Exodus 21 Slaves, Killing, Fighting and Goring

Slaves, Killing, Fighting and Goring

 

 

Background and printed text: Exodus 21

 

Exodus 21:1 And these are the justices that thou shalt set to their faces.

 

2When thou shalt buy a Hebrew slave, he will serve six years. And in the seventh he will exit to freedom gratis. 3If he will come with his body, he will exit with his body. If he is a husband of a woman, and his woman will exit with him.

 

4If his lords will give a woman to him, and she will child to him sons or daughters, the woman and her children will be to her lords. And he will exit with his body. 5And if the slave will say, saying, “I loved my lords, my woman and my children! I will not exit free!” 6And his lords shall approach him unto the Elohim. And he shall approach him unto the door or unto the Mezuzah. And his lords shall pierce his ear with a piercing-tool. And he shall serve him to Hider.

 

7And when a man will sell his daughter to a slavemaiden, she shall not-exit as the exiting of the slaves. 8If she-is-bad in the eyes of her lords who did not betroth her, and she shall be redeemed. He shall not rule to sell her to a foreign people in his defrauding via her. 9And if he will betroth her to his son, he will do to her as the justice of the daughters.

 

10If he will take to himself another {feminine}, he will not diminish her remainder, her blanket-covering and her cohabiting. 11And if he will not do these three to her, and he will exit her gratis─there is no silver.

 

12The smiter of a man, and he will die: dying, he shall-be-made-to-die! 13And whoever did not stalk, and the Elohim situated to his hand, and I will put a place to thee that he will flee there.

 

14And when a man will presume upon his neighbour to slay him via guile, thou shalt take him from with my altar to die.

 

15And the smiter of his father and his mother: dying he shall-be-caused-to-die!

 

16And a stealer of a man, and he sells him, and he will be found in his hand: dying, he shall-be-caused-to-die!

 

17And he lightly esteems his father and his mother: dying, he shall-be-caused-to-die!

 

18And when men shall fight, and a man shall smite his neighbour via a stone or via a fist and he will not die, and he will fall to bed, 19if he will arise and he will walk himself into the outside upon his staff, and the smiter will be innocent. Only he will give his sitting and healing—he-will-cause-healing!

 

20And when a man will smite his slave or his slavemaiden via a rod, and he will die under his hand, avenging, he shall be avenged! 21Only if he will arise a day or days, he will-not-be-avenged. For he is his silver.

 

22And when men will physically-fight, and they will smite a pregnant woman, and her children will exit, and there will not be injury, amerced, he shall be amerced just-as the husband of the woman will set upon him. And he will give via the deliberators. 23And if injury will be, and thou shalt give, being under being!— 24eye under eye, tooth under tooth, hand under hand, foot under foot, 25branding under branding, wound under wound, bruise under bruise.

 

26And when a man will smite the eye of his slave or the eye of his slavemaiden, and he will blind her, he will send him to freedom under his eye. 27And if a tooth of his slave or a tooth of his slavemaiden will fall, he will send him to freedom under his tooth.

 

28And when an ox will gore a man or a woman and he will die, stoning, the ox shall be stoned! And he shall not eat his flesh. And the husband of the ox is innocent. 29And if an ox—he gored from yesterday three days ago, and he was testified via his husbands, and he will not guard him, and the ox will cause- a man or a woman -to-die, he will be stoned, and also his husbands─he will-be-caused-to-die! 30And if a covering will be set upon him, and he shall give a redemption of his being as all that will be set upon him! 31Or he will gore a son, or he will gore a daughter, he will be done to him as this justice.

 

32If the ox will gore a slave or a slavemaiden, he will give silver of 30 shekels to his lords. And the ox will be stoned.

 

33And when a man will open a pit, or when a man will dig a pit, and he will not cover him, and an ox or an ass will fall ‘thereward,’ 34the husband of the pit will make peace. He will return silver to his husbands. And the dead will be to him.

 

35And when the ox of a man will attack the ox of his neighbour, and he will die, and they shall sell the living ox. And they shall halve his silver. And they shall also halve the dead. 36Or it was known that the ox—he gored from yesterday, three days ago, and his husbands will not guard {singular} him: making-peace, he shall make peace, an ox under the ox. And the dead will be to him.

