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Property Rights

22 “If a man steals an ox or sheep and kills or sells it, he shall make restitution of five oxen for an ox or four sheep for a sheep.

“If a thief is caught breaking in [after dark] and is struck [by the owner] so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him. But if the sun has risen, there will be bloodguilt for him. The thief [if he lives] must make [full] restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold [as a slave to make restitution] for his theft. If the animal that he stole is found alive in his possession, whether it is ox or donkey or sheep, he shall pay double [for it].

“If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed bare or lets his livestock loose so that it grazes in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard.

“If fire breaks out and spreads to thorn bushes so that the stacked grain or standing grain or the field is consumed, he who started the fire shall make full restitution.

“If a man gives his neighbor money or [other] goods to keep [for him while he is away] and it is stolen from the neighbor’s house, then, if the thief is caught, he shall pay double [for it]. If the thief is not caught, the owner of the house shall appear before the judges [who act in God’s name], to determine whether or not he had stolen his neighbor’s goods. For every offense involving property, whether it concerns ox, donkey, sheep, clothing, or any piece of lost property, which another identifies as his, the case of both parties shall come before the judges [who act in God’s name]. Whomever the judges pronounce guilty shall pay double to his neighbor.

10 “If a man gives his neighbor a donkey or an ox or a sheep or any [other] animal to keep [for him], and it dies or is injured or taken away while no one is looking, 11 then an oath before the Lord shall be made by the two of them that he has not taken his neighbor’s property; and the owner of it shall accept his word and not require him to make restitution. 12 But if it is actually stolen from him [when in his care], he shall make restitution to its owner. 13 If it is torn to pieces [by some predator or by accident], let him bring the mangled carcass as evidence; he shall not make restitution for what was torn to pieces.

14 “And if a man borrows an animal from his neighbor, and it gets injured or dies while its owner is not with it, the borrower shall make full restitution. 15 But if the owner is with it [when the damage is done], the borrower shall not make restitution. If it was hired, the damage is included in [the price of] its fee.

Various Laws

16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry (marriage price) for her to be his wife. 17 If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must [still] pay money equivalent to the dowry of virgins.

18 “You shall not allow a woman who practices sorcery to live.

19 “Whoever lies with an animal must be put to death.(A)

20 “He who sacrifices to any god, other than to the Lord alone, shall be put under a ban (designated) for destruction (execution).

21 “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. 22 You shall not harm or oppress any widow or fatherless child. 23 If you harm or oppress them in any way, and they cry at all to Me [for help], I will most certainly hear their cry; 24 and My wrath shall be kindled and burn; I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.

25 “If you lend money to any one of My people with you who is poor, you shall not act as a creditor (professional moneylender) to him; you shall not charge him interest. 26 If you ever take your [poor] neighbor’s robe in pledge, you must return it to him before sunset, 27 for that is his only covering; it is his clothing for his body. In what shall he sleep? And when he cries to Me [for help], I will hear him, for I am compassionate and gracious.

28 “You shall not curse God, nor curse the ruler of your people [since he administers God’s law].(B)

29 “You shall not delay the offering from your harvest and your vintage. You shall give (consecrate, dedicate) to Me the firstborn of your sons.(C) 30 You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep. It shall be with its mother for seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it [as an offering] to Me.

31 “You shall be [a]holy men to Me; therefore you shall not eat meat [from any animal] that has been torn to pieces [by predators] in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.

Various Laws

23 “You shall not give a false report; you shall not join hands with the wicked to be a malicious witness [promoting wrong and violence]. You shall not follow a crowd to do [something] evil, nor shall you testify at a trial or in a dispute so as to side with a crowd in order to pervert justice; nor shall you favor or be partial to a poor man in his dispute [simply because he is poor].

“If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey wandering off, you must bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless under its load, you shall not leave the man to deal with it [alone]; you must help him release the animal [from its burden].

“You shall not pervert (bend) the justice due to your poor in his dispute. Keep far away from a false charge or action, and do not condemn to death the innocent or the righteous, for I will not justify and acquit the guilty.

“You shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the testimony and the cause of the righteous.

“You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the soul [the feelings, thoughts, and concerns] of a stranger, for you were strangers in Egypt.

The Sabbath and Land

10 “You shall sow your land six years and harvest its yield, 11 but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie uncultivated, so that the poor among your people may eat [what the land grows naturally]; whatever they leave the animals of the field may eat. You shall do the same with your vineyard and olive grove.

