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Exodus 21:1-24:8New English Translation (NET Bible)

The Decisions

21 “These are the decisions that you will set before them:

Hebrew Servants

“If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years, but in the seventh year he will go out free without paying anything. If he came in by himself he will go out by himself; if he had a wife when he came in, then his wife will go out with him. If his master gave him a wife, and she bore sons or daughters, the wife and the children will belong to her master, and he will go out by himself. But if the servant should declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master must bring him to the judges, and he will bring him to the door or the doorposts, and his master will pierce his ear with an awl, and he shall serve him forever.

“If a man sells his daughter as a female servant, she will not go out as the male servants do. If she does not please her master, who has designated her for himself, then he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to a foreign nation, because he has dealt deceitfully with her. If he designated her for his son, then he will deal with her according to the customary rights of daughters. 10 If he takes another wife, he must not diminish the first one’s food, her clothing, or her marital rights. 11 If he does not provide her with these three things, then she will go out free, without paying money.

Personal Injuries

12 “Whoever strikes someone so that he dies must surely be put to death. 13 But if he does not do it with premeditation, but it happens by accident, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee. 14 But if a man willfully attacks his neighbor to kill him cunningly, you will take him even from my altar that he may die.

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

16 “Whoever kidnaps someone and sells him, or is caught still holding him, must surely be put to death.

17 “Whoever treats his father or his mother disgracefully must surely be put to death.

18 “If men fight, and one strikes his neighbor with a stone or with his fist and he does not die, but must remain in bed, 19 and then if he gets up and walks about outside on his staff, then the one who struck him is innocent, except he must pay for the injured person’s loss of time and see to it that he is fully healed.

20 “If a man strikes his male servant or his female servant with a staff so that he or she dies as a result of the blow, he will surely be punished. 21 However, if the injured servant survives one or two days, the owner will not be punished, for he has suffered the loss.

22  “If men fight and hit a pregnant woman and her child is born prematurely, but there is no serious injury, he will surely be punished in accordance with what the woman’s husband demands of him, and he will pay what the court decides. 23 But if there is serious injury, then you will give a life for a life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

26 “If a man strikes the eye of his male servant or his female servant so that he destroys it, he will let the servant go free as compensation for the eye. 27 If he knocks out the tooth of his male servant or his female servant, he will let the servant go free as compensation for the tooth.

Laws about Animals

28 “If an ox gores a man or a woman so that either dies, then the ox must surely be stoned and its flesh must not be eaten, but the owner of the ox will be acquitted. 29 But if the ox had the habit of goring, and its owner was warned, and he did not take the necessary precautions, and then it killed a man or a woman, the ox must be stoned and the man must be put to death. 30 If a ransom is set for him, then he must pay the redemption for his life according to whatever amount was set for him. 31 If the ox gores a son or a daughter, the owner will be dealt with according to this rule. 32 If the ox gores a male servant or a female servant, the owner must pay thirty shekels of silver, and the ox must be stoned.

33 “If a man opens a pit or if a man digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, 34 the owner of the pit must repay the loss. He must give money to its owner, and the dead animal will become his. 35 If the ox of one man injures the ox of his neighbor so that it dies, then they will sell the live ox and divide its proceeds, and they will also divide the dead ox. 36 Or if it is known that the ox had the habit of goring, and its owner did not take the necessary precautions, he must surely pay ox for ox, and the dead animal will become his.

Laws about Property

22 (21:37) “If a man steals an ox or a sheep and kills it or sells it, he must pay back five head of cattle for the ox, and four sheep for the one sheep.

“If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there will be no blood guilt for him. If the sun has risen on him, then there is blood guilt for him. A thief must surely make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he will be sold for his theft. If the stolen item should in fact be found alive in his possession, whether it be an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he must pay back double.

“If a man grazes his livestock in a field or a vineyard, and he lets the livestock loose and they graze in the field of another man, he must make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard.

“If a fire breaks out and spreads to thorn bushes, so that stacked grain or standing grain or the whole field is consumed, the one who started the fire must surely make restitution.

“If a man gives his neighbor money or articles for safekeeping, and it is stolen from the man’s house, if the thief is caught, he must repay double. If the thief is not caught, then the owner of the house will be brought before the judges to see whether he has laid his hand on his neighbor’s goods. In all cases of illegal possessions, whether for an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any kind of lost item, about which someone says ‘This belongs to me,’ the matter of the two of them will come before the judges, and the one whom the judges declare guilty must repay double to his neighbor. 10 If a man gives his neighbor a donkey or an ox or a sheep or any beast to keep, and it dies or is hurt or is carried away without anyone seeing it, 11 then there will be an oath to the Lord between the two of them, that he has not laid his hand on his neighbor’s goods, and its owner will accept this, and he will not have to pay. 12 But if it was stolen from him, he will pay its owner. 13 If it is torn in pieces, then he will bring it for evidence, and he will not have to pay for what was torn.

