Exodus chapter 21

Owning slaves. A wife’s rights. Personal injury.





VERSE 1. “Now these are the ordinances which you shall set before them:


VERSE 2. “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free without paying anything.

If you buy a Hebrew servant. This is disheartening.

The LORD God had just freed them from their own slavery. Now they are already enslaving other people.

in the seventh he shall go out free. Slavery was not meant to be perpetual. For the Hebrew people, it ended every seven years. Every seven years, all slaves were set free.


VERSE 3. If he comes in by himself, he shall go out by himself. If he is married, then his wife shall go out with him.

his wife shall go out with him. They didn’t separate families.


VERSE 4. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself.


VERSE 5. But if the servant shall plainly say, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I will not go out free;’


VERSE 6. then his master shall bring him to God, and shall bring him to the door or to the doorpost, and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him forever.

bore his ear through with an awl. This sounds gruesome. However, in those days, it was likely a type of body art.

In our day, many people pay to have their ears pierced.


VERSE 7. “If a man sells his daughter to be a female servant, she shall not go out as the male servants do.


VERSE 8. If she doesn’t please her master, who has married her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt deceitfully with her.


VERSE 9. If he marries her to his son, he shall deal with her as a daughter.




VERSE 10. If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marital rights.

If he takes another wife. When a couple gets married, the Bible awards the woman with powerful legal protections. She has an absolute right to three things:

1. food. The husband was required to provide his wife with food.

2. clothing. The husband was required to provide his wife with clothing.

3. her marital rights. The husband was required to provide his wife with a sexual relationship that fulfills HER needs and brought her to orgasm.

The Hebrew word for this third right is עֹנַת (“onah”).

Christian scholars are quite timid when it comes to that third item. Some scholars call it “marital rights.” A few call it “conjugal rights.” Still others imagine it means a husband must give his wife offspring.

But Jewish scholars say it it is sexual. Judaism believes sex is one of the three basic rights of women, not men.

The requirements of “onah” are directed toward men:

  • To give his wife sex frequently
  • To ensure that sex is “pleasurable” for her

A woman’s sexual fulfillment isn’t a privilege or a luxury. The Bible describes it as a woman’s right, and protects it by Divine Law.

If a husband is not fulfilling his wife’s sexual appetite, she has the right to divorce him.

A godly man will discover great fulfillment as he fulfills his wife sexually.


VERSE 11. If he doesn’t do these three things for her, she may go free without paying any money.

If he doesn’t do these three things. If a husband failed to provide any of those three things mentioned in the previous verse, she has the absolute right to divorce him.

For example, a wife can divorce her husband for not bringing her to orgasm. That is her right, granted in monotheistic law.

We are aware of no Christian church with legislation similar to this. As a people-group, Christians do not value women nearly as highly as the Jewish people.




VERSE 12. “One who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death,


VERSE 13. but not if it is unintentional, but God allows it to happen; then I will appoint you a place where he shall flee.

a place where he shall flee. Later, we will hear about cities of refuge.

The cities of refuge are described in four books of the Old Testament:

Exodus 21:12-36. Personal injury

Numbers 35:9-15. Cities of Refuge

Deuteronomy 19:1-13. Cities of Refuge

Joshua 20:1-9. Cities of Refuge

The fact that the Cities of Refuge are described in four different books of the Bible attests to their importance.


VERSE 14. If a man schemes and comes presumptuously on his neighbor to kill him, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.


VERSE 15. “Anyone who attacks his father or his mother shall be surely put to death.


VERSE 16. “Anyone who kidnaps someone and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.


VERSE 17. “Anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.


VERSE 18. “If men quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone, or with his fist, and he doesn’t die, but is confined to bed;


VERSE 19. if he rises again and walks around with his staff, then he who struck him shall be cleared; only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall provide for his healing until he is thoroughly healed.


VERSE 20. “If a man strikes his servant or his maid with a rod, and he dies under his hand, the man shall surely be punished.


VERSE 21. Notwithstanding, if his servant gets up after a day or two, he shall not be punished, for the servant is his property.


VERSE 22. “If men fight and hurt a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely, and yet no harm follows, he shall be surely fined as much as the woman’s husband demands and the judges allow.

hurt a pregnant woman. If two men fight and hurt a pregnant woman, causing a miscarriage, they must pay a fee.

This tells us the life of the woman is far more important than the pregnancy.


VERSE 23. But if any harm follows, then you must take life for life,


VERSE 24. eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

eye for eye. Mohandas K. Gandhi famously commented on this verse, saying:

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.


VERSE 25. burning for burning, wound for wound, and bruise for bruise.


VERSE 26. “If a man strikes his servant’s eye, or his maid’s eye, and destroys it, he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake.


VERSE 27. If he strikes out his male servant’s tooth, or his female servant’s tooth, he shall let the servant go free for his tooth’s sake.


VERSE 28. “If a bull gores a man or a woman to death, the bull shall surely be stoned, and its meat shall not be eaten; but the owner of the bull shall not be held responsible.


VERSE 29. But if the bull had a habit of goring in the past, and this has been testified to its owner, and he has not kept it in, but it has killed a man or a woman, the bull shall be stoned, and its owner shall also be put to death.


VERSE 30. If a ransom is imposed on him, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is imposed.


VERSE 31. Whether it has gored a son or has gored a daughter, according to this judgment it shall be done to him.


VERSE 32. If the bull gores a male servant or a female servant, thirty shekels of silver shall be given to their master, and the ox shall be stoned.

shekels. A shekel is about 10 grams or about 0.35 ounces. So 30 shekels is about 300 grams or about 10.6 ounces.

thirty shekels of silver. Thirty pieces of silver was the price of a slave.

Zechariah 11:12. I said to them, “If you think it best, give me my wages; and if not, keep them.” So they weighed for my wages thirty pieces of silver.

Matthew 26:15. and said, “What are you willing to give me, that I should deliver him to you?” They weighed out for him thirty pieces of silver.


VERSE 33. “If a man opens a pit, or if a man digs a pit and doesn’t cover it, and a bull or a donkey falls into it,


VERSE 34. the owner of the pit shall make it good. He shall give money to its owner, and the dead animal shall be his.


VERSE 35. “If one man’s bull injures another’s, so that it dies, then they shall sell the live bull, and divide its price; and they shall also divide the dead animal.


VERSE 36. Or if it is known that the bull was in the habit of goring in the past, and its owner has not kept it in, he shall surely pay bull for bull, and the dead animal shall be his own.


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

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