New International Reader's Version

Exodus 21

Other Laws

1“Here are the laws you must explain to the people of Israel.

Set Your Hebrew Servants Free

“Suppose you buy a Hebrew servant. He must serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, you must set him free. He does not have to pay anything. If he does not have a wife when he comes, he must go free alone. But if he has a wife when he comes, she must go with him. Suppose his master gives him a wife. And suppose she has sons or daughters by him. Then only the man will go free. The woman and her children will belong to her master.

“But suppose the servant says, ‘I love my master and my wife and children. I don’t want to go free.’ Then his master must take him to the judges. His master must take him to the door or doorpost of his master’s house. His master must poke a hole through his servant’s earlobe into the door or doorpost. Then he will become his servant for life.

“Suppose a man sells his daughter as a servant. Then she can’t go free as male servants do. But what if the master who has chosen her does not like her? Then he must let the man buy her back. He has no right to sell her to strangers. He has broken his promise to her. What if he chooses her to marry his son? Then he must grant her the rights of a daughter. 10 What if her master marries another woman? He must still give the first one her food and clothes and sleep with her. 11 If he does not provide her with those three things, she can go free. She does not have to pay anything.

Laws About Harming Others

12 “Anyone who hits and kills someone else must be put to death. 13 Suppose they did not do it on purpose. Suppose I let it happen. Then they can escape to a place I will choose. 14 But suppose they kill someone on purpose. Then take them away from my altar and put them to death.

15 “Anyone who attacks their father or mother must be put to death.

16 “Anyone who kidnaps and sells another person must be put to death. If they still have the person with them when they are caught, they must be put to death.

17 “Anyone who asks for something bad to happen to their father or mother must be put to death.

18 “Suppose two people get into a fight and argue with each other. One hits the other with a stone or his fist. And the person who was hit does not die but has to stay in bed. 19 And later that person gets up and walks around outside with a walking stick. Then the person who hit the other person will not be held responsible. But that person must pay the one who was hurt for the time spent in bed. The one who hit the other person must be sure that person is completely healed.

20 “Suppose a person beats their male or female slave to death with a club. That person must be punished. 21 But they will not be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two. After all, the slave is their property.

22 “Suppose some people are fighting and one of them hits a pregnant woman. And suppose she has her baby early but is not badly hurt. Then the one who hurt her must pay a fine. That person must pay what the woman’s husband asks for and the court allows. 23 But if someone is badly hurt, a life must be taken for a life. 24 An eye must be put out for an eye. A tooth must be knocked out for a tooth. A hand must be cut off for a hand and a foot for a foot. 25 A burn must be given for a burn, a wound for a wound, and a bruise for a bruise.

26 “Suppose an owner hits a male or female slave in the eye and destroys it. Then the owner must let the slave go free to pay for the eye. 27 Suppose an owner knocks out the tooth of a male or female slave. Then he must let the slave go free to pay for the tooth.

28 “Suppose a bull kills a man or woman with its horns. Then you must kill the bull by throwing stones at it. Its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held accountable. 29 But suppose the bull has had the habit of attacking people. And suppose the owner has been warned but has not kept it fenced in. Then if it kills a man or woman, you must kill it with stones. The owner must also be put to death. 30 But suppose payment is required of him instead. Then the owner can save his life by paying what is required. 31 The same law applies if the bull wounds a son or daughter with its horns. 32 Suppose the bull wounds a male or female slave. Then the owner must pay the slave’s master about 12 ounces of silver. You must kill the bull with stones.

33 “Suppose someone uncovers a pit or digs one and does not cover it. And suppose an ox or donkey falls into it. 34 Then the person who opened the pit must pay the animal’s owner for the loss. The dead animal will belong to the person who opened the pit.

35 “Suppose someone’s bull wounds a neighbor’s bull and it dies. Then the owner and the neighbor must sell the live one. And they must share the money and the dead animal equally. 36 But suppose people knew that the bull had the habit of attacking. And suppose the owner did not keep it fenced in. Then the owner must give another animal to pay for the dead animal. And the dead animal will belong to the owner.