 

37When a man shall steal an ox or a sheep and slaughter him or sell him, he will-make-peace: five of the herd under the ox and four of the flock under the sheep!

 

 

 

I. The Justices (verse 1)

 

Yehovah commanded Moshe to set these justices to the faces of the Israelis. How surprising to find that the first justices pertain to proper treatment of slaves!

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     Why did Yehovah call these things justices?

 

2.     Why must these be “set to their faces” (instead of being told to them or written for them)?

 

 

 

II. Buying a Hebrew Slave (verses 2-3)

 

Israelis will purchase Hebrew slaves. (A Hebrew slave is an Israeli slave.) The slave will serve six years. In the seventh year, the slave will exit from slavery to freedom gratis—that is, without having to pay anything.

 

If the slave will come with the only possession being his own physical body, he will exit with his physical body. If, on the other hand, he is a husband of a woman, his woman will exit with him.

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     Who is thou in, “When thou shalt buy a Hebrew slave”?

 

2.     What is a Hebrew slave?

 

3.     The text states, “He will serve six years.” Can’t the time of his serving as a slave be less than six years?

 

4.     Why did Yehovah choose six years (instead of seven or five, for examples)?

 

5.     What does gratis mean?

 

6.     Suppose that this slave had run up a debt that is equivalent to 25,000,000 dollars; how would his being a slave for six years come anywhere near paying that debt?

 

7.     The text states, “If he will come with his body, he will exit with his body.” How could he come without his body?

 

8.     If he is a husband of a woman, does his woman also become a slave when he does?

 

9.     If he went into slavery with his children, would they also come out with him?

 

10.  Suppose that an Israeli purchases a slave who isn’t a Hebrew. Will that slave also exit in the seventh year?

 

 

 

III. Slaves Making Babies (verses 4-6)

 

A slavemaster of a Hebrew slave can give a woman to the slave to make babies. If she does become pregnant for the slavemaster, the woman and her children will be the property of the slavemaster (and not the slave who impregnated her—who got her pregnant). When the time comes for the slave to exit, he will exit with his own physical body, and not with the woman or the child that he fathered.

 

Now, if the slave will insistently say, “I loved my lords, my woman and my children! I will not exit free,” his slavemaster will ‘approach’ him unto the Elohim—unto the Gods of Israel. And he will ‘approach’ him unto the door or unto the Mezuzah (the doorpost). The slavemaster will then pierce his ear with a piercing-tool. The slave will then serve the slavemaster to Hider—he will permanently become his property. (That way, he can keep his woman and his child/children.)

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     Why is lords plural? Does this refer to a slavemaster and his wife?

 

2.     If the slave’s lords will give a woman to him, does she become the slave’s wife?

 

3.     Aren’t a man and a woman supposed to be married in the Bible before having sex and producing children?

 

4.     Why would a slavemaster desire a slave to produce children for the slavemaster?

 

5.     What does “he will exit with his body” mean, again?

 

6.     In what order will the slave declare his love?

 

7.     What else must the slave declare?

 

8.     Under what conditions would a slave be willing to voluntarily become a permanent slave to another human?

 

9.     Isn’t slavery evil?

 

10.  The next verse states, “And his lords shall approach him unto the Elohim.” What does this mean, and how can this happen?

 

11.  Why should he approach him unto the door, and what door is this?

 

12.  What is a Mezuzah?

 

13.  What is a piercing tool?

 

14.  Why must the ear be pierced?

 

15.  What does “he shall serve him to Hider” mean?

 

16.  Since a human cannot serve another to Hider (due to finally becoming old and dying), what does this section of the text typify?

 

 

 

IV. Selling a Daughter (verses 7-9)

 

An Israeli can sell his daughter as a slavemaiden. (See questions to learn why this might occur.) This slavemaiden shall not exit (go out) as the exiting of the slaves. She must be treated differently from the other slaves.

