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Exodus 21 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

Laws Concerning the Treatment of Slaves

21 ⌞The Lord continued,⌟ “Here are the legal decisions to be used by the Israelites:

“Whenever you buy a Hebrew slave, he will be your slave for six years. In the seventh year he may leave as a free man, without paying for his freedom. If he comes to you by himself, he must leave by himself. If he comes as a married man, his wife may leave with him. If his master gives him a wife and she gives birth to sons or daughters, the wife and her children belong to the master, and the slave must leave by himself. But if he makes this statement: ‘I hereby declare my love for my master, my wife, and my children. I don’t want to leave as a free man,’ then his master must bring him to God. The master must bring him to the door or the doorframe and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his slave for life.

“Whenever a man sells his daughter into slavery, she will not go free the way male slaves do. If she doesn’t please the master who has chosen her as a wife,[a] he must let her be bought back by one of her close relatives. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, since he has treated her unfairly. But if he has chosen her for his son, he must treat her like a daughter. 10 If that son marries another woman, he must not deprive the first wife of food, clothes, or sex. 11 If he doesn’t give her these three things, she can go free, without paying any money for her freedom.

Laws Concerning Injury to People

12 “Whoever strikes someone and kills him must be put to death. 13 If it wasn’t done intentionally, but God let it happen, the killer should flee to a place I will set aside for you. 14 But whenever someone becomes so angry that he plans to kill his neighbor, you must take him away from my altar and put him to death.

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

16 “Whoever kidnaps another person must be put to death, whether he has sold the kidnapped person or still has him.

17 “Whoever curses his father or mother must be put to death.

18 “This is what you must do whenever men quarrel and one hits the other with a rock or with his fist and injures him so that he has to stay in bed. 19 If the injured man can get up again and walk around outside with a cane, the one who hit him must not be punished. He must pay the injured man for the loss of his time and for all his medical expenses.

20 “Whenever an owner hits his male or female slave with a stick so that the slave dies from the beating, the owner must be punished. 21 But if the slave gets up in a day or two, the owner must not be punished. The slave is his property.

22 “This is what you must do whenever men fight and injure a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely. If there are no other injuries, the offender must pay whatever fine the court allows the woman’s husband to demand. 23 If anyone is injured, the offender must pay 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 “Whenever an owner hits his male or female slave in the eye and the slave is blinded, he must let the slave go free to make up for the loss of the eye. 27 If the owner knocks out the tooth of his male or female slave, he must let the slave go free to make up for the loss of the tooth.

28 “Whenever a bull gores a man or a woman to death, the bull must be stoned to death, and its meat may not be eaten. The bull’s owner is free from any liability. 29 But if the bull has had the habit of goring, and the owner has been warned but has not kept it confined, and it kills a man or a woman, then the bull must be stoned and its owner must be put to death, too. 30 However, if only a cash settlement is demanded from the owner, the bull’s owner may save his life by paying whatever price is demanded of him. 31 If the bull gores someone’s son or daughter, this same ruling applies. 32 If the bull gores a male or female slave, its owner must pay 12 ounces of silver to the slave’s master, and the bull must be stoned.

Laws Concerning Property

33 “Whenever someone opens up a cistern or digs a new one and doesn’t cover it and a bull or a donkey falls into it, 34 the owner of the cistern must make up for the loss. He must pay money to the animal’s owner, and then the dead animal will be his.

35 “Whenever one person’s bull kills another person’s bull, they must sell the live bull and divide the money between them. They must divide the dead bull, too. 36 However, if it was known that the bull had the habit of goring, and its owner didn’t keep it confined, the owner must make up for the loss—bull for bull—and then the dead bull will be his.”

Footnotes:

  1. 21:8 Or “master so that he does not choose her as a wife.”
GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

Copyright © 1995, 2003, 2013, 2014, 2019, 2020 by God’s Word to the Nations Mission Society. All rights reserved.

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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