Bible: Exodus 21-23


The Decisions


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


Hebrew Servants


“If you buy 3  a Hebrew servant, 4  he is to serve you for six years, but in the seventh year he will go out free 5  without paying anything. 6  21:3 If he came 7  in by himself 8  he will go out by himself; if he had 9  a wife when he came in, then his wife will go out with him. 21:4 If his master gave 10  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, 11  ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out 12  free,’ 21:6 then his master must bring him to the judges, 13  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. 14 

21:7If a man sells his daughter 15  as a female servant, 16  she will not go out as the male servants do. 21:8 If she does not please 17  her master, who has designated her 18  for himself, then he must let her be redeemed. 19  He has no right 20  to sell her to a foreign nation, because he has dealt deceitfully 21  with her. 21:9 If he designated her for his son, then he will deal with her according to the customary rights 22  of daughters. 21:10 If he takes another wife, 23  he must not diminish the first one’s food, 24  her clothing, or her marital rights. 25  21:11 If he does not provide her with these three things, then she will go out free, without paying money. 26 


Personal Injuries


“Whoever strikes someone 28  so that he dies 29  must surely be put to death. 30  21:13 But if he does not do it with premeditation, 31  but it happens by accident, 32  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, 33  you will take him even from my altar that he may die.

21:15Whoever strikes 34  his father or his mother must surely be put to death.

21:16Whoever kidnaps someone 35  and sells him, 36  or is caught still holding him, 37  must surely be put to death.

21:17Whoever treats his father or his mother disgracefully 38  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, 39  21:19 and then 40  if he gets up and walks about 41  outside on his staff, then the one who struck him is innocent, except he must pay 42  for the injured person’s 43  loss of time 44  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 45  dies as a result of the blow, 46  he will surely be punished. 47  21:21 However, if the injured servant 48  survives one or two days, the owner 49  will not be punished, for he has suffered the loss. 50 

21:22If men fight and hit a pregnant woman and her child is born prematurely, 51  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. 52  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. 53 

21:26If a man strikes the eye of his male servant or his female servant so that he destroys it, 54  he will let the servant 55  go free 56  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 57  go free as compensation for the tooth.


Laws about Animals


“If an ox 59  gores a man or a woman so that either dies, 60  then the ox must surely 61  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, 62  and he did not take the necessary precautions, 63  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, 64  then he must pay the redemption for his life according to whatever amount was set for him. 21:31 If the ox 65  gores a son or a daughter, the owner 66  will be dealt with according to this rule. 67  21:32 If the ox gores a male servant or a female servant, the owner 68  must pay thirty shekels of silver, 69  and the ox must be stoned. 70 

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 71  the loss. He must give money 72  to its owner, and the dead animal 73  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, 74  and they will also divide the dead ox. 75  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 76  ox for ox, and the dead animal will become his. 77 


Laws about Property


79  “If a man steals an ox or a sheep and kills it or sells it, he must pay back 80  five head of cattle for the ox, and four sheep for the one sheep. 81 

22:2If a thief is caught 82  breaking in 83  and is struck so that he dies, there will be no blood guilt for him. 84  22:3 If the sun has risen on him, then there is blood guilt for him. A thief 85  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 86  alive in his possession, 87  whether it be an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he must pay back double. 88 

22:5If a man grazes 89  his livestock 90  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 91  to thorn bushes, 92  so that stacked grain or standing grain or the whole field is consumed, the one who started 93  the fire must surely make restitution.

22:7If a man gives his neighbor money or articles 94  for safekeeping, 95  and it is stolen from the man’s house, if the thief is caught, 96  he must repay double. 22:8 If the thief is not caught, 97  then the owner of the house will be brought before the judges 98  to see 99  whether he has laid 100  his hand on his neighbor’s goods. 22:9 In all cases of illegal possessions, 101  whether for an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any kind of lost item, about which someone says ‘This belongs to me,’ 102  the matter of the two of them will come before the judges, 103  and the one whom 104  the judges declare guilty 105  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 106  or is carried away 107  without anyone seeing it, 108  22:11 then there will be an oath to the Lord 109  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 110  from him, 111  he will pay its owner. 22:13 If it is torn in pieces, then he will bring it for evidence, 112  and he will not have to pay for what was torn.