 

If her slavemaster doesn’t look at her in a good light, and if he also didn’t betroth her (either to himself or to his son), she must be redeemed. The slavemaster is never permitted to sell her to a foreign people in the process of defrauding (dealing crookedly with her) by means of her.

 

If, on the other hand, he will betroth her to his son, he must do to her exactly what is the justice to do with daughters.

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     Does the man really sell his daughter to a slavemaiden?

 

2.     Isn’t selling a daughter to become a slavemaiden really cold, an act of total lovelessness, and just cruel?

 

3.     What does “she shall not-exit as the exiting of the slaves” mean?

 

4.     What does “she is bad in the eyes of her lords” mean?

 

5.     What does betroth mean?

 

6.     What does “she shall be redeemed” mean?

 

7.     What does defraud mean?

 

8.     Explain “He shall not rule to sell her to a foreign people in his defrauding via her”:

 

9.     Can this slavemaster betroth this slavemaiden to his son without her parents’ permission?

 

10.  What does “he will do to her as the justice of the daughters” mean?

 

 

 

V. Second Wife (verses 10-11)

 

If the son of the slavemaster who has married the slavemaiden takes another woman to himself as a second wife, he will not diminish the remainder of the woman who was both the first woman and the slavemaiden. He will not diminish her blanket-covering, and he will not diminish her cohabiting—sleeping with her. If he will not do these three to her, he will exit her without any redemption price—that is, gratis; there must be no silver exchange for her leaving.

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     Does the Bible permit an Israeli to have more than one wife?

 

2.     Why would Yehovah permit a man to have more than one wife?

 

3.     Can a man have more than one wife in the United States and in countries with similar cultures?

 

4.     Isn’t taking on another wife a form of cruelty to the first wife?

 

5.     Who is taking to himself another woman?

 

6.     What does “he will not diminish her remainder” mean?

 

7.     What does “he will not diminish … her blanket-covering” mean?

 

8.     What does “he will not diminish … her cohabiting” mean?

 

9.     Verse 11 states, “And if he will not do these three to her, and he will exit her gratis─there is no silver.” Does he send her away after living with her as a wife for a while, and then after obtaining a second wife?

 

 

 

VI. Murderer and Manslayer (verses 12-13)

 

Anyone who smites a human such that he dies, the smiter shall be likewise made to die.

 

Now, if anyone killed another, and that person didn’t stalk the one he/she killed, and the Elohim situated the victim to the hand of the one who killed him, Yehovah will put a place to Israel so that this ‘manslayer’ will flee there.

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     What does “The smiter of a man, and he will die” mean?

 

2.     What does “dying, he shall-be-made-to-die” mean?

 

3.     Is Yehovah for capital punishment, or is He against capital punishment?

 

4.     What does “the Elohim situated to his hand” mean?

 

5.     What does “whoever did not stalk, and the Elohim situated to his hand, and I will put a place to thee that he will flee there” mean?

 

 

 

VII. Plotting Murderer (verse 14)

 

When a man will presume upon his neighbour (assume with arrogance in a prideful approach) to slay him via guile, Israel must take that person from being with Yehovah’s altar so that the man will die (being put to death).

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     What does presume mean in the Bible?

 

2.     How can a person presume upon his neighbour (to slay him via guile)?

 

3.     Why must he slay him with guile?

 

4.     Why did Yehovah state, “thou shalt take him from with my altar to die”? Why was the man at Yehovah’s altar?

 

 

 

VIII. Parent Murderer (verse 15)

 

Smiting (striking) one’s father and one’s mother is a death-penalty offense; that person must be put to death.

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     What is a smiter of his father and his mother?

 

2.     Why is this a death penalty?

 

3.     Suppose that one’s father and mother are drowning; is smiting them in order to bring them to shore or to a ship also a death penalty?

 

 

 

IX. Kidnapper (verse 16)

 

Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him must be put to death.

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     What is a stealer of a man?

 

2.     If he sells him, how can he be found in his hand?

 

3.     Why is kidnapping a death penalty offense?

 

 

 

X. Light-Esteemer of Parents (verse 17)

 

Anyone who views parents with contempt as if they have little value must be put to death.

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     What does lightly esteem mean?

