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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Exodus 21

 

 

Verses 1-33

c.—First form of the law of the political commonwealth

Exodus 21:1 to Exodus 23:33

a. Right of Personal Freedom (according to Bertheau, ten in number)

1Now these are the judgments [ordinances] which thou shalt set before them 2 If [when] thou buy [buyest] an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing 3 If he came [come] in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were [be] married, then his wife shall go out with him 4 If his master have given [give] him a wife, and she have borne [bear] him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself 5 And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: 6then his master shall bring him unto the judges [God]; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door-post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him foreExo Exodus 21:7 And if [when] a man sell [selleth] his daughter to be a maid-servant, she shall not go out as the men-servants do 8 If she please not her master who hath betrothed her to himself,[FN1] then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her 9 And if he have betrothed [betroth] her unto his Song of Solomon, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters 10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage [marriage due] shall he not diminish 11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free [for nothing], without money.

b. On Murder and Bodily Injuries. Sins against the Life of one’s Neighbor. (Ten in number, according to Bertheau.)

12He that smiteth a Prayer of Manasseh, so that he die [dieth], shall be surely put to death 13 And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand [make it happen 14 to his hand[FN2]]; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee. But [And] if [when] a man come [cometh] presumptuously upon his neighbor, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die 15 And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death 16 And he that stealeth a Prayer of Manasseh, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death 17 And he that curseth [revileth][FN3] his father, or his mother, shall surely be 18 put to death. And if [when] men strive together, and one smite [smiteth] another [the other] with a stone, or with his fist, and he die [dieth] not, but keepeth his bed: 19If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be 20 thoroughly healed. And if [when] a man smite [smiteth] his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die [dieth] under his hand; he shall be surely punished 21 Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he Isaiah 22 his money. If [And when] men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her [depart], and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished [fined], according as the woman’s husband will [shall] lay upon him: 23and he shall pay as the judges determine.[FN4] And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25, 26Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. And if [when] a man smite [smiteth] the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish27[and destroyeth it]: he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake. And if he smite out his Prayer of Manasseh -servant’s tooth, or his maid-servant’s tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake.

c. Injuries resulting from Relations of Property. Through Property and of Property. Acts of Carelessness and Theft. (Ten, according to Bertheau.)

28If [And when] an ox gore [goreth] a man or a woman, that they die, then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit 29 But if the ox were [hath been] wont to push with his horn [to gore] in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in [keepeth him not in], but that he hath killed [and he killeth] a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death 30 If there be laid on him a sum of money [ransom], then he shall give for the ransom [redemption] of his life whatsoever is laid upon him 31 Whether he have gored a Song of Solomon, or have gored a daughter, according to this judgment shall it be done unto him 32 If the ox shall push [gore] a Prayer of Manasseh -servant or maid-servant, he shall give unto their master 33 thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned. And if [when] a man shall open a pit, or if [when] a man shall dig a pit, and not cover it, and an ox or an ass fall therein; 34The owner of the pit shall make it good, and [good; he shall] give 35 money unto the owner of them; and the dead beast shall be his. And if [when] one man’s ox hurt [hurteth] another’s, that he die [dieth]; then they shall sell the live ox, 36and divide the money [price] of it; and the dead ox also they shall divide. Or if it be known that the ox hath used to push [hath been wont to gore] in time past, and his owner hath not kept him in; he shall surely pay ox for ox; and the dead shall be his own.

Chap. Exodus 22:1 If [When] a man shall steal [stealeth] an ox, or a sheep, and kill [killeth] it, or sell [selleth] it; he shall restore [pay] fiveoxen for an ox, and four sheep 2 for a sheep. If a [the] thief be found breaking up [in], and be smitten that he die3[so that he dieth], there shall no blood be shed [no blood-guiltiness] for him. If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed [blood-guiltiness] for him; for he [him; he] should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft 4 If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, 5or ass, or sheep; he shall restore [pay] double. If [When] a man shall cause [causeth] a field or vineyard to be eaten [fed upon], and shall put in his beast [letteth his beast loose], and shall feed [and it feedeth] in another man’s field; of the best 6 of his own field, and of the best of his own vineyard, shall he make restitution. If [When] fire break [breaketh] out, and catch [catcheth] in thorns, so that the stacks of corn [grain], or the standing corn [grain], or the field, be [is] consumed therewith; he [consumed; he] that kindled the fire shall surely make [make full] restitution.

d. Things Entrusted and Things Lost

7If [When] a man shall deliver unto his neighbor money or stuff to keep, and it be [is] stolen out of the man’s house; if the thief be found, let him pay double 8 If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges [unto God], to see whether he have put [have not put] his hand unto his neighbor’s goods 9 For all manner of trespass [In every case of trespass], whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost [any lost] thing, which another challengeth to be his [of which one saith, This is it], the cause of both parties shall come before the judges [God]; and [he] whom the Judges 10[God] shall condemn, he [condemn] shall pay double unto his neighbor. If [When] a man deliver [delivereth] unto his neighbor an ass, or an ox, or a sheep, or any beast, to keep; and it die [dieth], or be [is] hurt, or driven away, no man seeing11it: Then shall an [the] oath of Jehovah be between them both, that [whether] he hath not put his hand unto his neighbor’s goods; and the owner of it shall accept thereof [it], and he shall not make it good [make restitution]. 12And if it be stolen from him, he shall make restitution unto the owner thereof 13 If it be torn in pieces, then let him bring it for witness; and [witness;] he shall not make good that which was 14 torn. And if [when] a man borrow [borroweth] aught of his neighbor, and it be [is] hurt, or die [dieth], the owner thereof being not with it, he shall surely make15it good [shall make full restitution]. But if [If] the owner thereof be with it, Hebrews 16shall not make it good: if it be an hired thing, it came for his [its] hire. And if [when] a man entice [enticeth] a maid [virgin] that is not betrothed, and lie [lieth] with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife 17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.

e. Unnatural Crimes. Religious and Inhumane Abominations. (Arranged according to Bertheau.)

(1) 18Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. (2) 19Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death. (3) 20He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto Jehovah only, he [only,] shall be utterly destroyed [devoted to destruction]. (4) 21Thou shalt neither vex [wrong] a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. (5) 22Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child 23 If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; 24And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless. (6) 25If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee [with thee that is poor], thou shalt not be to him as an usurer; neither shalt thou [shall ye] lay upon him usury [interest]. (7) 26If thou at all take thy neighbor’s raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver [restore] 27it unto him by that the sun goeth down: For that is his covering only [only covering], it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? And it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious. (8) 28Thou shalt not revile the gods [God], nor curse the [a] ruler of [among] thy people. (9) 29Thou shalt not delay to offer [not keep back] the first of thy ripe fruits and of thy liquors [the first-fruits of thy threshing-floor and of thy press]:[FN5] the first-born of thy sons shalt thou give unto me 30 Likewise shalt thou do with thine oxen, and with thy sheep: seven days it shall be with his [its] dam; on the eighth day thou shalt give it me. (10) 31And ye shall be holy men unto me; neither shall ye [and ye shall not] eat any flesh that is torn of beasts in the field; ye shall cast it to the dogs.

f. Judicial Proceedings

Exodus 23:1(1) Thou shalt raise [carry] a false report: (2) put not thine [thy] hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. (3) 2Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline [turn aside] after many [a multitude] to wrest judgment: (4) 3Neither shalt thou countenance [be 4 partial to] a poor man in his cause. (5) If [When] thou meet [meetest] thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again5[to him]. (6) If [When] thou see [seest] the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him [thou shalt forbear to leavehim], thou shalt surely help [release it] with him.[FN6] (7) 6Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause. (8) 7Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay them not: for I will not justify the wicked. (9) 8And thou shalt take no gift [bribe]: for the gift [a bribe] blindeth the wise [theseeing], and perverteth the words of the righteous. (10) 9Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

g. Rules for Holidays and Festivals

(1) 10And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: 11But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still [fallow]; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy olive-yard. (2) 12Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger may be refreshed 13 And in [unto] all things that I have said unto you be circumspect [take heed]: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard [gods; let itnot be heard] out of thy mouth. (3) 14Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year. (4) 15Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed [at the set time] of [in] the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty: (5) 16And the feast of harvest, the [of the] first fruits of thy labors, which thou hast sown [sowest] in the field: (6) and the feast of ingathering, which is in [ingathering, at] the end of the year, when thou hast gathered [thou gatherest] in thy labors out of the field. (7) 17Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord God [Jehovah]. (8) 18Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my sacrifice [feast] remain until the morning. (9) 19The first of the first-fruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of Jehovah, thy God. (10) Thou shalt not seethe [boil] a kid in his [its] mother’s milk.

h. The Promises

(1) 20Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee, in [by] the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared 21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not: for he will not pardon your trangressions: for my name22is in him. But [For] if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. (2) 23For mine angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off 24 Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images. (3) 25And ye shall serve Jehovah your God, and he shall [will] bless thy bread and thy water; (4) and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee. (5) 26There shall nothing [no one] cast their [her] young, nor be barren, in thy land; (6) the number of thy days I will fulfil. (7) 27I will send my fear [terror] before thee, and will destroy [discomfit] all the people to whom thou shalt come, 28and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee. (8) And I will send [send the] hornets before thee, which [and they] shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. (9) 29I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee 30 By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land. (10) 31And I will set thy bounds from the Red Sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee 32 Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods 33 They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

[ Exodus 21:8. The Hebrew here, according to the K’thibh, is לֹא, and if this were followed, we should have to translate with Geddes, Rosenmüller and others: “so that he hath not betrothed (or will not betroth) her.” The K’ri reads לוֹ, “unto him” or “unto himself.” This yields much the easiest sense, and is especially confirmed by the consideration that יָעַד of itself means, not “betroth,” but “appoint,” “destine.” Followed by the Dative, it may in the connection convey the notion of betrothal; but used absolutely, it cannot convey it.—Tr.]

