Exodus 21

About servants 1
About violence 12
About animals28
 1 ¶ Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them.
.2  If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.
.3  If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him.
 4  If 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.
.5  And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free:
.6  Then 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. 

  Code of Hammurabi We find many points in the ancient laws of this man that are similar to what Moses wrote here. We look at the issue in discussing the next chapter and for v22 below.
   1 - Judgments That is, the regulations for making judgments settling claims of injustice. In the previous chapter we heard the ten commandments spoken from Sinai. What follows here may be seen as further explanations of how to apply them.
   5 - Not go free This is the choice we make for our master, Christ.
   6 - Bore ear ... forever This corresponds to the covenant relationship.
   6 - For ever In the primary meaning of this text, the servant would someday die (or his master would) and he would be free. In modern language, the term "forever" has taken on a meaning different from what it has in the Bible where it means "for a very long time" or "permanently." Compare is4214.
.7  And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.
.8  If 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.
 9  And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters.
 10  If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.
 11  And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.
. 7 - Sell his daughter For example see ne0505.
.12 ¶ He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.
 13  And 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.
.14  But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.
 15  And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.
.16  And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.
.17  And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.
 18  And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed:
 19  If 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.
 20  And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.
 21  Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.
  21 - The death penalty.
.22 ¶ 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 upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. Compare with the Code of Hammurabi, from Egypt. See below.
If a citizen has struck the daughter of a citizen, and causes her (thus) to have a miscarriage, he shall pay ten shekels of silver for her fetus.
  As the judges determine This was a great improvement. Judges would determine the penalty. 
.23  And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
 24  Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
 25  Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
 26  And 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.
 27  And if he smite out his manservant's tooth, or his maidservant's tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth's sake.
  24 - Eye for eye Notice from v23 that this would apply "if any mischif follow." The judges apparently would have given a lighter sentence for the first offense.
  "The law which authorized retaliation (a principle acted upon by all primitive people) was a civil one. It was given to regulate the procedure of the public magistrate in determining the amount of compensation in every case of injury, but did not encourage feelings of private revenge. The later Jews, however, mistook it for a moral precept, and were corrected by our Lord (Mt 5:38-42)." (JFB)
.28  If 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.
 29  But 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.
 30  If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him.
 31  Whether he have gored a son, or have gored a daughter, according to this judgment shall it be done unto him.
.32  If 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.
 33  And 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;
 34  The owner of the pit shall make it good, and give money unto the owner of them; and the dead beast shall be his.
 35  And 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.
 36  Or 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.
  Have you ever complained about the city regulations against letting your dog run loose?

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A common criticism of the Bible has been fueled by the Code of Hammurabi. (See v5 above.) Critics boasted that Moses simply got his ideas from this Babylonian; God, they said, did not really speak from the mountain and write on stone. Evidence? The Hammurabi document was written in the time of the patriarchs four centuries before Moses. Does this leave us with no way but to accept the theory? Other problems from God's word which have seemed impossible to solve, now have solutions. This one does, too. Some 45 years later (1948) an older code written in the Sumerian language was found. It was a century or two older than Hammurabi's code and contained some of the identical laws. Later that year a third code came to light taking us back another century. The later ones were copied from it. Then in 1954 an article describing a still-older code, the Ur-Nammu, was published. This one was more humane than the others. The Lord had communicated His way of happiness long before Sinai ge2605. As pagan ideas crept in, customs and laws gradually changed. So we may trust God with what we still don't know.