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Exodus 21-24 Common English Bible (CEB)

Instructions about slaves

21 These are the case laws that you should set before them:

When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he will serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he will go free without any payment. If he came in single, he will leave single. If he came in married, then his wife will leave with him. If his master gave him a wife and she bore him sons or daughters, the wife and her children will belong to her master. He will leave single. However, if the slave clearly states, “I love my master, my wife, and my children, and I don’t want to go free,” then his master will bring him before God. He will bring him to the door or the doorpost. There his master will pierce his ear with a pointed tool, and he will serve him as his slave for life.

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shouldn’t be set free in the same way as male slaves are set free. If she doesn’t please her master who chose her for himself, then her master must let her be bought back by her family. He has no right to sell her to a foreign people since he has treated her unfairly. If he assigns her to his son, he must give her the rights of a daughter. 10 If he takes another woman for himself, he may not reduce her food, clothing, or marital rights. 11 If he doesn’t do these three things for her, she will go free without any payment, for no money.

Instructions about human violence

12 Anyone who hits and kills someone should be put to death. 13 If the killing wasn’t on purpose but an accident allowed by God, then I will designate a place to which the killer can run away. 14 But if someone plots and kills another person on purpose, you should remove the killer from my altar and put him to death.

15 Anyone who violently hits their father or mother should be put to death.

16 Anyone who kidnaps a person, whether they have been sold or are still being held, should be put to death.

17 Anyone who curses their father or mother should be put to death.

18 When two people are fighting and one hits the other with a stone or with his fist so that he is in bed for a while but doesn’t die— 19 if he recovers and is able to walk around outside with a cane, then the one who hit him shouldn’t be punished, except to pay for the loss of time from work and to pay for his full recovery.

20 When a slave owner hits a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner should be punished. 21 But if the slave gets up after a day or two, the slave owner shouldn’t be punished because the slave is the owner’s property.

22 When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that she has a miscarriage but no other injury occurs, then the guilty party will be fined what the woman’s husband demands, as negotiated with the judges. 23 If there is further injury, then you will give 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 When a slave owner hits and blinds the eye of a male or female slave, he should let the slave go free on account of the eye. 27 If he knocks out a tooth of a male or female slave, he should let the slave go free on account of the tooth.

Instructions about animals and property

28 When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox should be stoned to death, and the meat of the ox shouldn’t be eaten. But the owner of the ox shouldn’t be punished. 29 However, if the ox had gored people in the past and its owner had been warned but didn’t watch out for it, and the ox ends up killing a man or a woman, then the ox should be stoned to death, and its owner should also be put to death. 30 If the owner has to pay compensation instead, he must pay the agreed amount to save his life. 31 If the ox gores a boy or a girl, this same case law applies to the owner. 32 If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner will pay thirty silver shekels to the slave’s owner, and the ox will be stoned to death.

33 When someone leaves a pit open or digs a pit and doesn’t cover it and an ox or a donkey falls into the pit, 34 the owner of the pit must make good on the loss. He should pay money to the ox’s owner, but he may keep the dead animal.

35 When someone’s ox hurts someone else’s ox and it dies, then they should sell the live ox and divide its price. They should also divide the dead animal between them. 36 But if the ox was known for goring in the past and its owner hadn’t watched out for it, the owner must make good the loss, an ox for an ox, but may keep the dead animal.

22 [a] When someone steals an ox or a sheep and then slaughters or sells it, the thief must pay back five oxen for the one ox or four sheep for the one sheep.

[b] If the thief is caught breaking in and is beaten and dies, the one who killed him won’t be guilty of bloodshed. However, if this happens in broad daylight, then the one who killed him is guilty of bloodshed. For his part, the thief must make good on what he stole. If he has nothing, he must be sold to pay for his theft. If an animal (whether ox, donkey, or sheep) is found alive in the thief’s possession, he must pay back double.