[ Exodus 21:13. אִנָּה cannot mean “deliver,” and no object is expressed. It is therefore unwarrantable to render, with A. V, “deliver him,” or even with Lange, “let him accidentally fall into his hand.” The object to be supplied is the indefinite one suggested by the preceding sentence, viz. homicide.—Tr.]

[ Exodus 21:17. קִלֵּל, though generally rendered “curse” in A. V, yet differs unmistakably from אָרַר in being used not merely of cursing, but of evil speaking in general, e.g. Judges 9:27 and 2 Samuel 16:9. The LXX. render it correctly by κακολογέω. And this word, where the passage is quoted in the New Testament, is rendered by the same Greek word, viz. Matthew 15:4.—Tr.]

[ Exodus 21:23. The Heb. reads בִּפְלִלִים, lit. “with judges” or “among judges.” Some render “unto the judges;” others “before the judges;” but the preposition does not naturally convey either of these senses. The A. V. probably expresses the true meaning: “with Judges,i.e. the line being judicially imposed.—Tr.]

[ Exodus 22:29. Literally: “thy fullness and thy tear.” The phrase “ripe fruits” is objectionable as including too much; “liquors” as suggesting a wrong conception. The first refers to the crops generally, exclusive of the olive and the grape, from which oil and wine, the liquid products (“tear”), were derived. Cranmer’s Bible renders, not inaptly: “thy fruits, whether they be dry or moist.”—Tr.]

[ Exodus 23:5. The rendering of A. V.: “and wouldest forbear,” is utterly untenable. Not less so is the rendering of עֲזֹב by “help.” The simplest explanation assumes a double meaning of עָזַב, viz. to “loose,” and to “leave.” We might borrow a vulgar phrase, and read: “Thou shalt forbear to cut loose from him, thou shalt cut loose with him.” De Wette and Murphy attempt to avoid the double meaning by emphasizing “with.” Thus: “Thou shalt forbear to leave it to him: thou shalt leave it with him.” But this is a nicety quite alien from the Hebrew.—Tr.]

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

This section is very clearly to be distinguished from the two preceding, so that after the purely religious and ethical legislation, and after the ritual, now the social and political legislation is instituted. The genuinely theocratic character of this legislation here at once appears. It is not a criminal law in the first instance, but a system of legal regulations for a people that is to be trained for freedom. Hence these ordinances begin at once very significantly with the regulating of the laws concerning emancipation; and indirectly all the main points of this law point to the rights of freedom. Just as the sacrificial usages were found already existing, and were thenceforth theocratically regulated, so now the relations of slavery, found as an existing fact, were regulated in the spirit of the typical people of God. So Keil entitles the section: “The fundamental rights of the Israelites in their civil and social relations.” Less satisfactorily Knobel: “The further rights, i.e. laws,” etc. But the parallels which he draws between the Jewish legislation and that of other ancient people, and of heathen people in general, as also of the modern Mohammedan Arabs, are excellent. We divide thus: (a) The law of personal freedom. That this may correspond with the first commandment of the decalogue, the duty of holding sacred the divine personality, is obvious. (b) The second division, on murder and bodily injuries, quite as unmistakably aims to secure the human form from abuse or disfigurement, as the second commandment to keep the divine image from being deformed; but it is also connected with the commandment: Thou shalt not kill, (c) The third division, on injuries which result from the relations of property, points to the commandment: Thou shalt not steal, (d) Akin to the foregoing, and yet different, are the regulations concerning goods put in another’s care, and goods lost, (e) The regulations concerning unnatural crimes, offences against religion and humanity are more specially connected with the first and with the fifth and tenth commandments. (f) The section on judicial processes reminds us of the prohibition of false witness. (g) The division relating to holidays and feast-days reminds us of the third commandment, but is more especially an unfolding of the law of the Sabbath. (h) Also the promises which are annexed to the fifth and second commandments are in the last division expanded into a fuller form.

Here must be noticed one more circumstance. When regulations of similar import are found in different sections of the law, this is not to be regarded as mere repetition, still less as confusion. The moral law of the Sabbath, e.g., comes here ( Exodus 23:12) under consideration again, from a social point of view; in Leviticus still again as connected with the ceremonial law. For the Sabbath, there are moral and ritual reasons, and likewise social or civil reasons, the latter uniting the two former. In like manner the great festivals of the Israelites are here regarded from a national, or civil, point of view: in Leviticus they are associated with the idea of worship. The occasional precepts concerning purification and sacrifice in the book of Numbers relate to the keeping pure of the social commonwealth of Jehovah, and are therefore not primarily ceremonial. The tabernacle is found in Exodus, not in Leviticus, because it is primarily the house of the theocratic lawgiver, and is the repository of the decalogue; only secondarily the place of worship, the place where the lawgiver meets his people.

a. Law of Personal Freedom

(1) The Hebrew Prayer of Manasseh -servant, Exodus 21:1-6; (2) The Hebrew maid-servant, Exodus 21:7-11. The further development of, and reasons for, the law of emancipation, vid. in Deuteronomy 15:12-18. “The Hebrew Prayer of Manasseh -servant after six years of service is to receive his freedom gratis. According to Deuteronomy 15:12 this holds also of the Hebrew maidservant. The attributive עִבְרִי designates the servant as an Israelite (comp. אָחִיךָ in Deut.) in distinction from the slaves derived from non-Israelitish foreign nations, to whom this law does not apply” (Keil). The law evidently tends towards securing the universality of personal freedom. But it also knows that within the theocracy, in the servitude which is mitigated by it, there is an element susceptible of education. Therefore the servant is not compelled to become free in the seventh year. We are to consider that the sons of the household also then stood in the relation of strict subjection, so that a dutiful servant became more and more like them. Vid. Exodus 23:12, Leviticus 25:6, etc. The servant might also be led by devotion to his wife, given to him by his master during his servitude, and to her children, to remain a servant. With reference to this the three cases in Exodus 21:3-4 were to be distinguished. The fixing of the seventh year as the year of emancipation is connected with the sabbatical year, but does not coincide with it. How one could become a slave among the Israelites is told in Exodus 22:3, Leviticus 25:39. But how the emancipation was to be beautified and enriched is seen in the parallel passage in Deuteronomy [ Exodus 15:12-15]. On the manner of emancipation vid. Keil p130. Unto God.—Not to the priests, but to the court of the assembly, which passed judgment in the name of God, and whose sentence was a divine dispensation. Similar expressions vid. in Knobel, p214. There had therefore to be a public declaration that the servant voluntarily remained a servant. “The boring of the ears was among the Orientals a sign of slavery” (Knobel). The ear-rings among the Carthaginians from being a symbol of slavery came to be an ornament, like the cross among Christians. The case mentioned in Leviticus 25:39 is probably a modification, but according to Knobel is a contradiction, of the law before us.

Exodus 21:7-11 : The Israelitish daughter as servant and concubine. Knobel makes no distinction between concubinage as it is found among the patriarchs, and the usual custom of the Jews. But in reply see the Commentary on Genesis, p80. She shall not go out as the men-servants do.—It follows from the nature of her position that it is a benefit to her if she can remain in the house of her master, provided that the rights of the concubine are respected. It is therefore presupposed either that he takes her for himself, or gives her to his Song of Solomon, or maintains her honor by the side of his son’s wife. In the first case, he must let her be redeemed; in the second case, he must accord to her the domestic rights of an associate wife. If he is not willing to give her this protection, he must let her go free for nothing. In this connection the precepts of Deuteronomy 15:12 are also to be considered. Exodus 21:8-9. Who hath betrothed her to himself.—“The לֹא before יְעָדָהּ belongs to the15 passages designated by the Massorah in which לֹא stands for לוֹ” (Keil; compare Knobel). To sell her unto a strange people.—Knobel: “The Greek, too, did not sell a Greek slave to go beyond the boundary of the land.” Seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.—It would certainly create a difficulty to translate, “on account of his infidelity towards her,” as if this unfaithfulness were the only reason why an Israelitess might not be sold to heathen. Therefore the emphasis probably lies on the thought that his injustice would be doubly great if even in this case, in which he has gone so far as to send her away, he should also in his treachery to her violate the theocratic law. That the word בָּגַד has a specially important meaning, is seen from Psalm 73:15. Comp. Deuteronomy 21:14, and the account of the Arabian customs in Knobel, p216. If he betroth her unto his son.—Comp. Knobel also on a Persian or Arabian custom of a similar sort. As his son’s concubine she is to be regarded by him as a daughter. Exodus 21:9. If he take him another wife.—That Isaiah, the father for his son. So Keil; but Knobel understands it to mean: If he takes another for himself. Keil well disposes of the views, according to which either the son is the subject, or the father takes for himself.[FN7] Her food, etc.—All of her domestic rights are to remain secure. שְׁאֵר, meat, as the chief article of food, “because the lawgiver has men of wealth in mind.” (Keil). To understand עוֹנָה, which properly means lying, of cohabitation, yields no tolerable sense. How could the father in this thing control the son? Or how could the son be obliged to conduct himself towards several wives in the same way as towards one. Either, therefore, the expression has in it something figurative, meaning: She must not as wife be neglected; or it refers to a seat, a resting-place (see the meaning of עוּן), which would well harmonize with the reference to food and raiment. It is therefore assumed that under the conditions imposed she has in the house of her servitude a much better position than if she should be dismissed, especially if she has borne children who belong to the permanent members of the household.

b. On Murder, Homicide, and Bodily Injuries

(1) Homicide proper, Exodus 21:12-14. (a) Simple homicide in consequence of beating; (b) unintentional, resulting from misfortune and mistake; (c) murder proper. (2) Spiritual homicide, (a) Smiting of parents; (b) deprivation of freedom (as spiritual fratricide); (c) cursing of parents (spiritual suicide). (3) Bodily injuries, (a) Of uncertain, perhaps fatal result; (i) to a free man; (ii) a Prayer of Manasseh -servant or maid-servant; (iii) a pregnant woman, in which connection is to be noticed that the jus talionis is laid down in close connection with an extremely humane law of protection, Exodus 21:22-25; (b) local injuries to men-servants or maid-servants.

