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Exodus 21

Hebrew Servants
(Deuteronomy 15:12–18)

1 “These are the ordinances that you are to set before them:

2 If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free without paying anything. 3 If he arrived alone, he is to leave alone; if he arrived with a wife, she is to leave with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.

5 But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children; I do not want to go free,’ 6 then his master is to bring him before the judges. a And he shall take him to the door or doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he shall serve his master for life.

7 And if a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as the menservants do. 8 If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who had designated her for himself, b he must allow her to be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, since he has broken faith with her. 9 And if he chooses her for his son, he must deal with her as with a daughter. 10 If he takes another wife, he must not reduce the food, clothing, or marital rights of his first wife. 11 If, however, he does not provide her with these three things, she is free to go without monetary payment.

Personal Injury Laws

12 Whoever strikes and kills a man must surely be put to death. 13 If, however, he did not lie in wait, but God allowed it to happen, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee.

14 But if a man schemes and acts willfully against his neighbor to kill him, you must take him away from My altar to be put to death.

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

16 Whoever kidnaps another man must be put to death, whether he sells him or the man is found in his possession.

17 Anyone who curses c his father or mother must surely be put to death. d 

18 If men are quarreling and one strikes the other with a stone or a fist, and he does not die but is confined to bed, 19 then the one who struck him shall go unpunished, as long as the other can get up and walk around outside with his staff. Nevertheless, he must compensate the man for his lost work and see that he is completely healed.

20 If a man strikes his manservant or maidservant with a rod, and the servant dies by his hand, he shall surely be punished. 21 However, if the servant gets up after a day or two, the owner shall not be punished, since the servant is his property.

22 If men who are fighting strike a pregnant woman and her child is born prematurely, e but there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband demands and as the court allows. 23 But if a serious injury results, then you must require a life for a life— 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, f hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, and stripe for stripe.

26 If a man strikes and blinds the eye of his manservant or maidservant, he must let the servant go free as compensation for the eye. 27 And if he knocks out the tooth of his manservant or maidservant, he must let the servant go free as compensation for the tooth.

28 If an ox g gores a man or woman to death, the ox must surely be stoned, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the ox shall not be held responsible.

29 But if the ox has a habit of goring, and its owner has been warned yet does not restrain it, and it kills a man or woman, then the ox must be stoned and its owner must also be put to death. 30 If payment is demanded of him instead, he may redeem his life by paying the full amount demanded of him.

31 If the ox gores a son or a daughter, it shall be done to him according to the same rule.

32 If the ox gores a manservant or maidservant, the owner must pay thirty shekels of silver h to the master of that servant, and the ox must be stoned.

33 If a man opens or digs a pit and fails to cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, 34 the owner of the pit shall make restitution; he must pay its owner, and the dead animal will be his.

35 If a man’s ox injures his neighbor’s ox and it dies, they must sell the live one and divide the proceeds; they also must divide the dead animal. 36 But if it was known that the ox had a habit of goring, yet its owner failed to restrain it, he shall pay full compensation, ox for ox, and the dead animal will be his.



6 a Or before God
8 b Or so that he does not designate her for himself
17 c Or dishonors or reviles
17 d Cited in Matthew 15:4 and Mark 7:10
22 e Or she has a miscarriage
24 f Cited in Matthew 5:38
28 g Or a bull ; also in verses 29–36
32 h 30 shekels is approximately 12 ounces or 342 grams of silver.

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