22:14If a man borrows an animal 113  from his neighbor, and it is hurt or dies when its owner was not with it, the man who borrowed it 114  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. 115 


Moral and Ceremonial Laws


“If a man seduces a virgin 117  who is not engaged 118  and has sexual relations with her, he must surely endow 119  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. 120 

22:19Whoever has sexual relations 121  with a beast must surely be put to death.

22:20Whoever sacrifices to a god other than the Lord 122  alone must be utterly destroyed. 123 

22:21You must not wrong 124  a foreigner 125  nor oppress him, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.

22:22You must not afflict 126  any widow or orphan. 22:23 If you afflict them 127  in any way 128  and they cry to me, I will surely hear 129  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. 130 

22:25If you lend money to any of 131  my people who are needy among you, do not be like a moneylender 132  to him; do not charge 133  him interest. 134  22:26 If you do take 135  the garment of your neighbor in pledge, you must return it to him by the time the sun goes down, 136  22:27 for it is his only covering – it is his garment for his body. 137  What else can he sleep in? 138  And 139  when he cries out to me, I will hear, for I am gracious.

22:28You must not blaspheme 140  God 141  or curse the ruler of your people.

22:29Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats. 142  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 143  people to me; you must not eat any meat torn by animals in the field. 144  You must throw it to the dogs.




“You must not give 146  a false report. 147  Do not make common cause 148  with the wicked 149  to be a malicious 150  witness.

23:2You must not follow a crowd 151  in doing evil things; 152  in a lawsuit you must not offer testimony that agrees with a crowd so as to pervert justice, 153  23:3 and you must not show partiality 154  to a poor man in his lawsuit.

23:4If you encounter 155  your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, you must by all means return 156  it to him. 23:5 If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen under its load, you must not ignore him, 157  but be sure to help 158  him with it. 159 

23:6You must not turn away justice for your poor people in their lawsuits. 23:7 Keep your distance 160  from a false charge 161  – do not kill the innocent and the righteous, 162  for I will not justify the wicked. 163 

23:8You must not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see 164  and subverts the words of the righteous.

23:9You must not oppress 165  a foreigner, since you know the life 166  of a foreigner, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.


Sabbaths and Feasts


“For six years 168  you are to sow your land and gather in its produce. 23:11 But in the seventh year 169  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 170  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 171  may refresh themselves. 172 

23:13Pay attention to do 173  everything I have told you, and do not even mention 174  the names of other gods – do not let them be heard on your lips. 175 

23:14Three times 176  in the year you must make a pilgrim feast 177  to me. 23:15 You are to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; seven days 178  you must eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you, at the appointed time of the month of Abib, for at that time 179  you came out of Egypt. No one may appear before 180  me empty-handed.

23:16You are also to observe 181  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 182  when you have gathered in 183  your harvest 184  out of the field. 23:17 At 185  three times in the year all your males will appear before the Lord God. 186 

23:18You must not offer 187  the blood of my sacrifice with bread containing yeast; the fat of my festal sacrifice must not remain until morning. 188  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. 189 


The Angel of the Presence


“I am going to send 191  an angel 192  before you to protect you as you journey 193  and to bring you into the place that I have prepared. 194  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 195  is in him. 23:22 But if you diligently obey him 196  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. 197 

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 198  to pieces. 199  23:25 You must serve 200  the Lord your God, and he 201  will bless your bread and your water, 202  and I will remove sickness from your midst. 23:26 No woman will miscarry her young 203  or be barren in your land. I will fulfill 204  the number of your days.

23:27I will send my terror 205  before you, and I will destroy 206  all the people whom you encounter; I will make all your enemies turn their backs 207  to you. 23:28 I will send 208  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 209  multiply against you. 23:30 Little by little 210  I will drive them out before you, until you become fruitful and inherit the land. 23:31 I will set 211  your boundaries from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River, 212  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 213  to you.”

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