Exodus 21:12. He that smiteth a man.—Says Keil: “Higher than personal freedom stands life.” It may then be asked, why is capital punishment prescribed ( Exodus 21:16) for the violent taking away of freedom? The slavery treated of in the preceding section was no innovation, but as a traditional custom it was restricted, and moreover in great part was based on guilt or voluntary assent; it had besides an educational end. It is true, the law of retaliation, as instituted in Genesis 9:6, underlies all this section; but it is noticeable that this law is expressly prescribed just where the protection of a pregnant woman is involved. It is repeated ( Leviticus 24:17) in connection with the ordinance that the blasphemer shall be stoned. The reason for the repetition is the principle that in respect to these points perfect equality of rights should be accorded to the stranger and the Israelite; and it was occasioned by the fact that the blasphemer was a Jew on his mother’s side, but an Egyptian on his father’s side. So that he dieth.—Three cases are specified: first, the severe blow which in fact, but not in intention, proves mortal; secondly, the unfortunate killing through mistake, a providential homicide; thirdly, intentional, and hence criminal and guileful, murder.

Exodus 21:13. And if a man lie not in wait.—When, therefore not only the murderous blow, but any blow, was unintentional, so that the case is one of severe divine dispensation. I will appoint thee a place.—A place of refuge, with reference to the avengers of blood who pursue him. A check, therefore, upon the custom, prevalent in the East, of avenging murder. It is worthy of notice, from a critical point of view, that no place is now fixed; this was done later, vid. Numbers 35:11; Deuteronomy 19:1-10. Here too the innocent homicide is expressly distinguished from the violent one, Numbers 35:22 sqq. Together with the prescribed place of refuge for the one who kills by mistake is found the stern provision that a real murderer, who has committed his murder with criminal and guileful intent, cannot be protected even by fleeing to the altar of the sanctuary, as it was customary in ancient times for those to do whom vengeance rightly or wrongly pursued, because, as some would say, the altar was a place of expiation. Even from the altar of God he is to be torn away. The expression יָזִד is not adequately represented by “behave viciously, or arrogantly.” It denotes the act of breaking through, in ebullient rage, the sacred restraints which protect one’s neighbor as God’s image. Particular cases, Numbers 35:16, Deuteronomy 19:11. Murder could be expiated only with death, Numbers 35:31. Examples of fleeing to the altar, 1 Kings 1:50; 1 Kings 2:28. This was also customary among the Greeks.

Exodus 21:15. Smiteth his father.—The simple act of smiting, committed on a father or mother, is made equivalent to Prayer of Manasseh -slaughter committed on one’s neighbor. “Parricide, as not occurring and not conceivable, is not at all mentioned” (Keil). Similar ordinances among the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians are mentioned by Knobel, p217. The two following provisions rest on the same ground. The parents are God’s vicegerents for the children; the neighbor is God’s image; hence a violent abuse of his person is equivalent to murder, vid. Deuteronomy 24:7. We explain the insertion of the prohibition of Prayer of Manasseh -stealing between verses15,17 by the fact that in cursing his parents the curser morally destroys himself, vid. Leviticus 20:9, Deuteronomy 27:16. The order is: undutifulness, Prayer of Manasseh -stealing, self-destruction.[FN8] See various views of Exodus 21:16 in Keil, p133.

Exodus 21:18 sq. And when men strive.—The section concerning bodily injuries as such is distiuguished from the section beginning with Exodus 21:12 in that there injuries are spoken of which result in death. The injuries here mentioned would accordingly also be punished with death if they resulted in death. This is shown especially by Exodus 21:20. Here, then, an injury is contemplated which only confines the injured one to his bed. The penalty is twofold: First, the offender must make good his sitting still, i.e. what he might have earned during this time; secondly, he must pay the expenses of his cure, Exodus 21:19. In the case of a Prayer of Manasseh -servant or maidservant a different custom prevailed. If manslaughter took place, the manhood of the slain one is fully recognized, i.e. the penal retribution takes place. Probably sentence was to be rendered by the court, which was to decide according to the circumstances. According to Jewish interpretations capital punishment was to be inflicted with the sword; but vid. Knobel for a different view.[FN9] On the one hand, the danger of a fatal blow was greater than in other relations, for it was lawful for a master to smite his slave (vid. Proverbs 10:13; the rod was also used on children); but on the other hand an intention to kill could not easily be assumed, because the slave had a pecuniary value. Furthermore, the owner is exempted from punishment, if the beaten one survives a day or two; and the punishment then consists in the fact that the slave was his money, i.e. that in injuring the slave he has lost his own money. The Rabbins hold that this applied only to slaves of a foreign race, according to Leviticus 25:44. This is not likely, if at the same time, in case of death, execution by the sword was to be prescribed; also according to this view there would have been a great gap in the law as regards Hebrew slaves. It is true, reference is here had only to injuries inflicted by the rod. When one was killed with an iron instrument, an intention to kill was assumed, and then capital punishment was inflicted unconditionally, Numbers 35:16, Leviticus 24:17; Leviticus 24:21, Deuteronomy 19:11 sqq. On the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman legislation, see Knobel, p219.[FN10]

Exodus 21:22-25. Special legal protection of pregnant women. It might often happen that in quarrelling men would injure a pregnant woman, since wives on such occasions instinctively interpose, Deuteronomy 25:11. In the latter passage the rudenesses which the woman, protected by law, might indulge in are guarded against.—So that her fruit depart. Literally: so that her children come out; i.e., so that abortion takes place. According to Keil, the expression designates only the case of her bearing real children, not a fetus imperfectly developed; i.e., a premature birth, not an abortion, is meant. “The expression יְלָדֶיהָ is used for the sake of indefiniteness, since possibly there might be more than one child in her body.” Strange interpretation of the precept, according to which the plural in individual cases denotes indefiniteness! According to this view, the most, and perhaps the worst cases, would not be provided for, since women far advanced in pregnancy are most apt to guard against the danger of such injuries. The plural may also indicate that the capacity for bearing was injured. “If no other injury results from the quarrel, reparation is to be made, according as the husband of the woman imposes it on the perpetrator, and the latter is to give it ‘with Judges,i.e., in company with, on application to them, in order that excessive demands may be suitably reduced. The amount of indemnity demanded doubtless was determined by the consideration, whether the injured man had many or few children, was poor or rich, etc. The law stands appropriately at the end of the cases which relate to life and the inviolability of the person. The unborn child is reckoned as belonging to, and, as it were, a part of, the mother” (Knobel).

Exodus 21:23. And if any mischief follow. It is to the credit of the legislation that the law of retaliation (vid. Leviticus 24:19, Deuteronomy 19:21) is here so particularly laid down. In its connection it reads: The injury of such a woman must be most sternly expiated according to the degree of it. But even this explication of the law of retaliation must be guarded from a lifeless literalism, as is shown by the provisions in Exodus 21:26-27. It would surely have been contrary to nature to put out the eye of a master who had put out his servant’s eye, or to make him lose tooth for tooth. Keil says, “ The principle of retaliation, however, is good only for the free Israelite, not for the slave.” In the latter case, he adds, emancipation takes place. Emancipation, even on account of a tooth knocked out, has nevertheless the force of retaliation, which, even in the relations of free Israelites, could not have been everywhere literally applied, e.g., in the case of burns. On the jus talionis in the ancient heathen world, and generally in the Orient, vid. Knobel, p220.

c. Injuries resulting from Property relations. Specially from acts of Carelessness. Chs. Exodus 21:28 to Exodus 22:6.

We follow in general Bertheau’s classification, which makes property the determining thought. Keil and Knobel divide otherwise. Keil with the words, “Also against danger from cattle is man’s life secured.” The conflict between life and property, and the subordination of property is here certainly everywhere observed. In a critical respect it may not be without significance that there is here no trace of horses; also the dog is not mentioned. At the time of Solomon and Ahab the case was quite different. First are to be considered the accidents occasioned by oxen that hook, Exodus 21:28-32. But this list is connected with the following one, which treats of the misfortunes which men may suffer in respect to their oxen or asses through the fault of neighbors, in which case a distinction is made between the injuries resulting from carelessness and those resulting from theft, Exodus 21:33 to Exodus 22:4. Then follow injuries done to fields or estates through carelessness in the use of cattle or of fire, Exodus 21:5-6. Then the criminal misuse of goods held in trust constitute a separate section, Exodus 21:7-17, which we do not, like Bertheau, make a subdivision of the division (c), but must distinguish from it.

Exodus 21:28. First case. And if an ox.—The instinct of oxen to hook is so general that every accident of this sort could not be foreseen and prevented. Therefore when an ox has not been described to the owner as properly a goring ox, the owner is essentially innocent. Yet for a possible want of carefulness he is punished by the loss of his animal. But the ox is stoned to death. Legally it would involve physical un-cleanness to eat of the flesh. But the stoning of the ox does not mean that the ox is “tainted with capital crime” (Keil), but that he has become the symbol of a homicide, and so the victim of a curse (חֶרֶם). It is therefore an application of Genesis 9:6 in a symbolical sense, on account of the connection of cattle with men. Comp. also Leviticus 20:15. Similar provisions among the Persians and Greeks vid. in Knobel, p220.

