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Exodus 21Living Bible (TLB)

21 “Here are other laws you must obey:

“If you buy a Hebrew slave,[a] he shall serve only six years and be freed in the seventh year, and need pay nothing to regain his freedom.

“If he sold himself as a slave before he married, then if he married afterwards, only he shall be freed; but if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife shall be freed with him at the same time. But if his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they have sons or daughters, the wife and children shall still belong to the master, and he shall go out by himself free.

“But if the man shall plainly declare, ‘I prefer my master, my wife, and my children, and I would rather not go free,’ then his master shall bring him before the judges and shall publicly bore his ear with an awl, and after that he will be a slave forever.

“If a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, then he shall let her be bought back again; but he has no power to sell her to foreigners, since he has wronged her by no longer wanting her after marrying her. And if he arranges an engagement between a Hebrew slave girl and his son, then he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but must treat her as a daughter. 10 If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing, or fail to sleep with her as his wife. 11 If he fails in any of these three things, then she may leave freely without any payment.

12 “Anyone who hits a man so hard that he dies shall surely be put to death. 13 But if it is accidental—an act of God—and not intentional, then I will appoint a place where he can run and get protection. 14 However, if a man deliberately attacks another, intending to kill him, drag him even from my altar, and kill him.

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

16 “A kidnapper must be killed, whether he is caught in possession of his victim or has already sold him as a slave.

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

18 “If two men are fighting, and one hits the other with a stone or with his fist and injures him so that he must be confined to bed, but doesn’t die, 19 if later he is able to walk again, even with a limp,[b] the man who hit him will be innocent except that he must pay for the loss of his time until he is thoroughly healed, and pay any medical expenses.

20 “If a man beats his slave to death—whether the slave is male or female—that man shall surely be punished. 21 However, if the slave does not die for a couple of days, then the man shall not be punished—for the slave is his property.

22 “If two men are fighting, and in the process hurt a pregnant woman so that she has a miscarriage, but she lives, then the man who injured her shall be fined whatever amount the woman’s husband shall demand, and as the judges approve. 23 But if any harm comes to the woman and she dies, he shall be executed.

24 “If her eye is injured, injure his; if her tooth is knocked out, knock out his; and so on—hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, lash for lash.

26 “If a man hits his slave in the eye, whether man or woman, and the eye is blinded, then the slave shall go free because of his eye. 27 And if a master knocks out his slave’s tooth, he shall let him go free to pay for the tooth.

28 “If an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox shall be stoned and its flesh not eaten, but the owner shall not be held— 29 unless the ox was known to gore people in the past, and the owner had been notified and still the ox was not kept under control; in that case, if it kills someone, the ox shall be stoned and the owner also shall be killed. 30 But the dead man’s relatives may accept a fine instead, if they wish. The judges will determine the amount.[c]

31 “The same law holds if the ox gores a boy or a girl. 32 But if the ox gores a slave, whether male or female, the slave’s master shall be given thirty pieces of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

33 “If a man digs a well and doesn’t cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, 34 the owner of the well shall pay full damages to the owner of the animal, and the dead animal shall belong to him.

35 “If a man’s ox injures another, and it dies, then the two owners shall sell the live ox and divide the price between them—and each shall also own half of the dead ox. 36 But if the ox was known from past experience to gore, and its owner has not kept it under control, then there will not be a division of the income; but the owner of the living ox shall pay in full for the dead ox, and the dead one shall be his.

Footnotes:

  1. Exodus 21:2 If you buy a Hebrew slave, that is, “If he owes you money and defaults in the payment, and thus becomes your slave.”
  2. Exodus 21:19 if later he is able to walk again, even with a limp, literally, “if he walks abroad with his staff.”
  3. Exodus 21:30 Literally, v. 30 reads: “But if a ransom is laid upon him, he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is laid upon him.”
Living Bible (TLB)

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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