When someone lets an animal loose to eat in another person’s field and causes the field or vineyard to be stripped of its crop, the owner must pay them back with the best from his own field or vineyard.

When someone starts a fire and it catches in thorns and then spreads to someone else’s stacked grain, standing grain, or a whole field, the one who started the fire must fully repay the loss.

When someone entrusts money or other items to another person to keep safe and they are stolen from the other person’s house and the thief is caught, the thief must pay back double. If the thief isn’t caught, the owner of the house should be brought before God to determine whether or not the owner stole the other’s property.

When any dispute of ownership over an ox, donkey, sheep, piece of clothing, or any other loss arises in which someone claims, “This is mine,” the cases of both parties should come before God. The one whom God finds at fault must pay double to the other.

10 When someone gives a donkey, ox, sheep, or any other animal to another person to keep safe, and the animal dies or is injured or taken and no one saw what happened, 11 the person should swear a solemn pledge before the Lord in the presence of the owner that he didn’t touch the other’s property. The owner must accept that, and no payment needs to be made. 12 But if the animal was stolen, the person must make full payment to its owner. 13 If the animal was attacked and ripped apart and its torn body is brought as evidence, no payment needs to be made.

14 When someone borrows an animal from another and it is injured or dies while the owner isn’t present, full payment must be made. 15 If the owner was present, no payment needs to be made. If the animal was hired, only the fee for hiring the animal is due.

Instructions about social and religious matters

16 When a man seduces a young woman who isn’t engaged to be married yet and he sleeps with her, he must marry her and pay the bride-price for her. 17 But if her father absolutely refuses to let them marry, he must still pay the same amount as the bride-price for young women.

18 Don’t allow a female sorcerer to live.

19 Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal should be put to death.

20 Anyone who offers sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, should be destroyed.

21 Don’t mistreat or oppress an immigrant, because you were once immigrants in the land of Egypt. 22 Don’t treat any widow or orphan badly. 23 If you do treat them badly and they cry out to me, you can be sure that I’ll hear their cry. 24 I’ll be furious, and I’ll kill you with the sword. Then your wives will be widows, and your children will be orphans.

25 If you lend money to my people who are poor among you, don’t be a creditor and charge them interest. 26 If you take a piece of clothing from someone as a security deposit, you should return it before the sun goes down. 27 His clothing may well be his only blanket to cover himself. What else will that person have to sleep in? And if he cries out to me, I’ll listen, because I’m compassionate.

28 Don’t say a curse against God, and don’t curse your people’s chief.

29 Don’t delay offering the produce of your vineyards and winepresses. Give me your oldest son. 30 Do the same with your oxen and with your sheep. They should stay with their mother for seven days. On the eighth day, you should give them to me.

31 You are holy people to me. Don’t eat any meat killed by wild animals out in the field. Throw it to the dogs instead.

23 Don’t spread false rumors. Don’t plot with evil people to act as a lying witness. Don’t take sides with important people to do wrong. When you act as a witness, don’t stretch the truth to favor important people. But don’t privilege unimportant people in their lawsuits either.

When you happen to come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey that has wandered off, you should bring it back to them.

When you see a donkey that belongs to someone who hates you and it’s lying down under its load and you are inclined not to help set it free, you must help set it free.

Don’t undermine the justice that your poor deserve in their lawsuits. Stay away from making a false charge. Don’t put an innocent person who is in the right to death, because I will not consider innocent those who do such evil. Don’t take a bribe, because a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.

Don’t oppress an immigrant. You know what it’s like to be an immigrant, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt.

Sabbaths and festivals

10 For six years you should plant crops on your land and gather in its produce. 11 But in the seventh year you should leave it alone and undisturbed so that the poor among your people may eat. What they leave behind, the wild animals may eat. You should do the same with your vineyard and your olive trees.

12 Do your work in six days. But on the seventh day you should rest so that your ox and donkey may rest, and even the child of your female slave and the immigrant may be refreshed.