Exodus 21:29. Second case. The owner has been cautioned that his ox is given to hooking. In this case he himself is put to death as well as his ox. This is the rule. But as there may be mitigating considerations, especially in the case of the injured family; as in general the guilt was only that of carelessness, not of evil intention, the owner might save his life by means of a ransom imposed on him by the relatives of the man that had been killed. Probably with the mediation of the Judges, as in Exodus 21:22. Reference to the Salic law made by Knobel. Ransom.—כֹּפֶר, covering, expiation.

Exodus 21:31. Third case. The son or the daughter of a freeman are treated in the same manner as, according to the foregoing, he himself is treated.

Exodus 21:32. Fourth case. The ox gores a manservant or a maid-servant to death. The stoning of the ox is still enjoined, but the owner in this case is not doomed to death. He must pay the master of the slave30 shekels of silver. “Probably the usual market price of a slave, since the ransom money of a free Israelite amounted to50 shekels, Leviticus 27:3.” (Keil). On the value of the shekel (שֶּׁקֶל σίκλος) vid. Winer, Realwörterbuch, p 433 sqq.[FN11] The result of the perplexing investigation is that its value Isaiah 25 or26 silver groschen.[FN12] The shekel afterwards used for the revenue of the temple and of the king was different from that used in common life. This legal inequality [between the slave and the freeman] is to be explained by the consideration that the capital punishment inflicted on the owner formed an offset, to the revenge to which otherwise the relatives of the murdered man might resort. But this revenge for bloodshed was in no danger of being exercised in the case of a murdered slave, since he was removed from the circle of his relations. The seemingly great difference in the penalty amounts finally to this, that the ransom money for a free man was50 shekels, and that for a slave30 shekels. On the estimate of the Attic slave, vid. Knobel; but the great difference in the period of time must be taken into account. “In the legal codes of other ancient nations also are found laws concerning the punishment of beasts that have killed or injured a man. Coop. Clericus and Knobel on this passage. But no nation had a law which made the owner of such a beast responsible, because none of them had recognized the divine image in human life” (Keil). The responsibility of the owner could certainly be grounded only on the mysterious solidarity of the Hebrew household (“thy Prayer of Manasseh -servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle”), a unity which was not taken into account where a more atomistic view of liberty prevailed.

Exodus 21:33-34. Fifth case. And when a man shall open a pit (cistern). This is connected with the foregoing cases as coming under the head of punishable carelessness. The ox or ass are named as examples of domestic animals in general. In this case only property is destroyed; and the careless man has to pay for it, but receives the dead beast, of which he could only use the skin and other such parts, since the flesh was unclean.

Exodus 21:35. Sixth case. A specially fine provision. In the ox that has killed another ox there is nothing abominable, but yet a stain; the sight of him is obnoxious. He is therefore sold and comes into another place where his fault is not known. But the two owners share the price of sale and the dead animal. This is an alleviation of a misfortune that is common to both parties. Without doubt the dead ox also must have hooked.

Exodus 21:36. Seventh case. But here too is to be considered the special circumstance that the ox may have been a notorious hooker. In this case the owner must make full compensation for the loss with a live ox, in return for which he receives the dead beast.

Exodus 22:1-4. Eighth case. The cattle-thief. Five-fold indemnity for the stolen ox; four-fold for the stolen sheep or goat. In the case of the five-fold indemnity any kind of large animal may be delivered over. The difference of five-fold and four-fold points to the greater guilt of the greater theft. “The four-fold restitution is also mentioned in 2 Samuel 12:6 : the seven-fold, Proverbs 6:31, is not to be understood literally, but only in a general way as manifold” (Knobel). From the five-fold and four-fold restitution is distinguished the two-fold, which is prescribed in case the thief has not yet slaughtered or sold the animal, but is able to return it alive. The reasons for this distinction are differently given; vid. Keil; also his note, II. p137.[FN13] In the latter case the thief had not carried out his purpose to the full extent, especially as he has not put the object of his theft out of the way. The case differed therefore materially from the other. Vid. Knobel on the Roman laws. Others indicating the value set on ploughing oxen, Knobel. p222.

Exodus 22:2-3. If the thief be found breaking in.—This is obviously an incidental interpolation, which properly belongs to the class (b). There shall be no blood to him; i.e. no blood-guiltiness is incurred by the homicide; vid. Numbers 35:27; Deuteronomy 19:10; Job 24:16. One might understand this chiefly of an attack on the fold, since the topic is the stealing of cattle; at all events a nocturnal irruption is meant, vid. Exodus 22:3. Accordingly the watchman, or the one who is awaked, is in a condition of defense. He must protect his property, and therefore fight; and the thief is liable to become a robber and murderer. If the sun be risen upon him.—It might be thought that this refers to the early dawn or early day, when he might recognize the thief, or frighten him away unrecognized, or with the help of others capture him. But inasmuch as further on it is assumed that the thief has really accomplished his theft, the expression probably means: If some time has elapsed. If in this case the owner kills the thief, he incurs blood-guiltiness; but on account of the great variety in the cases the sentence of death is not here immediately pronounced upon him. Since the life of the thief is under the protection of the law, the case comes before the criminal court, vid. Exodus 21:20. For Calvin on the “ratio disparitatis inter furem nocturnum et diurnum,” vid. Keil, p137. The real punishment for the thief is determined by the law concerning restitution, Exodus 22:1; Exodus 22:3. But in case the thief can restore nothing, he is sold for the theft, for that which is stolen, i.e. for the value of it. “This can mean only a sale for a period of time. The buyer reckoned the restitution which the thief was to render, and used the thief as a slave until the whole loss was made good” (Knobel). Similar arrangements among the Romans vid. in Knobel, p223. Likewise laws concerning theft, p224. The thief could not be sold to a foreigner, according to Josephus, Ant. XVI:1, 1.

Exodus 22:5. Ninth case. A field or a vineyard to be fed upon.—There are various views of this. (1) Si læserit quispiam agrum vel vineam, etc. (Vulg.). Luther: “When any one injures a field or vineyard, so that he lets his cattle do damage.” (2) Knobel: “When one pastures a field or a vineyard by sending his cattle to it.” (3) Keil: “When any one pastures a field or a vineyard, and lets his cattle loose.” שָׁלַח bears either meaning, to send away, or to let go free; but according to the connection only the latter can be meant here. The sense given to it by the Vulgate might accordingly be accepted: he injures the field or vineyard of his neighbor so that, (in that) etc. But it is more obvious to assume an incidental carelessness to be meant. The beast feeds on his field (perhaps also on the grass between the grape-vines); from this pasture ground he lets him pass over so that he does damage to his neighbor. Knobel even affirms that an intentional damage is meant. And yet only a simple, though ample, indemnity is to be rendered from the best of his field and of his vineyard. Keil rightly contends against Knobel’s theory. Talmudic provisions on this point are found in Saalschütz, Mosaisches Recht, p875 sq.

Exodus 22:6. Tenth case. This is about, a fire in a field, which might the more readily sweep over into the neighbor’s field, inasmuch as it was likely to be kindled at the edge of the field, in the thorn-hedge. Clearly an act of carelessness is meant; comp. Isaiah 5:5. He that hath kindled the fire.—The carelessness is imputed to him as a virtual incendiary, because he did not guard the fire.

d. Things entrusted and lost.

Exodus 22:7. First case. The money or articles or stuff (on כֵלִים see Deuteronomy 22:5) left for safe keeping are stolen from the keeper, but the thief is discovered. The affair is settled by the thief being required to pay back double, vid. Exodus 22:4.

Exodus 22:8. Second case. The thief is not discovered. In this case suspicion falls on the keeper; he may have embezzled the property entrusted to him. Therefore such a case must come before the court, which was esteemed a divine court, hence the expression, אֶל־הָאֱלהִים. The penalty is paid according to the decision of the case. The man under suspicion must approach unto God. Such an approach produced an excitement of conscience. The true high-priest is the one who may approach unto God. In case the keeper is adjudged guilty, he has to pay double.

Exodus 22:9. The foregoing provision is designated as an example for a general rule. The cleansing of the suspected man was probably often effected by an oath of purification. The LXX. and Vulgate interpolate καὶ ὸμεῖται, et jurabit. In all cases in which the concealer made a confession, an oath was unnecessary. Also dishonesty respecting objects found is placed under this rule. On the oath among the Arabs and Egyptians, see Knobel, p225. Knobel seems to assume without reason that the plaintiff also is meant in the words, “whom God shall condemn,” etc.[FN14]

Exodus 22:10-11. Third case. This is about beasts put in others’ care, which die in their possession, or are mutilated in the pasture, or injure themselves, or are driven away by robbers. Here the oath is positively required, in case the guardian alone has seen the thing; but it is also decisive. On a similar Indian law vid. Knobel.

Exodus 22:12. Fourth case. Stolen from him.—It is assumed that the thief is not found. “Here,” says Knobel, “restitution is prescribed, but not in Exodus 22:8, because he who has an animal in charge is the guardian of it, whereas he who has things in charge cannot be regarded as exactly a watchman.” But according to Exodus 22:9 the judges could even adjudge a double restitution, while here only simple restitution is spoken of. There a complication was referred to, in which the approach of the master of the household to God and the attitude of his conscience formed the main ground for the judicial sentence. In the case described in Exodus 22:10-11 the oath determines the main decision; in the present case the simple restitution is prescribed upon the simple declaration: “stolen.”

Exodus 22:13. Fifth case. The production of the animal torn by a beast of prey (not, “or a part of it,” as Keil says) proved not only the fact itself, but also that the guardian had watched, and had driven off the beast of prey by a violent exertion. From this we see the severity of Laban who, according to Genesis 31:39, required his Song of Solomon -in-law in such cases to make the loss good. Comp. 1 Samuel 17:34, Amos 3:12. On the Indian law, vid. Knobel, p227.

Exodus 22:14. Sixth case. A hired beast is injured, or dies, when the owner is not present. The sentence requires restitution, because neglect may be presumed.