 

2.     Why is lightly esteeming father and mother a death penalty offense?

 

 

 

XI. Fighting and Reparations (verses 18-19)

 

Israeli men will fight. If one of them smites his neighbour via a stone or via a fist, and the neighbour doesn’t die, but he does fall to bed, if he later arises and walks on his own power into the outside upon his staff, the smiter will be innocent. In the meantime, however, the smiter must pay for whoever has to care for the man and for medical bills; the smiter must make sure the man is healed.

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     Will Israelis fight with each other?

 

2.     Is smiting a neighbour via a stone against the Torah?

 

3.     What does “he will fall to bed” mean?

 

4.     The text continues, “if he will arise and he will walk himself into the outside upon his staff …” What does this mean?

 

5.     Why will the smiter be innocent in this case?

 

6.     What does the text require the smiter to do?

 

7.     The text states, “he will cause healing!” What does this mean?

 

8.     Suppose that both men injure each other, and both are stuck in bed for a while. Are they even?

 

 

 

XII. Smiting a Slave (verses 20-21)

 

When a slavemaster smites a male or female slave via a rod, and the slave dies under his hand, vengeance must be taken for the slave.

 

If instead the slave arises in a day or several days, no vengeance will be taken for the slave since the slave is the silver of the slavemaster.

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     Is an Israeli in violation of the Torah if he/she smites a slave?

 

2.     In the case that a slave dies under a smiting, the text states, “avenging, he shall be avenged.” It doesn’t say what will be done. What will be done in such a case?

 

3.     Explain this: “Only if he will arise a day or days, he will-not-be-avenged. For he is his silver”:

 

4.     Doesn’t this paragraph permit the general mistreatment of slaves?

 

 

 

XIII. Pregnant Woman’s Injury during a Fight (verses 22-25)

 

Israelis will physically fight. If they will smite a pregnant woman in the process of fighting, and if her children will exit (from her womb), and there won’t be injury, there will still be a monetary fine for causing this birthing at this time. The husband of the woman will set the fine, and the one who smote the woman causing the birth will pay the fine. Deliberators will decide if the fine’s size is right, and the man will give according to the deliberators.

 

If, on the other hand, there will be injury, whatever the nature of the injury is, that will be done to the man who smote the pregnant woman!

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     Why would men smite a pregnant woman?

 

2.     Why does the text state, “and her children will exit,” instead of this: “and her child will exit”?

 

3.     What does amerced mean?

 

4.     Why does the woman’s husband (and not the woman) get to set the amount that must be paid?

 

5.     What is a deliberator?

 

6.     How many deliberators will be involved?

 

7.     What occurs if the deliberators determine that the amount declared by the husband is too high or too low?

 

8.     What must be done if the woman is injured?

 

9.     Why is the Torah so hard on the man who accidentally harmed the woman while fighting with another Israeli?

 

10.  What does under mean in “eye under eye,” etc.?

 

11.  Suppose that the injury is to the baby—what is the ruling regarding this?

 

 

 

XIV. Damaging a Slave (verses 26-27)

 

A slavemaster who will smite a slave might put out the slave’s eye. If he does, he must send the slave to freedom in the place of his/her eye. The same is true regarding a tooth.

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     Does it matter if putting out the eye of a slave was an accident, or was intentional?

 

2.     Why isn’t the eye of the slavemaster put out in an ‘eye-for-an-eye’ response?

 

3.     Supposing that both eyes are put out; wouldn’t sending the slave or slavemaiden to freedom be cruel, since he/she cannot do anything much for quite a while?

 

4.     Only the blinding of an eye or the falling of a tooth is mentioned. Suppose that the little toe of the slave is broken; what must be done in that case?

 

5.     Why does Yehovah pick things like the losing of a tooth when they are so minor compared to other things, and when the Torah is truly so short (in contrast to other bodies of ‘law’ in other lands)?

 

 

 

XV. A Goring Ox (verses 28-31)

 

An ox that gores a man or a woman to death must be stoned. No one is permitted to eat the flesh of the ox. The husband (ox owner and handler) is innocent.

