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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 21

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

Verses 1-36

CHAPTER 21 Different Judgments

1. Master and servant (Exodus 21:1-11 )

2. Concerning injury to the person (Exodus 21:12-32 )

3. Concerning property (Exodus 21:33-36 )

The Three Chapters which follow the giving of the Ten Commandments give the practical application of the Decalogue in the daily life. The duties towards the fellowman are demonstrated in part. There are seven sections to these three chapters; each section contains ten precepts.

The servant occupies the first place. He was to obtain his freedom for nothing after serving six years. In Deuteronomy we read that the master is commanded not to let him go empty-handed, but give him of his flock, his threshing floor and his winepress. In this Israel was to remember their own deliverance from the house of bondage (Deuteronomy 15:12-18 ). If the servant chose to remain with his master forever, his ear was to be bored through as the sign of perpetual servitude. This was a custom in other nations as well and signified that the servant was, as it were, fastened by the awl to the house (Deuteronomy 15:17 ).

The Hebrew servant is put so prominently in the foreground because the Son of God became a servant and has chosen the perpetual service. Psalms 40:6 and Hebrews 10:5 show that it is typical of the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice what it says in our chapter: “And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife and my children, I will not go out free.” It was love which decided the Hebrew servant to be a servant forever. And it was love which brought Him to this earth to do the Father’s will, and love for the church. “He loved the church and gave Himself for it.” And He loves us as individuals. This corresponds to the love of the servant to his wife and his children. Christ was a servant on earth; He is serving in glory now as the priest and advocate of His people, and in glory “He will gird Himself ... and will come forth and serve them” (Luke 12:37 ).

This is followed by judgments concerning the injury of a person. Injury of a person had to be punished in a manner corresponding to the injury. The principle of retribution is marked throughout these laws. Smiting father or mother, man-stealing, and cursing the parents was punishable with death. Many pages might be written to follow these laws in detail. Read Exodus 21:23-27 , and compare with Matthew 5:38-48 .

Notice again the mention of the servant in Exodus 21:32 . The price of a servant was thirty shekels of silver. The redemption price of a free Israelite was fifty shekels (Leviticus 27:3 ); that of a slave, thirty shekels. How it reminds us again of Him who was sold for thirty pieces of silver (Deuteronomy 11:12 ).

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Exodus 21". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/exodus-21.html. 1913-1922.
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