(Exo 21:1 NASB) “Now these are the ordinances which you are to set before them.
Exo 21:1: Moses is told that there are ordinances that are to be followed by His people. Israel was just recently given the Ten Commandments which is the superstructure of Torah. Now, Elohim will give more ordinances for every day as His people.
These Laws are just as applicable today as they were in that day. The difference is, some of them cannot be enforced or cannot go into effect due to the laws of man today. For instance, One is not allowed to sell oneself into slavery in order to come out of poverty in this day. Therefore, the laws of slavery will not apply because the government is the only entity that is allowed to enslave people today.
But in all cases where the situations described can occur, the laws should be followed by all who are involved.
(Exo 21:2 NASB) “If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment.
Exo 21:2: In some instances, people sold themselves into slavery. This would occur in cases of extreme poverty or insolvency. By self-sale for a period of time, the destitute poor could gain some measure of security.
This particular passage is referring to those who are Hebrew that are bought as slaves. But it could also apply to those who are sentenced to slavery in a punitive way through theft or other lawless activity.
This law is mentioned in lesser detail in Deuteronomy also. In that description, the fellow Hebrew is called a “kinsman” or a “brother” (Deut. 15:12)
(Exo 21:3 NASB) “If he comes alone, he shall go out alone; if he is the husband of a wife, then his wife shall go out with him.
Exo 21:3: If the Hebrew man goes into slavery single he must leave his master single. If he was married when he went into slavery, he will leave his master as a married man. He is to go out in the same matrimonial condition he went in.
(Exo 21:4 NASB) “If his master gives him a wife, and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out alone.
(Exo 21:5 NASB) “But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’
(Exo 21:6 NASB) then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.
Exo 21:6: We are told that Yeshua came to fulfill Torah, not to abolish one jot or tittle (Matt. 5:17). Therefore, we could see a fulfillment (making full) of this law in Yeshua.
When Yeshua came, He was a servant of Elohim (Matt. 12:18). While He was here as a servant, His Master betrothed to Him a bride, which is Israel (Isa. 54:5). Although betrothed, the marriage will not be finalized until Messiah returns (Rev. 19:7-9). In order to accept this bride, Yeshua had to allow Himself to be pierced (John 19:34). If the requirement was for His ear to be pierced, this certainly happened during His flogging which was after His sentence was decided (Matt. 27:26).
This law concerning the permanent servant-hood of Yeshua is also in fulfillment of the Messianic Psalm 40:6-8.
(Exo 21:7 NASB) “And if a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do.
(Exo 21:8 NASB) “If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his unfairness to her.
(Exo 21:9 NASB) “And if he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters.
Exo 21:9: A father from a poor family might sell his daughter to a well-to-do family in order to secure a future for her. The sale presupposes marriage to the master or his son. The Torah states that she must be treated as a “daughter” or as a free woman.
A female cannot be sold into slavery for sex in any way. She can only be sold as a future wife for the master or his son.
(Exo 21:10 NASB) “If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights.
Exo 21:10: If he takes a second wife, he must still support her in the same manner. He must still supply her as a wife and not as a servant.
(Exo 21:11 NASB) “And if he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.
Exo 21:11: If he or his son does not marry her, or if she is not provided for as a wife, then she is free. The payment for her is lost by the master.
(Exo 21:12 NASB) “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.
(Exo 21:13 NASB) “But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint you a place to which he may flee.
Exo 21:13: The penalty for murdering a man is death. If the killing is accidental, then Elohim provides cities of refuge for the accidental man-slaughterer to flee to in order to be protected from retaliation (Num. 35, Deut. 19).
(Exo 21:14 NASB) “If, however, a man acts presumptuously toward his neighbor, so as to kill him craftily, you are to take him even from My altar, that he may die.
Exo 21:14: This passage states that a murderer is to be taken “even from My altar.” This means that even if a man has sought refuge at the altar of Elohim or even if that man is a priest, they cannot escape justice.
The penalty for murder is death. We are told elsewhere in Torah that this execution can only take place on the word of two or more witnesses. Also, Torah states that there is no compensation that can stop the convicted man from being put to death (Num. 35:30-31).
(Exo 21:15 NASB) “And he who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.
Exo 21:15: This is a blatant act of betraying the fifth commandment. Mother and father are to be honored. The physical marks of violence from a son or daughter inflicted on a parent invokes the punishment of death.