 

On the other hand, if the ox gored yesterday or even three days ago, and someone testified this to the ox’s husbands (handlers), and the husband will not guard the ox, and the ox will cause a man or a woman to die, the ox will be stoned, and the ox’s husbands—he will also be put to death!

 

If a covering will be set upon the husband, the husband will give a redemption of his being according to all that will be set upon him!

 

If the ox will gore a son or a daughter, this same justice will be done to the husband.

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     Why must the ox be stoned to death instead of just being slaughtered?

 

2.     Who is he in, “And he shall not eat his flesh”?

 

3.     What does “the husband of the ox is innocent” mean?

 

4.     What does “he gored from yesterday three days ago” mean?

 

5.     Explain “he was testified via his husbands”:

 

6.     The text states, “and he will not guard him.” Does the husband of the ox refuse to guard the ox? Suppose that the husband was willing, but just couldn’t guard the ox for a short time; doesn’t that mean that he will guard him?

 

7.     Why must the husbands also be caused to die even if the ox broke down a fence (say), and then gored a man?

 

8.     How will the husband of the ox be caused to die?

 

9.     The next verse states, “And if a covering will be set upon him…” What does this mean?

 

10.  Under what circumstances might a covering keep the husband of the ox that gored from being put to death?

 

11.  Why is verse 31 necessary?

 

12.  How could this justice be the means of making a proper law regarding someone who drives after having become a little drunk, and kills someone?

 

 

 

XVI. Ox Goring a Slave (verse 32)

 

If the ox will gore a male or female slave, the husband will give 30 shekels of silver to the slavemaster, and the ox will be stoned.

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     Thirty shekels isn’t much at all—the equivalent of perhaps $50. Why is this all that occurs from an ox goring of a human?

 

2.     What will occur if the ox of a master kills that master’s slave?

 

 

 

XVII. An Open Pit (verses 33-34)

 

When a man opens or digs a pit, it is up to the man to provide a cover for the pit that will keep humans and large animals from falling into the pit. If the man who opens or digs the pit doesn’t provide such a cover, and an ox or an ass falls into the pit, the husband of the pit (the one who is responsible for the pit being opened or dug) will make peace. He will return silver to the husbands of the dead animal; he will now own the dead animal.

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     What does this text mean by cover him?

 

2.     What is the purpose of digging such a hole?

 

3.     Suppose that the animal falls into the pit, but isn’t hurt; must the one who dug the pit pay something?

 

4.     What does “thereward” mean?

 

5.     What does “the husband of the pit will make peace” mean?

 

6.     Suppose that the animal that was harmed or killed was a pet or a prize animal to the owner; how would peace be made?

 

7.     What does “He will return silver to his husbands” mean?

 

8.     Why must the price be in silver? Why didn’t the text specify that silver or gold could be used?

 

9.     Suppose that he doesn’t want the dead animal; can he leave the animal in the pit, and cover it?

 

10.  If the animal is an ox, and it just recently fell into the pit and died, can the new owner eat the animal?

 

 

 

XVIII. Ox Duel (verses 35-36)

 

If one ox of one man attacks another ox of a neighbour, and the neighbour’s ox dies, both men must sell the living ox. They must then halve the silver for the ox. They will also halve the dead ox.

 

If it was known that the ox gored yesterday or even three days ago, and his husbands will not guard the ox, that owner must make peace, replacing the ox with one of his own oxen (or acquiring an equivalent ox for the victim’s husband). The owner of the goring ox will now own the dead ox.

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     What must they do if an ox attacks and kills two oxen of his neighbour?

 

 

 

XIX. Animal Theft (verse 37)

 

A sheepstealer or an ox thief who slaughters or sells the animal must make peace with the owner. Making peace includes this: he must give five animals of the herd in the place of the ox, and four of the flock in the place of the sheep!

 

 

 

Questions

 

1.     What must be done to a man who steals an ox or a sheep, and is found with the animal alive and unsold?

 

2.     What will happen to the thief if he cannot cover these costs?

 

3.     Why are the rates for oxen and sheep different—that is, five of the herd under the ox, and four of the flock under the sheep?

 

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