13 Be careful to obey everything that I have said to you. Don’t call on the names of other gods. Don’t even mention them.

14 You should observe a festival for me three times a year. 15 Observe the Festival of Unleavened Bread, as I commanded you. Eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib,[c] because it was in that month that you came out of Egypt.

No one should appear before me empty-handed. 16 Observe the Harvest Festival for the early produce of your crops that you planted in the field, and the Gathering Festival at the end of the year, when you gather your crop of fruit from the field. 17 All your males should appear three times a year before the Lord God.

18 Don’t offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened. Don’t let the fat of my festival offering be left over until the morning.

19 Bring the best of your land’s early produce to the Lord your God’s temple.

Don’t boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

God’s promise: messenger and land

20 I’m about to send a messenger in front of you to guard you on your way and to bring you to the place that I’ve made ready. 21 Pay attention to him and do as he says. Don’t rebel against him. He won’t forgive the things you do wrong because I[d] am with him. 22 But if you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, then I’ll be an enemy to your enemies and fight those fighting you.

23 When my messenger goes in front of you and brings you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I wipe them out, 24 don’t bow down to their gods, worship them, or do what they do. Instead, you should completely destroy them and smash their sacred stone pillars to bits. 25 If you worship the Lord your God, the Lord will bless your bread and your water. I’ll take sickness away from you, 26 and no woman will miscarry or be infertile in your land. I’ll let you live a full, long life. 27 My terrifying reputation will precede you, and I’ll throw all the people that you meet into a panic. I’ll make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28 I’ll send insect swarms in front of you and drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you. 29 I won’t drive them out before you in a single year so the land won’t be abandoned and the wild animals won’t multiply around you. 30 I’ll drive them out before you little by little, until your numbers grow and you eventually possess the land. 31 I’ll set your borders from the Reed Sea[e] to the Philistine Sea and from the desert to the River. I’ll hand the inhabitants of the land over to you, and you will drive them out before you. 32 Don’t make any covenants with them or their gods. 33 Don’t allow them to live in your land, or else they will lead you to sin against me. If you worship their gods, it will become a dangerous trap for you.

Covenant at Sinai

24 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of Israel’s elders, and worship from a distance. Only Moses may come near to the Lord. The others shouldn’t come near, while the people shouldn’t come up with him at all.”

Moses came and told the people all the Lord’s words and all the case laws. All the people answered in unison, “Everything that the Lord has said we will do.” Moses then wrote down all the Lord’s words. He got up early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain. He set up twelve sacred stone pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. He appointed certain young Israelite men to offer entirely burned offerings and slaughter oxen as well-being sacrifices to the Lord. Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls. The other half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the covenant scroll and read it out loud for the people to hear. They responded, “Everything that the Lord has said we will do, and we will obey.”

Moses then took the blood and threw it over the people. Moses said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord now makes with you on the basis of all these words.”

Covenant meal with God

Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw Israel’s God. Under God’s feet there was what looked like a floor of lapis-lazuli tiles, dazzlingly pure like the sky. 11 God didn’t harm the Israelite leaders, though they looked at God, and they ate and drank.

12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there. I’ll give you the stone tablets with the instructions and the commandments that I’ve written in order to teach them.”

13 So Moses and his assistant Joshua got up, and Moses went up God’s mountain. 14 Moses had said to the elders, “Wait for us here until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur will be here with you. Whoever has a legal dispute may go to them.”

15 Then Moses went up the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The Lord’s glorious presence settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from the cloud. 17 To the Israelites, the Lord’s glorious presence looked like a blazing fire on top of the mountain. 18 Moses entered the cloud and went up the mountain. Moses stayed on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

Footnotes:

  1. Exodus 22:1 21:37 in Heb
  2. Exodus 22:2 22:1 in Heb
  3. Exodus 23:15 March–April, named Nisan after the exile
  4. Exodus 23:21 Or my name
  5. Exodus 23:31 Or Red Sea
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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