Exodus 22:15. Seventh case. The owner is present when the accident occurs. In that case it belonged especially to himself to prevent the accident, if prevention was possible.

Eighth case. The borrower is in the hired service of the owner of the beast. In this case he gets the dead beast instead of his pay; it is subtracted from his pay. For the owner as a hired laborer would have had to do only with himself; and a hired servant with a hired beast cannot be meant. It is therefore a day-laborer to whom the animal of the owner has been entrusted. שָׂכִיר can hardly (with Stier and Keil) be referred to the hired beast. Knobel has a forced explanation, in which the hired servant becomes the one who lets the beast.[FN15]

Exodus 22:16. Ninth case. The seducer of an unbetrothed virgin (the case is different with the seduction of a betrothed one ( Deuteronomy 22:23), who has entrusted to him the wealth of her virginity, valuable not only in a moral, but in a civil point of view, must make restitution to her by marrying her, and to her father by giving a dowry.

Exodus 22:17. Tenth case. The seducer himself cannot refuse the settlement; but the father of the seduced maiden may have reasons for refusing it. In this case the seducer must pay him the dowry (vid. Genesis 34:12), with which she Isaiah, in a sort, reinstated as a virgin, and as afterwards a legally divorced woman. The case is not differently provided for in Deuteronomy 22:28, as Knobel affirms. There only the price of sale is fixed, viz., at50 shekels; the right of the father to refuse his daughter to the seducer is simply not repeated. The dowry was not properly a price of sale.

“The precepts in Exodus 22:18 and onwards,” says Keil, “differ in form and contents from the foregoing laws; in form, by the omission of כִּי [when], with which the foregoing are almost without exception introduced; in substance, by the fact that they impose on the Israelites, on the ground of their election to be the holy people of Jehovah, requirements which transcend the sphere of natural law.” Yet the two divisions are not to be distinguished as natural and supernatural. But Keil has correctly found a new section here, whilst Knobel begins a new section, poorly defined, with Exodus 22:16.

e. Unnatural Crimes. Abominations committed against Religion and Humanity.

Exodus 22:18. First offence. The sorceress is condemned to death. This term is not to be made synonymous with witch, as Knobel makes it. The mediæval witch may practice, or wish to practice, sorcery; but she may also be a calumniated woman. She gets her name from the popular conception, whereas the sorceress gets her name from the real practice of a lying, dark art. She operates on the assumption that demoniacal powers co-operate with her, and so she promotes radical irreligion. She injures her neighbor in body and life, as being the instrument of hostile passions, which she nourishes; or, when she enters into the mood of the questioner, she nourishes ruinous hopes (Macbeth) or despair (the soothsayer of Endor), and often from being a mixer of herbs becomes a mixer of poisons (Gesina). “The sorceress is named instead of the sorcerer, as Calovius says, not because the same thing is not punishable in men, but because the female sex is more addicted to this crime” (Keil). According to Knobel the expression, “not suffer to live,” intimates that perhaps a foreign sorceress might be punished with banishment; but Keil supposes that she may have been allowed to live, if she gave up her occupation. Sorcery was connected not only with simple idolatry, but in many ways with the worship of demons, and the sorceress was regarded as seducing to such things.

Exodus 22:19. Second offence. Sexual intercourse with a beast. Comp. Leviticus 18:23; Leviticus 20:15; Deuteronomy 27:21. This unnatural thing also was punished with death, like the kindred one of sodomy, a prominent vice of the Canaanites, Leviticus 20:13.

Exodus 22:20. Third offence. Idolatry. Keil’s explanation, “Israel must not sacrifice to foreign gods, but must not only tolerate foreigners in the midst of them,” etc., almost seems intended to intimate that the heathen in Israel had an edict of tolerance for their offerings. Opposed to this conception is the Sabbath law, and the ordinance in Exodus 23:24. In both cases, however, the explanation is that a public worship of strange gods was not tolerated in Israel; but an inquisition to ferret out such worship secretly carried on is not countenanced by the Mosaic law. The words are: “whosoever sacrificeth unto any god.” The addition, “save unto Jehovah only” (as likewise Exodus 20:24), is a mild expression also as regards the theocratic offerings, and also secures a right understanding of the word “Elohim.”—He is to be devoted, i.e., to the judgment of Jehovah sentencing him to death. Here the notion of חֶרֶם (hherem, ban) comes out distinctly. Every capital punishment was essentially a hherem; but here is found the root of the notion: an idolater by his offering has withdrawn from Jehovah the offering due to Him alone; he has, so to speak, removed the offering away from the true divine idea, and perverted it into its opposite. “He is to be devoted by death to the Lord, to whom in life he would not devote himself” (Keil). It may be that a sort of irony lies in the notion of the hherem; as being consecration reversed, it secures to God the glory belonging to Him alone; but it does this also as being consecration to the judging God in His judgment. “No living thing,” says Knobel, “devoted to Jehovah could be redeemed, but had to be destroyed. Leviticus 27:28 sq.; 1 Samuel 15:3.” But only when it was a case of hherem, vid. Deuteronomy 13:12 sqq.

Exodus 22:21. Fourth offence. A beautiful contrast to the foregoing is formed by the statement, of offences against humanity. Maltreatment of the foreigner is put first of all. He must not be wronged, “for ye were strangers,” etc. A moral principle which Revelation -appears in the N. T. ( Matthew 7:12). as also in Kant. The particular rules concerning the treatment of aliens are given by Knobel. p228, who also gives the appropriate references to Michaelis and Saalschütz. Vid. Exodus 3:9, Deuteronomy 26:7. Knobel says, “The persons meant are the Canaanitish and non-Canaanitish strangers who staid as individuals among the Israelites; the Canaanites as a whole are, according to this lawgiver also, to be extirpated (vid. Exodus 23:33).” It belongs to the definition of the “stranger,” that he is dissociated from his own nationality, and has become subject to another, i.e. here, to the national laws of the Israelites. The failure to affix a penalty to this law implies that the noble emotion of gratitude was probably depended on to secure its fulfilment.

Exodus 22:22-24. Fifth offence. Against widows and orphans. On this point see Knobel’s collection of the various passages, p229. God takes the place of the deceased fathers and husbands by His special protection; whence follows that they on their part when living are to exercise a divine protection in the house over wife and children. And because, through the selfishness of the strong, widows and orphans were so liable to be oppressed, being easily despoiled on account of their impotence, chief prominence is given to the significance of their crying. This need not always be a conscious prayer uttered in one’s extremity, for crying, on the part of living things and before God, has a special meaning, even down to the crying of the young ravens. The threatened punishment, in the first place, is connected with the guilt, and in the second place corresponds with it. Despotism begins with the oppression of the weak (widows and orphans), and reaches its consummation in unrighteous wars and military catastrophes, out of which again widows and orphans are made. Vid. Isaiah 9:17.

Exodus 22:25. Sixth offence. Prohibition of usury, by which the exigency of the poor is abused, Leviticus 25:36. Two grounds: the poor man belongs to the people of God as a free Prayer of Manasseh, and has lost his freedom through his troubles. By usury he is burdened.

Exodus 22:26-27. Seventh offence. Excessive taking of pawn. The lender may require a pledge of the creditor, but his covering (outer garment) he must return to him before sunset, lest he suffer from the nocturnal cold. The mantle marks the extreme of poverty in general, vid. Deuteronomy 24:6 sqq. The compassion which Jehovah here promises to the helpless ones that cry has an obverse side for the pitiless. The expression in Exodus 22:27 becomes even a rhetorical plea for the poor. Matthew 5:7, James 2:13. “The indigent Oriental covers himself at night in his outer garment. Shaw, Travels, p224, Niebuhr, Arabien, p64” (Knobel). On the pawning of clothes, see Amos 2:8, Job 22:6, Proverbs 20:16; Proverbs 27:13.

Exodus 22:28. Eighth offence. Contempt, of the Deity and of princely magistrates. Keil says, “Elohim means neither the gods of the other nations, as Josephus (Ant. IV:8, 10, contra Apionem II:33), Philo (vita Mos. III:864) and others explain the word in their dead and Pharisaic monotheism; nor the magistrates, as Onkelos, Jonathan, Aben Ezra and others think; but God, the Deity in general, whose majesty is despised in every transgression of Jehovah’s commands, and should be honored in the person of the prince. Comp. Proverbs 24:21; 1 Peter 2:17,” etc. So Knobel. This explanation is certainly favored by the context, particularly the following; especially also by the fact that the prince (the exalted, the high one) is mentioned next to God. Yet this is to be observed in the line of Josephus and Philo’s opinion, that the theocracy does not reject the divine element in the religions themselves, but the false ideal images of the gods (Elilim), and the actual idols, and that even in this sphere there are reservations in reference to Satan (Epistle of Jude). There are two reasons for it: first, the element of truth which underlies the errors; secondly, the moral injury of the religious feelings of the neighbor who is in error. We prefer to render, “the Deity;” at all events the reviling of the Deity, which may have many degrees, is sharply distinguished from the positive reviling of Jehovah ( Leviticus 24:15-16). The world of to-day would perhaps invert the order of guilt in this relation. Luther’s translation transposes the meanings of the verbs [“Den Göttern. … nicht fluchen, und den Obersten … nicht lästern,” “not curse the gods, and not revile the magistrates”]. The princes are under God as His vicegerents. Passages relative to the defamation of princes are given by Knobel. The word קִלֵּל comprehends all forms of evil-speaking of God.

