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Exodus 21 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.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Exodus 21 New International Version (NIV)

21 “These are the laws you are to 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 shall go free, without paying anything. If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.

“But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then his master must take him before the judges.[a] He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.

“If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do. If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself,[b] he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. 10 If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. 11 If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.

Personal Injuries

12 “Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death. 13 However, if it is not done intentionally, but God lets it happen, they are to flee to a place I will designate. 14 But if anyone schemes and kills someone deliberately, that person is to be taken from my altar and put to death.

15 “Anyone who attacks[c] their father or mother is to be put to death.

16 “Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession.

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

18 “If people quarrel and one person hits another with a stone or with their fist[d] and the victim does not die but is confined to bed, 19 the one who struck the blow will not be held liable if the other can get up and walk around outside with a staff; however, the guilty party must pay the injured person for any loss of time and see that the victim is completely healed.

20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely[e] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for 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 “An owner who hits a male or female slave in the eye and destroys it must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye. 27 And an owner who knocks out the tooth of a male or female slave must let the slave go free to compensate for the tooth.

28 “If a bull gores a man or woman to death, the bull is to be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible. 29 If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull is to be stoned and its owner also is to be put to death. 30 However, if payment is demanded, the owner may redeem his life by the payment of whatever is demanded. 31 This law also applies if the bull gores a son or daughter. 32 If the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels[f] of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull is to be stoned to death.

33 “If anyone uncovers a pit or digs one and fails to cover it and an ox or a donkey falls into it, 34 the one who opened the pit must pay the owner for the loss and take the dead animal in exchange.

35 “If anyone’s bull injures someone else’s bull and it dies, the two parties are to sell the live one and divide both the money and the dead animal equally. 36 However, if it was known that the bull had the habit of goring, yet the owner did not keep it penned up, the owner must pay, animal for animal, and take the dead animal in exchange.

Footnotes:

  1. Exodus 21:6 Or before God
  2. Exodus 21:8 Or master so that he does not choose her
  3. Exodus 21:15 Or kills
  4. Exodus 21:18 Or with a tool
  5. Exodus 21:22 Or she has a miscarriage
  6. Exodus 21:32 That is, about 12 ounces or about 345 grams
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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