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Exodus 21-22The Message (MSG)

21 “These are the laws that you are to place before them:

2-6 “When you buy a Hebrew slave, he will serve six years. The

seventh year he goes free, for nothing. If he came in single he leaves single. If he came in married he leaves with his wife. If the master gives him a wife and she gave him sons and daughters, the wife and children stay with the master and he leaves by himself. But suppose the slave should say, ‘I love my master and my wife and children—I don’t want my freedom,’ then his master is to bring him before God and to a door or doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl, a sign that he is a slave for life.

7-11 “When a man sells his daughter to be a handmaid, she doesn’t go free after six years like the men. If she doesn’t please her master, her family must buy her back; her master doesn’t have the right to sell her to foreigners since he broke his word to her. If he turns her over to his son, he has to treat her like a daughter. If he marries another woman, she retains all her full rights to meals, clothing, and marital relations. If he won’t do any of these three things for her, she goes free, for nothing.

12-14 “If someone hits another and death results, the penalty is death. But if there was no intent to kill—if it was an accident, an ‘act of God’—I’ll set aside a place to which the killer can flee for refuge. But if the murder was premeditated, cunningly plotted, then drag the killer away, even if it’s from my Altar, to be put to death.

15 “If someone hits father or mother, the penalty is death.

16 “If someone kidnaps a person, the penalty is death, regardless of whether the person has been sold or is still held in possession.

17 “If someone curses father or mother, the penalty is death.

18-19 “If a quarrel breaks out and one hits the other with a rock or a fist and the injured one doesn’t die but is confined to bed and then later gets better and can get about on a crutch, the one who hit him is in the clear, except to pay for the loss of time and make sure of complete recovery.

20-21 “If a slave owner hits a slave, male or female, with a stick and the slave dies on the spot, the slave must be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he’s not to be avenged—the slave is the owner’s property.

22-25 “When there’s a fight and in the fight a pregnant woman is hit so that she miscarries but is not otherwise hurt, the one responsible has to pay whatever the husband demands in compensation. But if there is further damage, then you must give life for life—eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

26-27 “If a slave owner hits the eye of a slave or handmaid and ruins it, the owner must let the slave go free because of the eye. If the owner knocks out the tooth of the male or female slave, the slave must be released and go free because of the tooth.

28-32 “If an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox must be stoned. The meat cannot be eaten but the owner of the ox is in the clear. But if the ox has a history of goring and the owner knew it and did nothing to guard against it, then if the ox kills a man or a woman, the ox is to be stoned and the owner given the death penalty. If a ransom is agreed upon instead of death, he must pay it in full as a redemption for his life. If a son or daughter is gored, the same judgment holds. If it is a slave or a handmaid the ox gores, thirty shekels of silver is to be paid to the owner and the ox stoned.

33-34 “If someone uncovers a cistern or digs a pit and leaves it open and an ox or donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit must pay whatever the animal is worth to its owner but can keep the dead animal.

35-36 “If someone’s ox injures a neighbor’s ox and the ox dies, they must sell the live ox and split the price; they must also split the dead animal. But if the ox had a history of goring and the owner knew it and did nothing to guard against it, the owner must pay an ox for an ox but can keep the dead animal.”

22 1-3 “If someone steals an ox or a lamb and slaughters or sells it, the thief must pay five cattle in place of the ox and four sheep in place of the lamb. If the thief is caught while breaking in and is hit hard and dies, there is no bloodguilt. But if it happens after daybreak, there is bloodguilt.

3-4 “A thief must make full restitution for what is stolen. The thief who is unable to pay is to be sold for his thieving. If caught red-handed with the stolen goods, and the ox or donkey or lamb is still alive, the thief pays double.

“If someone grazes livestock in a field or vineyard but lets them loose so they graze in someone else’s field, restitution must be made from the best of the owner’s field or vineyard.