12 “Six days [each week] you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall stop [working] so that your ox and your donkey may settle down and rest, and the son of your female servant, as well as your stranger, may be refreshed. 13 Now concerning everything which I have said to you, be on your guard; do not mention the name of other gods [either in a blessing or in a curse]; do not let such speech be heard [coming] from your mouth.

Three National Feasts

14 “Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast [dedicated] to Me. 15 You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. No one shall appear before Me empty-handed [but you shall bring sacrificial offerings]. 16 Also [you shall observe] the Feast of Harvest (Weeks, Pentecost, or First Fruits), acknowledging the first fruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. And [third] the Feast of Ingathering (Booths or Tabernacles) at the end of the year when you gather in [the fruit of] your labors from the field. 17 Three times a year all your males shall appear before the [b]Lord God.

18 “You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with [c]leavened bread; and the fat of My feast is not to be left overnight until morning.

19 “You shall bring the choice first fruits of your ground into the house of the Lord your God.

“You shall not [d]boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

Conquest of the Land

20 “Behold, I am going to send an [e]Angel before you to keep and guard you on the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. 21 Be on your guard before Him, listen to and obey His voice; do not be rebellious toward Him or provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgression, since My Name (authority) is in Him.(D) 22 But if you will indeed listen to and truly obey His voice and do everything that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. 23 When My Angel goes before you and brings you to [the land of] the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Canaanite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, I will reject them and completely destroy them. 24 You shall not bow down to worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do [anything] in accordance with their practices. You shall completely overthrow them and break down their [sacred] pillars and images [of pagan worship]. 25 You shall serve [only] the Lord your God, and He shall bless your bread and water. I will also remove sickness from among you. 26 No one shall suffer miscarriage or be barren in your land; [f]I will fulfill the number of your days. 27 I will send My terror ahead of you, and I will throw into confusion all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you [in flight]. 28 I will send hornets ahead of you which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite before you. 29 I will not drive them out before you in a single year, so that the land does not become desolate [due to lack of attention] and the [wild] animals of the field do not become too numerous for you. 30 I will drive them out before you little by little, until you have increased and are strong enough to take possession of the land. 31 I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines (the Mediterranean), and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates; for I will hand over the residents of the land to you, and you shall drive them out before you. 32 You shall not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33 They shall not live in your land, because they will make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it is certain to be a trap for you [resulting in judgment].”

People Affirm Their Covenant with God

24 Then God said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu (Aaron’s older sons), and seventy of Israel’s elders, and you shall worship at a [safe] distance. Moses alone shall approach the Lord, but the others shall not come near, nor shall the people come up with him.”

Then Moses came and told the people everything that the Lord had said and all the ordinances. And all the people answered with one voice, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Then he got up early in the morning, and built an altar [for worship] at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars (memorial stones) representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord. Moses took half of the blood and put it in large basins, and [the other] half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people; and they said, “Everything that the Lord has said we will do, and we will be obedient.” So Moses took the blood [which had been placed in the large basins] and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”(E)

Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up [the mountainside], 10 and they saw [a manifestation of] the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, just as clear as the sky itself.(F) 11 Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the Israelites; and they saw [the manifestation of the presence of] God, and ate and drank.(G)

12 Now the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and stay there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandments which I have written for their instruction.”(H) 13 So Moses [g]arose with Joshua his attendant, and he went up to the mountain of God. 14 And he said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Remember that Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a legal matter, let him go to them.” 15 Then Moses went up to the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The glory and brilliance of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day God called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. 17 In the sight of the Israelites the appearance of the glory and brilliance of the Lord was like consuming fire on the top of the mountain. 18 Moses entered the midst of the cloud and went up the mountain; and he was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

Footnotes

  1. Exodus 22:31 The commandments given to Israel by the Lord were designed in part to separate them from the world and identify them as His chosen people.
  2. Exodus 23:17 “Lord” with only an initial capital is Heb Adonai (Master); “God” (all caps) represents YHWH (Yahweh) and is usually rendered “Lord” (all caps).
  3. Exodus 23:18 Because leaven is a kind of fungus, it became a symbol of corruption and sin. But in some contexts it had positive connotations (e.g. Lev 23:17; Matt 13:33).
  4. Exodus 23:19 This may have been a pagan practice, perhaps a fertility rite.
  5. Exodus 23:20 “Angel” has been capitalized here to reflect the likelihood that it is God appearing in a visible form (see note Gen 16:7).
  6. Exodus 23:26 I.e. grant you long life.
  7. Exodus 24:13 The Hebrew verb “to stand” or “arise” is an instruction to prepare to fulfill a command, somewhat similar to the military command “attention.”

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