Exodus 22:29-30. Ninth offence. Holding back of the natural products due to the sanctuary. “מְלֵאָה means the produce of grain ( Deuteronomy 22:9), and the word דֶּמַע, which occurs only here, properly ‘tear,’ something flowing, liquor stillans, is a poetic designation of the produce of the wine-vat, the wine and the oil, comp. δάκρυον τῶν δένδρων. Theoph.: arborum lacrymæ; Pliny XI:6.” (Keil.) Vid. Exodus 23:19; Deuteronomy 26:2-11; Numbers 18:12. These gifts to the temple retained their festal character and their value only as they were freely and joyfully presented. The first-born of thy sons.—Repetition of the precept to sanctify the first-born to Jehovah, Exodus 13:2; Exodus 13:12. In the passage before us, however, the precept is put under the point of view of the civil commonwealth. This needs religious institutions in order to its perpetuity. Knobel attempts in vain to make out a difference between this passage and others which prescribe the redemption of the first-born. A week of existence with the dam must also be secured to the sacrificial victims taken from the cattle and from the sheep or goats.

Exodus 22:31. Tenth offence. Use of unclean meat. As men of holiness consecrated to the sanctuary, they must refrain from the use of unclean meat, especially of that which is torn of beasts. The carcass is to be given to the dogs, whose characteristic here appears. Comp. Exodus 19:6; Leviticus 17:15.

f. Legal Proceedings

Exodus 23:1. First precept. Against rashness in cherishing and uttering suspicions. Comp. Leviticus 19:16; Deuteronomy 22:13 sqq. Vid. the references to Michaelis and Saalschütz in Knobel.

Second precept. No one shall allow himself to be misled by wicked men into the utterance of false witness.

Exodus 23:2. Third precept. Base compliance with the judgment of the multitude.

Exodus 23:3. Fourth precept. Not to favor the poor man in his suit. Affectation in sympathy with the lowly. The error of many modern minds. Against Knobel’s conjecture, vid. Keil.[FN16]

Exodus 23:4. Fifth precept. To keep even an enemy from suffering loss. One’s enemy is in this case a brother, according to Deuteronomy 22:1. Neglect of this duty is positive and culpable violation of law.

Exodus 23:5. Sixth precept. It is still harder to labor in company with the enemy (the hater), in order to help him in his extremity. In this case the inclination to avoid the enemy must be overcome. On the pun see Gesenius under עָזַב. Comp. Bertheau, p41. The neglect of this difficult self-denial also comes into the category of violation of law.

Exodus 23:6. Seventh precept. Of thy poor.—The poor must be the protegé of the rich. But the temptations to violate his rights, to pervert it this way and that, is strong, since he is defenceless. Hence Moses puts him specially under the protection of the law. Comp. Deuteronomy 27:19; 1 Samuel 8:3; Lamentations 3:35.

Exodus 23:7. Eighth precept. This looks like the first. But there the subject is false testimony—here, the false judge; because his conduct may possibly bring death to the innocent man. Here, therefore, judicial murder is specifically treated of, with the declaration that God will not acquit the wicked one, i.e., will judge him; and the wicked judge is probably meant. Bertheau, dividing this one precept into two, fails to make out the tenth—wherefore Keil is led to pronounce his hypothesis of decades to be arbitrary throughout.

Exodus 23:8. Ninth precept. Prohibition of the taking of presents in law-suits. Out of such presents corruption grows. They pervert the cause of the righteous—make right wrong.

Exodus 23:9. Tenth precept. This is not identical with the general precept in Exodus 22:21, since here the question is about law-suits. It should be considered especially in courts of law how a stranger feels. He is timid, faint-hearted, and readily surrenders a part or the whole of his just claim before the mighty judge. Israel is to learn this from his experience in Egypt. Vid. Deuteronomy 24:17; Deuteronomy 27:19.

g. Ordinances concerning Feast-days and Days of Rest

Exodus 23:10-11. First ordinance. The land must rest the seventh year. It is the Sabbath of the years, the continuation of the Sabbath of the months, as of the Sabbath of the days, while they all look back to the Sabbath of God’s creation, and look forward to the Sabbath of the generation, the great year of jubilee, the type of the future foundation and completion of the Sabbath by Christ. The civil side of the religious ordinances here made should not be overlooked, as is done by Keil and Knobel. In Leviticus 25 the ordinance bears a predominantly religious aspect. What the land produces of itself, without culture, belongs to all as a common possession to be freely enjoyed; likewise to the stranger and to the cattle, and even to the wild beasts. Thus this festal year forms a reflex of Paradise. And if this festal year in point of fact, was poorly observed in Israel, critics may well infer that this law was written long before the time of the later national life of the Israelites. In its ideal significance, however, it belongs to all times: not only the field, but also the forest, the river, and the mine, may be spoiled by unintermittent labor.

Exodus 23:12-13. Second ordinance. Man and beast must rest on the seventh day. The humane object of the Sabbath in its civil aspect comes out prominently in the text. Mention is first made even of the rest needed by the ox and the ass, then of the hand-maid’s Song of Solomon, i.e., the one born a slave, and the stranger; they must on the Sabbath have a breathing-spell, as the verb properly means. Exodus 23:13 enjoins the proper celebration for this sacred list of feast-days, strictly excluding the names of all heathen deities, and containing a suggestion for the revision of the Christian calendar in view of the medieval deifications. Says Knobel: “The most important point is the exclusive adoration of Jehovah. The Hebrew is not even to mention—i.e., utter—the name of another god; not to take it into his mouth, still less recognize or reverence such a god. Song of Solomon, too, the strict worshippers of Jehovah did ( Psalm 16:4; Hosea 2:17; Zechariah 13:2). Accordingly the Hebrew was to swear only by Jehovah ( Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 10:20; Jeremiah 12:16). So the Phenician could not swear ὅρκους ξενικούς (Josephus c. Apionem I:22).” But we must distinguish between the proper meaning of this command and the superstitious Jewish interpretation of it, which has even imposed a penalty on the utterance of the name of Jehovah. The Song of Solomon -called “killing by silence” [Todtschweigen], generally a sin, has therefore here, too, its moral side.

Exodus 23:14. Third ordinance. Three annual festivals are to be celebrated in accordance with the wants of God’s people in their civil capacity. At the head stands the feast of unleavened bread, as the festival of freedom; then follow the two principal harvest festivals, of which the second at the same time marks the close of the year with reference to the notion of the civil year. Vid. Exodus 34:23; Deuteronomy 16:16; 2 Chronicles 8:13. “Otherwise,” says Knobel, “the Elohist, on which point see Leviticus 23.” But it must be observed that there the festivals are spoken of in their relation to religion and religious rites. Therefore, at that place special prominence is given to the Passover and the day of atonement. The arrangement of the three festivals, however, was, for the most part, prophetic, since in the wilderness there could be no harvesting, nor even sacrifices, vid. Leviticus 23:10.

Exodus 23:15. Fourth ordinance. The feast of unleavened bread as the birth-day festival of the people and of their freedom; whereas the Passover stands at the head of their religious offerings, vid. Exodus 12:40 sqq. On Hitzig’s view in his “Ostern und Pfingsten,” vid. Knobel,[FN17] p233; Bertheau, p57.—“Not empty,” i.e., not with empty hands, but with sacrificial gifts. Even the general festival offerings had to come from the sacrificial gifts of the people—a fact which Knobel seems to overlook; to these were added the peace-offerings made by individuals. So the Oriental never came before his king without presents; vid. the citations from Ælian and Paulsen in Keil. The offering is the surplus of the gain which God has blessed, and by the effort to secure this surplus a barrier is built against want in civil life. While the offerings serve to maintain the religious rites, they also serve indirectly to maintain the common weal. The same holds of the true church and of its wants.

Exodus 23:16. Fifth ordinance. The feast of harvest.—Here named for the first time, as also the third feast, vid. Leviticus 23:15 : Numbers 28:26. Also called the feast of weeks, because it was celebrated seven weeks after the feast of unleavened bread; or the feast of the first fruits of the wheat-harvest, because the loaves offered as first-fruits at that time were to be made of wheat flour, Exodus 34:22. On the Pentecost, see the lexicons.

Sixth ordinance.—The feast of ingathering.—Gathering or plucking characterizes this harvest: the fruit-harvest and vintage. Further particulars, as that it is to be held on the 15 th day of the 7 th month, seven days like that of unleavened bread, a feast of rich abundance in contrast with that of great privation, see in Leviticus 23:34, Numbers 29:12, Winer, Realwörterbuch, Art. Laubhüttenfest, [Smith’s Bible Dictionary, Art. Tabernacles, Feast of]. In the end of the year.—Knobel, on account of this passage, assumes that the Hebrews had two new-years, the one in autumn, when the agricultural season of the year ended with the harvesting of the fruits, and the following one, beginning with the ploughing and sowing of the fields. The former, he says, seems to have been the usual mode of reckoning in the East; and he cites many proofs, p235. His view that this is a contradiction of the Elohist, who puts the beginning of the year in the spring ( Exodus 12:2), is not perspicuous; neither, on the other hand, is Keil’s—that reference is here made only to the agricultural year, by which he must mean the natural seasons, II. p148. We find here a new proof that the Mosaic law distinguishes the civil from the religious ordinances. But because the civil is subordinate to the religious, the determinative regulation proceeds from the feast of Passover, as is seen especially from Numbers 29:12. That in Leviticus 23:34 the date is religious, is self-evident.

Exodus 23:17. Seventh ordinance. Three times in the year;i.e. of course at the three above mentioned feasts. The place where the Israelites are to appear before Jehovah, i.e. in the place where He reveals Himself, is not yet fixed, an omission explained by the fact that they were still wandering. That only the males are held obliged to do this, shows the civil side of this legislation. זָכוּר for זָכָר, thy males. “Probably,” says Keil, “from the twentieth year and upwards, those who were included in the census. Numbers 1:3. But this does not prohibit the admission of the women (comp. 1 Samuel 1:3 sqq.) and boys ( Luke 2:41 sqq.).” More exactly: by the side of the civil ordinance the religious custom was developed in a natural way. Knobel thinks he finds here another discrepancy, p235.

