ceremonial Laws


“If a man seduces a virgin 183  who is not engaged 184  and has sexual relations with her, he must surely endow 185  her to be his wife. 22:17 If her father refuses to give her to him, he must pay money for the bride price of virgins.

22:18You must not allow a sorceress to live. 186 

22:19Whoever has sexual relations 187  with a beast must surely be put to death.

22:20Whoever sacrifices to a god other than the Lord 188  alone must be utterly destroyed. 189 

22:21You must not wrong 190  a foreigner 191  nor oppress him, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.

22:22You must not afflict 192  any widow or orphan. 22:23 If you afflict them 193  in any way 194  and they cry to me, I will surely hear 195  their cry, 22:24 and my anger will burn and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children will be fatherless. 196 

22:25If you lend money to any of 197  my people who are needy among you, do not be like a moneylender 198  to him; do not charge 199  him interest. 200  22:26 If you do take 201  the garment of your neighbor in pledge, you must return it to him by the time the sun goes down, 202  22:27 for it is his only covering – it is his garment for his body. 203  What else can he sleep in? 204  And 205  when he cries out to me, I will hear, for I am gracious.

22:28You must not blaspheme 206  God 207  or curse the ruler of your people.

22:29Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats. 208  You must give me the firstborn of your sons. 22:30 You must also do this for your oxen and for your sheep; seven days they may remain with their mothers, but give them to me on the eighth day.

22:31You will be holy 209  people to me; you must not eat any meat torn by animals in the field. 210  You must throw it to the dogs.




“You must not give 212  a false report. 213  Do not make common cause 214  with the wicked 215  to be a malicious 216  witness.

23:2You must not follow a crowd 217  in doing evil things; 218  in a lawsuit you must not offer testimony that agrees with a crowd so as to pervert justice, 219  23:3 and you must not show partiality 220  to a poor man in his lawsuit.

23:4If you encounter 221  your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, you must by all means return 222  it to him. 23:5 If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen under its load, you must not ignore him, 223  but be sure to help 224  him with it. 225 

23:6You must not turn away justice for your poor people in their lawsuits. 23:7 Keep your distance 226  from a false charge 227  – do not kill the innocent and the righteous, 228  for I will not justify the wicked. 229 

23:8You must not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see 230  and subverts the words of the righteous.

23:9You must not oppress 231  a foreigner, since you know the life 232  of a foreigner, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.


Sabbaths and Feasts


“For six years 234  you are to sow your land and gather in its produce. 23:11 But in the seventh year 235  you must let it lie fallow and leave it alone so that the poor of your people may eat, and what they leave any animal in the field 236  may eat; you must do likewise with your vineyard and your olive grove. 23:12 For six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you must cease, in order that your ox and your donkey may rest and that your female servant’s son and any hired help 237  may refresh themselves. 238 

23:13Pay attention to do 239  everything I have told you, and do not even mention 240  the names of other gods – do not let them be heard on your lips. 241 

23:14Three times 242  in the year you must make a pilgrim feast 243  to me. 23:15 You are to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; seven days 244  you must eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you, at the appointed time of the month of Abib, for at that time 245  you came out of Egypt. No one may appear before 246  me empty-handed.

23:16You are also to observe 247  the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors that you have sown in the field, and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year 248  when you have gathered in 249  your harvest 250  out of the field. 23:17 At 251  three times in the year all your males will appear before the Lord God. 252 

23:18You must not offer 253  the blood of my sacrifice with bread containing yeast; the fat of my festal sacrifice must not remain until morning. 254  23:19 The first of the firstfruits of your soil you must bring to the house of the Lord your God.

You must not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk. 255 


The Angel of the Presence


“I am going to send 257  an angel 258  before you to protect you as you journey 259  and to bring you into the place that I have prepared. 260  23:21 Take heed because of him, and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name 261  is in him. 23:22 But if you diligently obey him 262  and do all that I command, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will be an adversary to your adversaries. 23:23 For my angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I will destroy them completely. 263 

23:24You must not bow down to their gods; you must not serve them or do according to their practices. Instead you must completely overthrow them and smash their standing stones 264  to pieces. 265  23:25 You must serve 266  the Lord your God, and he 267  will bless your bread and your water, 268  and I will remove sickness from your midst. 23:26 No woman will miscarry her young 269  or be barren in your land. I will fulfill 270  the number of your days.

23:27I will send my terror 271  before you, and I will destroy 272  all the people whom you encounter; I will make all your enemies turn their backs 273  to you. 23:28 I will send 274  hornets before you that will drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite before you. 23:29 I will not drive them out before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild animals 275  multiply against you. 23:30 Little by little 276  I will drive them out before you, until you become fruitful and inherit the land. 23:31 I will set 277  your boundaries from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River, 278  for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you.

23:32You must make no covenant with them or with their gods. 23:33 They must not live in your land, lest they make you sin against me, for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare 279  to you.”

NET Bible Study Environment