14 “If a man borrows an animal from his neighbor, and it is hurt or dies when its owner was not with it, the man who borrowed it will surely pay. 15 If its owner was with it, he will not have to pay; if it was hired, what was paid for the hire covers it.

Moral and Ceremonial Laws

16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged and has sexual relations with her, he must surely endow her to be his wife. 17 If her father refuses to give her to him, he must pay money for the bride price of virgins.

18 “You must not allow a sorceress to live.

19 “Whoever has sexual relations with a beast must surely be put to death.

20 “Whoever sacrifices to a god other than the Lord alone must be utterly destroyed.

21 “You must not wrong a foreigner nor oppress him, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.

22 “You must not afflict any widow or orphan. 23 If you afflict them in any way and they cry to me, I will surely hear their cry, 24 and my anger will burn and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children will be fatherless.

25 “If you lend money to any of my people who are needy among you, do not be like a moneylender to him; do not charge him interest. 26 If you do take the garment of your neighbor in pledge, you must return it to him by the time the sun goes down, 27 for it is his only covering—it is his garment for his body. What else can he sleep in? And when he cries out to me, I will hear, for I am gracious.

28 “You must not blaspheme God or curse the ruler of your people.

29 “Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats. You must give me the firstborn of your sons. 30 You must also do this for your oxen and for your sheep; seven days they may remain with their mothers, but give them to me on the eighth day.

31 “You will be holy people to me; you must not eat any meat torn by animals in the field. You must throw it to the dogs.

Justice

23 “You must not give a false report. Do not make common cause with the wicked to be a malicious witness.

“You must not follow a crowd in doing evil things; in a lawsuit you must not offer testimony that agrees with a crowd so as to pervert justice, and you must not show partiality to a poor man in his lawsuit.

“If you encounter your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, you must by all means return it to him. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen under its load, you must not ignore him, but be sure to help him with it.

“You must not turn away justice for your poor people in their lawsuits. Keep your distance from a false charge—do not kill the innocent and the righteous, for I will not justify the wicked.

“You must not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and subverts the words of the righteous.

“You must not oppress a foreigner, since you know the life of a foreigner, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.

Sabbaths and Feasts

10 “For six years you are to sow your land and gather in its produce. 11 But in the seventh year you must let it lie fallow and leave it alone so that the poor of your people may eat, and what they leave any animal in the field may eat; you must do likewise with your vineyard and your olive grove. 12 For six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you must cease, in order that your ox and your donkey may rest and that your female servant’s son and any hired help may refresh themselves.

13 “Pay attention to do everything I have told you, and do not even mention the names of other gods—do not let them be heard on your lips.

14 “Three times in the year you must make a pilgrim feast to me. 15 You are to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; seven days you must eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you, at the appointed time of the month of Abib, for at that time you came out of Egypt. No one may appear before me empty-handed.

16 “You are also to observe the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors that you have sown in the field, and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year when you have gathered in your harvest out of the field. 17 At three times in the year all your males will appear before the Lord God.

18 “You must not offer the blood of my sacrifice with bread containing yeast; the fat of my festal sacrifice must not remain until morning. 19 The first of the firstfruits of your soil you must bring to the house of the Lord your God.

“You must not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.

The Angel of the Presence

20 “I am going to send an angel before you to protect you as you journey and to bring you into the place that I have prepared. 21 Take heed because of him, and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in him. 22 But if you diligently obey him and do all that I command, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will be an adversary to your adversaries. 23 For my angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I will destroy them completely.

24 “You must not bow down to their gods; you must not serve them or do according to their practices. Instead you must completely overthrow them and smash their standing stones to pieces. 25 You must serve the Lord your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will remove sickness from your midst. 26 No woman will miscarry her young or be barren in your land. I will fulfill the number of your days.

27 “I will send my terror before you, and I will destroy all the people whom you encounter; I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28 I will send hornets before you that will drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite before you. 29 I will not drive them out before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild animals multiply against you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you become fruitful and inherit the land. 31 I will set your boundaries from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River, for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you.

32 “You must make no covenant with them or with their gods. 33 They must not live in your land, lest they make you sin against me, for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”

The Lord Ratifies the Covenant

24 But to Moses the Lord said, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from a distance. Moses alone may come near the Lord, but the others must not come near, nor may the people go up with him.”

Moses came and told the people all the Lord’s words and all the decisions. All the people answered together, “We are willing to do all the words that the Lord has said,” and Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Early in the morning he built an altar at the foot of the mountain and arranged twelve standing stones—according to the twelve tribes of Israel. He sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls for peace offerings to the Lord. Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and half of the blood he splashed on the altar. He took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people, and they said, “We are willing to do and obey all that the Lord has spoken.” So Moses took the blood and splashed it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

New English Translation (NET)

NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://netbible.com All rights reserved.

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