Exodus 23:18. Eighth ordinance. Not offer with leavened bread.—The duty of keeping sacred things pure is enjoined especially by references to the feast of the Passover. The connection of the feast of unleavened bread with the Passover is here assumed. Backwards and forwards the paschal feast is to be kept pure in view of the fact that the blood of the offering (i.e. of the offering emphatically so called, the Passover offering) belongs to Jehovah, that therefore the surrender must be unmixed. In reference to the past, therefore, everything leavened must be removed ( Exodus 12:15; Exodus 12:20). In reference to the future, the fatty parts of the paschal offering, which also belong to Jehovah, must not remain over night, and so serve for ordinary food. They must therefore be burned in the night. That cannot mean, as Knobel understands it, that the fatty pieces are to be at the outset separated from the paschal lamb, as was done with other offerings, since the lamb was to remain whole; but it was natural that the fatty parts would be for the most part left over; and then they were to be burned with the other things left over. Thus these fatty remains, which, however, were not burnt on the altar, became a type of the fatty pieces which were from the first designed for the altar. So then this regulation is made to refer to the more detailed laws of the festivals as found in Leviticus 2:11, etc. As the Passover was to be contrasted with the ordinary mode of life, so also with the feast of unleavened bread. The three stages are: (1) the old life (leaven); (2) the offering of life (Passover); (3) the beginning of the new life (unleavened bread).

Exodus 23:19. Ninth ordinance. Precept in reference chiefly to the feast of weeks, or the first feast of harvest, but with a more general significance. “The pentecostal loaves ( Leviticus 23:17) are meant,” says Knobel. Keil with reason understands the precept of a bringing of firstlings in general, vid. Numbers 18:12, Deuteronomy 26:2 sqq. “The sheaf of barley which was to be offered on the second day of the feast of unleavened bread ( Leviticus 23:10) belongs to the same” [Keil]. It may be asked how the expression רֵאשִׁית־בִּכּוּרֵי is to be understood; whether, according to the LXX, followed by Keil, as the first of the first fruits, the first gathering of the first fruits; or, according to Aben Ezra and others, including Knobel (p236), as the best, the choicest, of the first fruits. Inasmuch as not the very first that came to hand was also the best, the latter explanation is to be taken as a more precise statement of the other: the first, provided it was the best, or the first-fruits, properly so called (for not even every first-born beast was a true firstling). The chronological element in the term “first,” however, takes precedence, and forbids every delay and sequestration, according to Exodus 22:29. The meaning of these offerings is seen from the liturgical forms prescribed for them in Deuteronomy 26:3 sqq, 13sqq. Everything is a gift from Jehovah; therefore the first fruits are brought back to Him, and their acceptance is effected by the priest, who, however, represents also the Levites, the widows and orphans, and the stranger. As in the N. T. Christ pictures Himself to His church as poor, in the person of the poor and the little ones, so Jehovah in the O. T. symbolically pictures Himself as in a human state of want, in the priests under whose protection all, especially all needy ones stand. So then the church ought continually to care for the poor, as a religious duty.

Exodus 23:19. Tenth ordinance. Not boil a kid.—This precept seems strange, probably for the reason that it may be in a high degree symbolical. First, we must pronounce incorrect Luther’s translation: “Not boil the kid while it is at its mother’s milk” (vid. 1 Samuel 7:9). Other incorrect interpretations see in Knobel: (1) not to cook and eat meat and milk together; (2) injunction not to use butter instead of the oil of trees; (3) prohibition of an odious barbarity and cruelty. According to Knobel there is a reference to a custom of heathen religions which is to be kept away from the worship of Jehovah. Vid. his commentary, p237, where are accounts of Jewish opinions and Arabian usages. “Aben Ezra and Abarbanel,” he says, “mention, the boiling of the kid in milk by the Arabs of their time: and they are right. Up to the present day the Arabs generally boil the flesh of lambs in sour milk, thus giving to it a peculiar relish (Berggren, Reisen, etc.).” Further on Knobel, following Spencer, professes to give proofs that a peculiar superstition underlay the custom. But the heathen element, if there was one in the practice, might have been excluded without prohibiting the practice itself. If we assume that the precept in Exodus 23:18 referred to the first feast, and was designed to prevent the profanation of the offering, and that the one in Exodus 23:19 referred to the second one, and was designed to prevent the neglect of the peace-offering and the priesthood with its family of Levites and of the poor, it is natural, with Abarbanel and others, to refer this precept especially to the third feast; and because this was in the highest degree the joyous feast of the Israelites, it is furthermore probable that this prohibition was designed to prevent a luxury which was inconsistent with simple comfort, and which moreover was hideous in a symbolical point of view, the kid here being, as it were, tortured even in death by the milk of the dam. The same precept condemns all the heathen refinements of festive gormandizing, such as are still practiced (e.g. roasting live animals). This epicurism might also pitch upon the eating of unclean animals or other haut goût; vid. Deuteronomy 14:21, where the same prohibition is connected with the one before us. Keil’s explanation, that the practice marked a reversal of the divine order of things in regard to the relation between old and young, is less intelligible than that the kids were a very favorite article of food, according to Genesis 27:9; Genesis 27:14; Judges 6:19; Judges 13:15; 1 Samuel 16:20. To be sure, the usage considered in its symbolical aspect was a sort of unnature such as the keen sense of natural fitness which characterized the Mosaic laws rejected in every form, so that it even denounced the production of hybrid animals and grains, the mixing of different materials in cloth, as well as human misalliances, Leviticus 19:19-20.

h. The Promises. Exodus 23:20-33

That this last division also of the religio-civil legislation relates to the political commonwealth, is seen from the whole contents of it, especially from Exodus 23:22; Exodus 23:24 sqq, 27, 33. Knobel calls them “Some more promises;” Keil, “The conduct of Jehovah towards Israel.” The promises here given are not some, but a whole; not, however, the whole of Jehovah’s promises, but the sum of the civil and political blessings conditioned on good behavior. (1) Protection of angelic guidance, of the religion of revelation; and invincibility founded on religious obedience. (2) Victory over the Canaanites. Possession of the holy land on condition of their purifying the land from idolatry. (3) Abundance of food. (4) Blessing of health. (5) Fertility of man and beast, (6) Long life. (7) The respect and fear of all neighboring peoples. (8) Mysterious control of natural forces in favor of Israel, ver28. (9) The subjected Canaanites themselves made to serve for the protection of the growth of Israel. (10) Wide extent of territory and sure possession of it on condition of not mingling with the Canaanites and their idolatry.

Exodus 23:20-22. First promise. I send an angel.—That which the people, as the religious congregation of God, afterwards have imposed upon them as a check on account of their misbehavior (chap33), is here promised to the civil congregation as a protection. This cannot well be an anticipation, and cannot, with Knobel, be accounted for on the theory of “another narrator” who calls this angel פְּנֵי יְהוֹה. For in Exodus 33:2-3 two forms of revelation are clearly distinguished. In Exodus 33:18-19 this distinction is between the glory of Jehovah and the goodness of Jehovah. Further on it is said that no one can see the glory in its full display, i.e. Jehovah’s face, but can see its reflected splendor as it passes by in sacred obscurity ( Exodus 23:23). It is therefore a private relation between Jehovah and Moses, when Jehovah speaks with him face to face ( Exodus 33:11), and hence in Moses’ consciousness the two degrees of revelation go together. The prophet Moses stands as Abraham’s son higher than Moses the lawgiver. So Paul (in Galatians 3) distinguishes positively between the form of revelation which Abraham received and the form of revelation by which the people of Israel received the law ( Exodus 23:16; Exodus 23:19). This difference in degree is presented antithetically as early as in Jeremiah 31:32-34. It harmonizes entirely with this distinction, when the angel of Jehovah first appears to Hagar, Genesis 16:7; also in the circumstance that he directs her to return to the household to which she legitimately belonged. Comp. Genesis 21:17. Later also the immediate revelations made by God to Abraham are distinguished from the appearance of the angel of Jehovah in a legal aspect, Genesis 22:1; Genesis 22:11. The difference resembles that between inspiration and manifestation, as these two through ecstatic vision are made to assume forms different in degree. The angel of Jehovah is therefore the revelation of Jehovah for the people of Israel in a predominantly legal relation; hence also the form of the political theocracy as it is instituted through the mediation of Moses and Aaron, chiefly of Moses. The salvation of the people will depend on their obedience to the theocratic religion, as shaped by the higher form of the ceremonial revelation. This angel prepares the way for the Israelites, and conducts them to their goal. His countenance in the theocratic legal institutions is turned towards Israel; Jehovah’s name, the revelation of His essential being, is within him, under the cover of this angelic form. He requires awe; he can be easily offended; he punishes acts of disloyalty, for he is legal; hence he goes before Israel as the terror of God to intimidate the enemies. Knobel identifies this Angel of the Lord with the pillar of cloud and fire; and in fact this was a sign of the hidden presence of the angel, Exodus 33:9.

Exodus 23:23-24. Vid. Genesis 15:18 sqq. Annihilation of the public heathen worship in Canaan after its conquest by Israel. That the system of worship was connected with the morals, which were horrible and criminal, is even thus early made prominent. Vid. the parallel passages in Knobel, p238.

Exodus 23:25. The pure service of Jehovah is the condition of well-being and health; vid. Exodus 15:26 : comp. Leviticus 26:16; Leviticus 26:25; Deuteronomy 28:20. Bread and water, the most important articles of nutrition, symbols of all kinds of welfare.

Exodus 23:26. Prevention of miscarriages. Only one item in a whole category: diminution of the population through miscarriages, unchastity, conjugal sins against procreation, exposure of children, etc.; comp. Leviticus 26:9; Deuteronomy 28:11; Deuteronomy 30:9; vid. Isaiah 25:8; Isaiah 65:23. Respecting the blessing of long life, vid. chap, 20; Deuteronomy 5; 1 Corinthians 15:51.

