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Laws Concerning the Treatment of Slaves

21 The Lord continued, “Here are the legal decisions to be used by the Israelites:

“Whenever you buy a Hebrew slave, he will be your slave for six years. In the seventh year he may leave as a free man, without paying for his freedom. If he comes to you by himself, he must leave by himself. If he comes as a married man, his wife may leave with him. If his master gives him a wife and she gives birth to sons or daughters, the wife and her children belong to the master, and the slave must leave by himself. But if he makes this statement: ‘I hereby declare my love for my master, my wife, and my children. I don’t want to leave as a free man,’ then his master must bring him to Elohim. The master must bring him to the door or the doorframe and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his slave for life.

“Whenever a man sells his daughter into slavery, she will not go free the way male slaves do. If she doesn’t please the master who has chosen her as a wife,[a] he must let her be bought back by one of her close relatives. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, since he has treated her unfairly. But if he has chosen her for his son, he must treat her like a daughter. 10 If that son marries another woman, he must not deprive the first wife of food, clothes, or sex.

11 If he doesn’t give her these three things, she can go free, without paying any money for her freedom.

Laws Concerning Injury to People

12 “Whoever strikes someone and kills him must be put to death. 13 If it wasn’t done intentionally, but Elohim let it happen, the killer should flee to a place I will set aside for you. 14 But whenever someone becomes so angry that he plans to kill his neighbor, you must take him away from my altar and put him to death.

15 “Whoever hits his father or mother must be put to death.

16 “Whoever kidnaps another person must be put to death, whether he has sold the kidnapped person or still has him.

17 “Whoever curses his father or mother must be put to death.

18 “This is what you must do whenever men quarrel and one hits the other with a rock or with his fist and injures him so that he has to stay in bed. 19 If the injured man can get up again and walk around outside with a cane, the one who hit him must not be punished. He must pay the injured man for the loss of his time and for all his medical expenses.

20 “Whenever an owner hits his male or female slave with a stick so that the slave dies from the beating, the owner must be punished. 21 But if the slave gets up in a day or two, the owner must not be punished. The slave is his property.

22 “This is what you must do whenever men fight and injure a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely. If there are no other injuries, the offender must pay whatever fine the court allows the woman’s husband to demand. 23 If anyone is injured, the offender must pay a life for a life, 24 an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, 25 a burn for a burn, a bruise for a bruise, a wound for a wound.

26 “Whenever an owner hits his male or female slave in the eye and the slave is blinded, he must let the slave go free to make up for the loss of the eye. 27 If the owner knocks out the tooth of his male or female slave, he must let the slave go free to make up for the loss of the tooth.

28 “Whenever a bull gores a man or a woman to death, the bull must be stoned to death, and its meat may not be eaten. The bull’s owner is free from any liability. 29 But if the bull has had the habit of goring, and the owner has been warned but has not kept it confined, and it kills a man or a woman, then the bull must be stoned and its owner must be put to death, too. 30 However, if only a cash settlement is demanded from the owner, the bull’s owner may save his life by paying whatever price is demanded of him. 31 If the bull gores someone’s son or daughter, this same ruling applies. 32 If the bull gores a male or female slave, its owner must pay 12 ounces of silver to the slave’s master, and the bull must be stoned.

Laws Concerning Property

33 “Whenever someone opens up a cistern or digs a new one and doesn’t cover it and a bull or a donkey falls into it, 34 the owner of the cistern must make up for the loss. He must pay money to the animal’s owner, and then the dead animal will be his.

35 “Whenever one person’s bull kills another person’s bull, they must sell the live bull and divide the money between them. They must divide the dead bull, too. 36 However, if it was known that the bull had the habit of goring, and its owner didn’t keep it confined, the owner must make up for the loss—bull for bull—and then the dead bull will be his.”


  1. Exodus 21:8 Or “master so that he does not choose her as a wife.”