“If fire breaks out and spreads to the brush so that the sheaves of grain or the standing grain or even the whole field is burned up, whoever started the fire must pay for the damages.

7-8 “If someone gives a neighbor money or things for safekeeping and they are stolen from the neighbor’s house, the thief, if caught, must pay back double. If the thief is not caught, the owner must be brought before God to determine whether the owner was the one who took the neighbor’s goods.

“In all cases of stolen goods, whether oxen, donkeys, sheep, clothing, anything in fact missing of which someone says, ‘That’s mine,’ both parties must come before the judges. The one the judges pronounce guilty must pay double to the other.

10-13 “If someone gives a donkey or ox or lamb or any kind of animal to another for safekeeping and it dies or is injured or lost and there is no witness, an oath before God must be made between them to decide whether one has laid hands on the property of the other. The owner must accept this and no damages are assessed. But if it turns out it was stolen, the owner must be compensated. If it has been torn by wild beasts, the torn animal must be brought in as evidence; no damages have to be paid.

14-15 “If someone borrows an animal from a neighbor and it gets injured or dies while the owner is not present, he must pay for it. But if the owner was with it, he doesn’t have to pay. If the animal was hired, the payment covers the loss.

16-17 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the marriage price and marry her. If her father absolutely refuses to give her away, the man must still pay the marriage price for virgins.

18 “Don’t let a sorceress live.

19 “Anyone who has sex with an animal gets the death penalty.

20 “Anyone who sacrifices to a god other than God alone must be put to death.

21 “Don’t abuse or take advantage of strangers; you, remember, were once strangers in Egypt.

22-24 “Don’t mistreat widows or orphans. If you do and they cry out to me, you can be sure I’ll take them most seriously; I’ll show my anger and come raging among you with the sword, and your wives will end up widows and your children orphans.

25 “If you lend money to my people, to any of the down-and-out among you, don’t come down hard on them and gouge them with interest.

26-27 “If you take your neighbor’s coat as security, give it back before nightfall; it may be your neighbor’s only covering—what else does the person have to sleep in? And if I hear the neighbor crying out from the cold, I’ll step in—I’m compassionate.

28 “Don’t curse God; and don’t damn your leaders.

29-30 “Don’t be stingy as your wine vats fill up.

“Dedicate your firstborn sons to me. The same with your cattle and sheep—they are to stay for seven days with their mother, then give them to me.

31 “Be holy for my sake.

“Don’t eat mutilated flesh you find in the fields; throw it to the dogs.”

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Matthew 19The Message (MSG)

Divorce

19 1-2 When Jesus had completed these teachings, he left Galilee and crossed the region of Judea on the other side of the Jordan. Great crowds followed him there, and he healed them.

One day the Pharisees were badgering him: “Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?”

4-6 He answered, “Haven’t you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming one flesh—no longer two bodies but one. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.”

They shot back in rebuttal, “If that’s so, why did Moses give instructions for divorce papers and divorce procedures?”

8-9 Jesus said, “Moses provided for divorce as a concession to your hard heartedness, but it is not part of God’s original plan. I’m holding you to the original plan, and holding you liable for adultery if you divorce your faithful wife and then marry someone else. I make an exception in cases where the spouse has committed adultery.”

10 Jesus’ disciples objected, “If those are the terms of marriage, we’re stuck. Why get married?”

11-12 But Jesus said, “Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.”

To Enter God’s Kingdom

13-15 One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, he left.

16 Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

17 Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.”

18-19 The man asked, “What in particular?”

Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.”

20 The young man said, “I’ve done all that. What’s left?”

21 “If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.”

22 That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.

23-24 As he watched him go, Jesus told his disciples, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God’s kingdom? Let me tell you, it’s easier to gallop a camel through a needle’s eye than for the rich to enter God’s kingdom.”

25 The disciples were staggered. “Then who has any chance at all?”

26 Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”

27 Then Peter chimed in, “We left everything and followed you. What do we get out of it?”

28-30 Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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