Exodus 23:27. My fear.—This marks the sphere of intimidating influences exerted by the religious power of Israel on the heathen in general; whereas the hornets ( Exodus 23:28) represent the terrifying or destructive effects of this power in particular. Vid. Genesis 35:5; Exodus 15:14; Psalm 18:41 (40); Exodus 21:13 (12); Joshua 7:8; Joshua 7:12.

Exodus 23:28. Hornets.Vid. Deuteronomy 7:20; Wisdom of Solomon Exodus 12:8. Says Knobel: “According to Joshua 24the kings of the Amorites, Sihon and Og, were driven out not by Israel’s weapons, but by the צִרְעָה. Elsewhere neither the word nor the thing occurs in the O. T.” Different explanations: (1) The promise is literally meant. So Jarchi, Clericus, and others. (2) Plagues in general. So Saadias, Michaelis, and others. (3) The expression is figurative. So most modern interpreters. Yet the text evidently does not mean to identify the hornets with the great general terror of God, as Knobel holds, but distinguishes them from it as small, isolated, but very powerful evils, as Keil, following Augustine, has correctly observed. It is a question even whether the hornets are not meant to represent the same thing as the bees, Deuteronomy 1:44; Psalm 118:12; Isaiah 7:18. The bee frightens by the multitude of the irresistible swarm; the hornets by the frightful attack and sting of the individual insect. In the petty religious and moral conflicts between Judaism and heathenism, civilized Christian nations and barbarians, Indians, and other savages, it is just these hornets, these thousand-fold particular sources of terror, moral thorns, and even physical stings, under which the enemies gradually succumb. The three Canaanitish nations which are here named denote the totality; perhaps, however, in the heathen trinity may be found a reference to the spiritual impotence of heathenism.

Exodus 23:29. Not in one year.—Comp. Deuteronomy 7:22; Leviticus 26:22; Ezekiel 14:15; Ezekiel 14:21; 2 Kings 17:25; Joshua 13:1-7. From this it appears that the destruction denounced by Jehovah on the Canaanites was intended primarily for them in their collective and public capacity, not for the individuals. The individuals, in so far as they submit, Jehovah will allow, as individuals, to live; and to live, in so far as they remain heathen and enemies, for the purpose of preventing the wild beasts from getting the upper hand and diminishing the number of the people of Israel, which as yet is far too small to subdue the wild beasts, and the wildness of nature in general. The higher races of mankind are still indebted for this service to the lowest races throughout the five continents. Even savages constitute still a sort of barrier against what is monstrous in nature, which without them would lapse into wildness. These Canaanites serve this purpose only as being incorrigible. In proportion as nature is reclaimed, they sink away. It was therefore not the fact that these individuals continued to live in Israel, but that the Israelites mingled with them, which led to ruinous consequences. Comp. Judges 1, 2.

Exodus 23:31. Set thy bounds.Vid. Genesis 15:18. The Red Sea on the south—the sea of the Philistines, or Mediterranean Sea, on the west—the Arabian desert on the east ( Deuteronomy 11:24), the Euphrates on the north. These ideal boundaries are assured to the Israelites, in so far as they conduct themselves in relation to the heathen according to the ideal standard. Forming alliances with the heathen and recognizing their political existence would not of itself be actual apostasy, but it would be a snare to the Israelites through which they would be drawn into idolatry by way of false consistency in the policy of toleration. The lesson is to be applied even at the present day. The several precepts are given by Knobel, p241.


Footnotes:

FN#1 - Exodus 21:8. The Hebrew here, according to the K’thibh, is לֹא, and if this were followed, we should have to translate with Geddes, Rosenmüller and others: “so that he hath not betrothed (or will not betroth) her.” The K’ri reads לוֹ, “unto him” or “unto himself.” This yields much the easiest sense, and is especially confirmed by the consideration that יָעַד of itself means, not “betroth,” but “appoint,” “destine.” Followed by the Dative, it may in the connection convey the notion of betrothal; but used absolutely, it cannot convey it.—Tr.]

FN#2 - Exodus 21:13. אִנָּה cannot mean “deliver,” and no object is expressed. It is therefore unwarrantable to render, with A. V, “deliver him,” or even with Lange, “let him accidentally fall into his hand.” The object to be supplied is the indefinite one suggested by the preceding sentence, viz. homicide.—Tr.]

FN#3 - Exodus 21:17. קִלֵּל, though generally rendered “curse” in A. V, yet differs unmistakably from אָרַר in being used not merely of cursing, but of evil speaking in general, e.g. Judges 9:27 and 2 Samuel 16:9. The LXX. render it correctly by κακολογέω. And this word, where the passage is quoted in the New Testament, is rendered by the same Greek word, viz. Matthew 15:4.—Tr.]

FN#4 - Exodus 21:23. The Heb. reads בִּפְלִלִים, lit. “with judges” or “among judges.” Some render “unto the judges;” others “before the judges;” but the preposition does not naturally convey either of these senses. The A. V. probably expresses the true meaning: “with Judges,i.e. the line being judicially imposed.—Tr.]

FN#5 - Exodus 22:29. Literally: “thy fullness and thy tear.” The phrase “ripe fruits” is objectionable as including too much; “liquors” as suggesting a wrong conception. The first refers to the crops generally, exclusive of the olive and the grape, from which oil and wine, the liquid products (“tear”), were derived. Cranmer’s Bible renders, not inaptly: “thy fruits, whether they be dry or moist.”—Tr.]

FN#6 - Exodus 23:5. The rendering of A. V.: “and wouldest forbear,” is utterly untenable. Not less so is the rendering of עֲזֹב by “help.” The simplest explanation assumes a double meaning of עָזַב, viz. to “loose,” and to “leave.” We might borrow a vulgar phrase, and read: “Thou shalt forbear to cut loose from him, thou shalt cut loose with him.” De Wette and Murphy attempt to avoid the double meaning by emphasizing “with.” Thus: “Thou shalt forbear to leave it to him: thou shalt leave it with him.” But this is a nicety quite alien from the Hebrew.—Tr.]

FN#7 - The reasons are thus stated by Keil: “If the language in Exodus 21:9 is referred to the Song of Solomon, so as to mean, ‘when he takes to himself another wife,’ then there must be assumed a change of subject of which there is no indication; but if we understand the language to mean that the father (the purchaser) takes to himself another wife, then this precept ought to have been given before Exodus 21:9.”—Tr.]

FN#8 - This explanation of the order of the verses can hardly he regarded as satisfactory. In fact, any attempt to discover deep metaphysical or psychological reasons for the order and number of these laws is open to suspicion as implying a degree of subtlety and regard for logical order which was quite alien from the Hebrew spirit.—Tr.]

FN#9 - Viz. that the omission of the direction, “he shall surely be put to death,” implies that his punishment was something milder; as does also the spirit of the precept in Exodus 21:21.—Tr.]

FN#10 - According to whom, the Egyptians punished all murders with death; the Greeks punished all murders, but punished the murder of a slave only by requiring certain expiatory rites; the Roman law, however, until the time of the emperors, allowed masters to treat their slaves as they pleased.—Tr.]

FN#11 - See also Smith’s Bible Dictionary, Art. Weights and Measures.—Tr.]

FN#12 - I.e., about60 or62½ cents. Mr. Poole, in the article above referred to, makes the silver shekel = 220 grains, i.e., about53½ cents, or 2 shillings and 2 pence.—Tr.]

FN#13 - “The difference,” says Keil, l. c., “cannot be explained by the consideration ‘that the animal slaughtered or sold was lost to its owner, while yet it may have had for him a special individual value’ (Knobel), for such regard for personal feelings is foreign to the law, to say nothing of the fact that an animal when sold might have been regained by purchase; nor by the consideration that the thief in that case has carried his crime to a higher point (Baumgarten), for the main thing was the stealing, not the disposition or consumption of the stolen object. The reason can have lain only in the educational aim of the law, viz., to induce the thief to think of himself, recognize his sin, and restore what he has stolen.”—Tr.]

FN#14 - This is a mistake. Knobel translates: “If God makes (one) a malefactor, (i.e. if the court decides that a misdemeanor has been committed), then he shall restore double to his neighbor.” And in opposition to the translation. “whichever one God condemns, he shall restore double,” he says, “How could the plaintiff be condemned to make restitution, if Hebrews, even though the complaint was ungrounded, had yet taken nothing from the other?”—Tr.]

FN#15 - The majority of interpreters (like the A. V.) regard שָכִיר as referring to the beast, not the borrower. Knobel explains thus: “If the beast was not merely lent out of kindness, but let for pay, the loss comes upon the hire by the receipt of which the owner is paid. In fixing the hire he had regard to the danger of the loss, and, when the loss takes place, must content himself with the hire.” So Keil. The explanation of Knobel’s above referred to by Lange, is a second one, evidently not preferred by Knobel, but merely stated as possible, especially in view of the fact that שָׂכִיר everywhere else is used of men.—Tr.]

FN#16 - Knobel’s conjecture is that instead of וְדַל (“and a poor man”) we should read גָּדֹל (“a great man”)—since in Leviticus 19:15 it is the “mighty” who is not to be “honored,” and partiality to the poor “was not to be anticipated, and needed not to be forbidden.” Keil replies that this is sufficiently answered by the fact that the same passage has a command not to “respect the person of the poor.”—Tr.]

FN#17 - Hitzig l. c. holds that חֹדֶשׁ הָאָבִיב means the new moon of the month of green ears—to which Knobel replies that in that case the phrase “time appointed” would be superfluous; that the Hebrew expression, if חֹדֶשׁ means “new moon,” would have to be rendered “new moon of the green ears”—a very improbable translation; and that according to Leviticus 23:6 the festival was to begin on the fifteenth day of the month, i.e., at the time of the full moon.—Tr.]

 


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Exodus 21:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/exodus-21.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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