Keep in mind that individually, we can no more enforce this law (and some of the others) any more than we can, as individuals, kill a murderer. These laws are ones that are intended for the government to enforce. We cannot take the law or government into our own hands.
The rampant disrespect for parents and violence in today’s society is a product of our governmental lawlessness.
(Exo 21:16 NASB) “And he who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.
Exo 21:16: The supposed “Lindberg Law” is nothing new. It was in Torah thousands of years ago. This law in Torah is illustrative that slave trade was somewhat common. Joseph was an example of this.
(Exo 21:17 NASB) “And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.
Exo 21:17: Parents are to be honored by their children. To bring up your children in a disciplined fashion to where they respect their parents could save their lives.
(Exo 21:18 NASB) “And if men have a quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist, and he does not die but remains in bed;
(Exo 21:19 NASB) if he gets up and walks around outside on his staff, then he who struck him shall go unpunished; he shall only pay for his loss of time, and shall take care of him until he is completely healed.
Exo 21:19: Men sometimes argue and fight. If that happens, the “winner” will pay the “loser” for medical expenses and loss of income.
(Exo 21:20 NASB) “And if a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished.
(Exo 21:21 NASB) “If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.
Exo 21:21: Keep in mind that slavery was the form of jail or imprisonment in that day. If someone was caught stealing, they had to repay the victim several times over. If he could not repay, he becomes the slave of the person he stole from.
If a man kills a male or female slave, and that slave dies right away, then the owner will be killed. However, if the slave lives for a day or two afterwards, then the intent of the owner was not to kill the slave, but to punish him or her. Then he will not be punished.
(Exo 21:22 NASB) “And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide.
Exo 21:22: The term “miscarriage” is not exactly correct. The Hebrew word does not make it clear if the baby is alive or dead. It just states that if a man strikes a woman and the baby is expelled because of this, then he is fined as the woman’s husband demands. The judges will ultimately decide if the payment is just.
(Exo 21:23 NASB) “But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life,
(Exo 21:24 NASB) eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
(Exo 21:25 NASB) burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
Exo 21:25: The baby in the womb is afforded the same protections as any other person. Any injury to the baby or mother will also be taken on the one who did the offense.
(Exo 21:26 NASB) “And if a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye.
(Exo 21:27 NASB) “And if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth.
Exo 21:27: Slaves have a lower status than other people, but protection is given.
(Exo 21:28 NASB) “And if an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall surely be stoned and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall go unpunished.
(Exo 21:29 NASB) “If, however, an ox was previously in the habit of goring, and its owner has been warned, yet he does not confine it, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned and its owner also shall be put to death.
Exo 21:29: This law states that an owner is responsible for his animals. But allowance is made for the fact that animals are just that. They can be unpredictable. But if they do this once, the owner must destroy the animal. If not, it will cost the owner his life if it happens again.
(Exo 21:30 NASB) “If a ransom is demanded of him, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is demanded of him.
Exo 21:30: The relatives of the slain man may, in this case, demand a ransom for the life of their loved one, in lieu of his life of the owner. This is because the owner did not intentionally kill the man, but it was his responsibility.
(Exo 21:31 NASB) “Whether it gores a son or a daughter, it shall be done to him according to the same rule.
(Exo 21:32 NASB) “If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall give his or her master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.
Exo 21:32: In the case of a slave being gored by an ox, the owner is due compensation. The redemption price for a slave is the price that Judas was paid for the life of Yeshua (Matt. 26:14-16).
(Exo 21:33 NASB) “And if a man opens a pit, or digs a pit and does not cover it over, and an ox or a donkey falls into it,
(Exo 21:34 NASB) the owner of the pit shall make restitution; he shall give money to its owner, and the dead animal shall become his.
Exo 21:34: The old expression, “You just bought yerself a donkey (or ox or dog)” comes from this expression. We are to be responsible citizens and not be a danger to our neighbors or their animals.
(Exo 21:35 NASB) “And if one man’s ox hurts another’s so that it dies, then they shall sell the live ox and divide its price equally; and also they shall divide the dead ox.
(Exo 21:36 NASB) “Or if it is known that the ox was previously in the habit of goring, yet its owner has not confined it, he shall surely pay ox for ox, and the dead animal shall become his.
Exo 21:36: These laws are fair and equitable and promote good relationships between people. We should follow these today in the same way. We don’t need judges to declare some of these verdicts with one another. We should willingly do so.
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas