Exodus 21-22: “The Civil Law Is Given To Israel By God


Jim Bomkamp

Back          Bible Studies                Home Page

1.                  INTRO:


1.1.            In our last study, we looked at chapters 19 and 20 of Exodus.


1.1.1.      We saw that the children of Israel were led to Mt. Sinai.  Then, the Lord called Moses up to the mountain so that He might give to Moses and the children of Israel His law.


1.1.2.      We talked about this new covenant the children of Israel were entering into on Mt. Sinai which was based upon their commitment to observe the Law of Moses.


1.1.3.      We saw how that when the Lord first began to reveal Himself to man that He revealed Himself in His holiness and righteousness.  We discussed the fact that this is very important to consider because coming to salvation involves coming into relationship with a God who is totally holy and righteous.  Jesus Christ, having paid the full debt of our sin, becomes the Christian’s righteousness allowing us to be in God’s presence and come to know Him.


1.1.4.      We looked in depth at each of the Ten Commandments that were given to the children of Israel, that which is referred to as the “moral law” portion of the Law of Moses.


1.2.            In our study today, we are going to look at chapters 21-22 of the book of Exodus.


1.2.1.      In our last study we looked at the various breakdowns of the Law of Moses, and we saw that it consisted of the Ten Commandments (“Moral Law”), and the rest of the 913 ceremonial and civil laws. book of Leviticus contains those parts of the Law of Moses that contain the ceremonial law, and it contains those things that involve what God would have us to consider as ceremonial cleanness and uncleanness. chapters in our study today establish the “Civil Laws” of the Law of Moses, and these are the regulations that involve the just punishment and procedure to follow for crimes committed.


1.2.2.      As we look at these civil laws instituted and directly communicated by the Lord, we can see first of all that they reveal a morality that is far beyond that of the nations in that day.  They also reveal to us the fairness, goodness, and justice of God.  All nations derive to some degree their laws from these laws of the book of Exodus. 


1.2.3.      Psalm 19:7-10 tells us about the quality of God’s law, “7 The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether. 10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.”


2.                 VS 21:1-4  - 1 “Now these are the ordinances which you are to set before them: 2 “If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment. 3 “If he comes alone, he shall go out alone; if he is the husband of a wife, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 “If his master gives him a wife, and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out alone.  -  The Lord gives the law for requiring that any slaves a man takes shall be free in the seventh year, and that if he has a wife that she shall go out with him when he leaves


2.1.            I find it comforting to know that the first civil law that the Lord records for Israel has to do with slavery and seeing that slaves are treated fairly.  Slavery has been around from the beginning, but it is also one of the most horrendous institutions in the history of mankind.  Certainly the period in the history of our country that allowed slavery was one of our darkest.  Our nation once battled amongst ourselves over the cause of slavery. 


2.2.            Harper’s Bible Dictionary states the following about the Laws of Moses relative to slaves: 


Although the Bible acknowledges the slave’s status as the property of the master (Exod. 21:32; Lev. 25:46), it seeks to restrict the master’s power over the slave. The master was punished for excessive use of authorized force leading to the immediate death or permanent maiming of the slave (Exod. 21:20, 25-26). The slave was part of the master’s household (Lev. 22:11) and was required to rest on the Sabbath (Exod. 20:10; Deut. 5:14) and to participate in religious observances (Gen. 17:13; Exod. 12:44; Lev. 22:11; Deut. 12:12, 18; 16:11, 14).   In contrast to ancient Near Eastern treaties providing for the mutual extradition of fugitive slaves, biblical law prohibited such extradition and granted them asylum (Deut. 23:16-17; but cf. 1 Kings 2:39-40). The servitude of a Hebrew debt-slave was limited to six years (Exod. 21:2; Deut. 15:12; Jer. 34:14). Upon manumission, slaves were to receive gifts (Deut. 15:14) to enable them economically to maintain their new freedom. The servitude of voluntarily self-enslaved Hebrews ended with the onset of the Jubilee Year and their return to their patrimonies (Lev. 25:13, 40).


2.3.            A slave was to be set free after serving six years, and if he had a wife she would be freed with him at the same time.  But, if the slave’s master had given him a wife then his wife must remain with his master.


2.4.            Unique laws regarding a female slave are given later.


3.                 VS 21:5-6  - 5 “But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ 6 then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently. -  The law for becoming a ‘bond-slave’ for life is given by God


3.1.         If at the end of six years of service when a slave could be set free, he instead honored his master, he could choose to become a slave for life to his master.  The ceremony then to enact this was for the slave to have his master pierce his ear with an awl to make a permanent mark upon his showing his mater’s ownership.


3.2.         The Christian life is to be the life of a “bond-slave” of God, for the Christian has chosen of his own free will to submit himself to serve the Lord as His Master for his entire life.  The Lord is the benevolent master who deserves our love and service for life. The apostle Paul wrote of himself as being the Lord’s “bond-slave” (Rom. 1:1), and for him he bore the marks of being a bond-slave in his body, for he had received those as a result of following Christ:


3.2.1.  Galatians 6:17, “17 From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.” 


3.2.2.  2 Corinthians 11:23-27, “23 Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.”


3.3.         For a deeper symbol here, we can think about the Lord Jesus Christ.  In His incarnation he willingly submitted Himself to be the Lord’s “bond-servant” and performed everything that was commanded Him from His father, and He forever bears in His body the marks from His master, for he was a “bond-servant” as well:


3.3.1.  John 20:27, “27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing. 


3.3.2.  Revelation 5:6, “6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.”


4.                 VS 21:7-11  - 7 “If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do. 8 “If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his unfairness to her. 9 “If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. 10 “If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. 11 “If he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money. -  The laws regarding a daughter that is sold as a slave to another are given by God


4.1.         The next law has to do with a ‘female slave.’  A ‘female slave’ was unique because she could be as a secondary wife to her master or to her master’s son.  Being in that position as an indentured slave she was vulnerable and needed protection through the law. 


4.2.         If a man sold his daughter to be a female slave, the girl would not automaticallygo free’ in six years as was the case of a male slave.  However, if the master found the girl to be ‘displeasing’ to him, he could allow her to be redeemed (30 pieces of silver was the price of freedom for a slave), but not to a ‘foreign people.’ 


4.3.         Likewise, if a man gave a female slave to his son as a wife, then she would have all of the rights of any other wife of an Israelite.  And, if the son then took other wives after taking her as his wife, he could not ‘reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights.’  However, if the son was not willing to do these things, then he had to grant her complete freedom with no price of redemption necessary for her release.


5.                 VS 21:12-14, 18-19  - 12 “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. 13 “But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint you a place to which he may flee. 14 “If, however, a man acts presumptuously toward his neighbor, so as to kill him craftily, you are to take him even from My altar, that he may die18 “If men have a quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist, and he does not die but remains in bed, 19 if he gets up and walks around outside on his staff, then he who struck him shall go unpunished; he shall only pay for his loss of time, and shall take care of him until he is completely healed. -  The laws regarding what constitutes murder verses manslaughter are given by God


5.1.         Here we see the laws that differentiate between the committing of murder and accidental manslaughter.  The accidental killing of someone in which you did not plan to murder would allow a person to ‘flee’ to a place that the Lord promises He will ‘appoint you.’  The cities of refuge were later established by the Lord as places where a man who committed manslaughter could flee and be protected from being killed by vengeful relatives of the one died.


5.2.         Easton’s Bible Dictionary writes the following about the laws regarding ‘murder’ in the Law of Moses: 


Willful murder was distinguished from accidental homicide, and was invariably visited with capital punishment (Num. 35:16, 18, 21, 31; Lev. 24:17). This law in its principle is founded on the fact of man’s having been made in the likeness of God (Gen. 9:5, 6; John 8:44; 1 John 3:12, 15). The Mosiac law prohibited any compensation for murder or the reprieve of the murderer (Ex. 21:12, 14; Deut. 19:11, 13; 2 Sam. 17:25; 20:10). Two witnesses were required in any capital case (Num. 35:19–30; Deut. 17:6–12). If the murderer could not be discovered, the city nearest the scene of the murder was required to make expiation for the crime committed (Deut. 21:1–9).


5.3.         The Lord says that if a person who had been struck lived and walked around for a day and then died that the person who struck him would not be held accountable for his death.  In that case the person would only be responsible to pay for his time off of work or whatever care he might need until he healed up.


6.                 VS 21:15, 17  - 15 “He who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death17 “He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. -  The laws prohibiting striking or cursing your father or mother are given by God


6.1.         The fifth of the Ten Commandments was that a person has to honor his/her father and mother, and yet it was not defined what it meant to do this.


6.2.         Here we see that striking or cursing a father or mother was an offense that was to be punishable by death.


7.                 VS 21:16  - 16 “He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death. -  The law prohibiting kidnapping is given by God


7.1.         The Lord declares that there is no excuse for kidnapping. 


7.2.         Te penalty for kidnapping was to be ‘death.’


8.                 VS 21:20-21, 26-27  - 20 “If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished. 21 “If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property26 “If a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye. 27 “And if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth. -  The laws pertaining to punishment for injuring or killing your slave are given by God


8.1.         Here is yet another law that was designed for the protection of slaves.  Slaves have throughout history been considered as sub-human creatures and therefore it has often not been looked at as a crime if a person beat his slave.


8.2.         This law declared that if a man struck his male or female slave and then the slave died, he would be punished.  The expectation then would be that this would be a capital crime because the law was based upon an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”  Causing death would result in death.


8.3.         If however the slave, after being struck, ‘survives a day or two’ before dying, then the owner at that time was not to be punished, and for this ‘no vengeance shall be taken.’


8.4.         Causing serious injury to your slave such as knocking out his eye or tooth would result in having to give your slave his freedom immediately.


9.                 VS 21:22-25  - “22 “If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. 23 “But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” -  The law is given regarding the punishment for striking a woman who is pregnant by God


9.1.         The first law here involves a man somehow striking a woman in such a way that she ‘gives birth prematurely.’  If there was ‘no injury´ other than the premature delivery, then the man was to be ‘fined´ to the extent that the woman’s husband ‘may demand of him.’  This sounds like a law that might have to be ruled upon in a court of law since unrealistic fines could be exacted and some intermediary would have to determine what was truly fair.


9.2.         But, if there was some injury to the woman or her baby as a result of the man striking her, then a judge would have to ‘appoint’ an appropriate penalty, and then penalty would have to be appropriate to the injury:  eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.’


10.            VS 21:28-32  - 28 “If an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall surely be stoned and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall go unpunished. 29 “If, however, an ox was previously in the habit of goring and its owner has been warned, yet he does not confine it and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned and its owner also shall be put to death. 30 “If a ransom is demanded of him, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is demanded of him. 31 “Whether it gores a son or a daughter, it shall be done to him according to the same rule. 32 “If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall give his or her master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned. -  The laws are given by God regarding when a man’s ox gores someone to death


10.1.    People need to be responsible for what their animals do.  It is almost daily in our country that we read about someone’s dog(s) attacking and mauling a person.  The owner is held responsible for such things, especially where “negligence” is involved.


10.2.    Here if someone’s ox gets out and ‘gores a man or a woman to death,’ then the ox ‘shall be stoned and its flesh not eaten,’ but the owner ‘shall go unpunished.’ 


10.3.    Here is where the penalty for “negligence” comes in.  If a person was gored to death and the person’s ox was previous ‘in the habit of goring and its owner had been warned’ about this and yet did not ‘confine it,’ then the animal and its owner ‘shall be put to death.’ 


10.4.    The family of the one who was gored to death could choose rather than to put the owner to death, to “demand a ransom,” and in this case the ransom would have to be paid by the owner to keep him from being put to death. 


10.5.    These laws are to be carried out the same whether or not it is a man, woman, or a ‘son or a daughter’ who is gored.


10.6.    In the case of a ‘male or female slave’ who is gored to death, then the owner would be required to pay the master of that one gored to death the redemption price for a slave of ‘thirty shekels of silver.’  The animal itself was to be stoned in this case.


11.            VS 21:33-34  - 33 “If a man opens a pit, or digs a pit and does not cover it over, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, 34 the owner of the pit shall make restitution; he shall give money to its owner, and the dead animal shall become his. -  The law is given by God about what to do if you dig a pit and not cover it and someone’s ox or donkey falls into it


11.1.    This law has to do with the issue of negligence on your own property.  Here a man ‘opens a pit’ or digs one but he doesn’t think about others and the dangers that might befall people, and so he ‘does not cover it over.’  Then, an ‘ox or a donkey’ falls into this pit.  This law states that the person shall then have to ‘give money to its owner’ and the dead animal will now ‘become his.’


11.2.    The offender in this case suddenly found himself having to pay the fair market value for an animal of the type as fell into his pit, and the result was that he got to keep the animal’s carcass.


12.            VS 21:35-36  - 35 “If one man’s ox hurts another’s so that it dies, then they shall sell the live ox and divide its price equally; and also they shall divide the dead ox. 36 “Or if it is known that the ox was previously in the habit of goring, yet its owner has not confined it, he shall surely pay ox for ox, and the dead animal shall become his. -  The law is given by God about what to do if your ox gores or hurts another man’s ox


12.1.    Here is the situation where one man’s animal kills another man’s animal such ‘that it dies.’ 


12.2.    The person that owns an ox which through the man’s “negligence” kills another man’s animal, he has just bought himself an ox at the current going rate for buying oxen.


13.             VS 22:1  - 1 “If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.  -  The law was given by God about what to do if someone steals a sheep or ox


13.1.    Theft is a particularly heinous crime and causes anxiety and great inconvenience for people. 


13.2.    The penalty assigned to someone who is caught having stolen a sheep or ox and slaughtered it, is ‘five’ times what was stolen.


14.            VS 22:2-4  - 2 “If the thief is caught while breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there will be no bloodguiltiness on his account. 3 But if the sun has risen on him, there will be bloodguiltiness on his account. He shall surely make restitution; if he owns nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. 4 “If what he stole is actually found alive in his possession, whether an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double.-  The law is given by God about what to do if someone injures a thief while he is breaking in


14.1.    Breaking into someone’s house in the dark of night causes them to become very afraid for their life and the lives of their family members.  Therefore, the law states here that if a person strikes one who is in the act of breaking into his house at night, then there will be no penalty for his act of killing the man:  no bloodguiltiness on his account.’ 


14.2.    But, if a man breaks into your house during the day when you can see, and you kill him, in other words ‘the son has risen on him,’ then you will be guilty of murder and it shall be a capital offense.


14.3.    Further, if a thief is caught and the animal he stole is in his possession, then that man is to just pay double for the animal he has stolen.  If the thief does not have the ability to pay double for the theft then he shall lose his freedom and become your slave.


15.             VS 22:5-6  - 5 “If a man lets a field or vineyard be grazed bare and lets his animal loose so that it grazes in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard. 6 “If a fire breaks out and spreads to thorn bushes, so that stacked grain or the standing grain or the field itself is consumed, he who started the fire shall surely make restitution. -  The laws are given by God about what to do if your animal is let loose and grazes in another field, or if you started a fire that burned another man’s field


15.1.    This first law has to do with keeping your animals out of other people’s fields where they may eat or damage their crop.  The penalty for your animal eating your neighbor’s crops was to ‘make restitution,’ in other words you were required to pay back whatever was eaten.


15.2.    The second law has to do with starting fires that end up burning other people’s property or fields.  The penalty again was for the arsonist to ‘make restitution’ of whatever was damaged because he had set the fire.


16.            VS 22:7-9  - 7 “If a man gives his neighbor money or goods to keep for him and it is stolen from the man’s house, if the thief is caught, he shall pay double. 8 “If the thief is not caught, then the owner of the house shall appear before the judges, to determine whether he laid his hands on his neighbor’s property. 9 “For every breach of trust, whether it is for ox, for donkey, for sheep, for clothing, or for any lost thing about which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before the judges; he whom the judges condemn shall pay double to his neighbor. -  The laws are given by God governing what to do when someone gives you something to keep for him and it gets stolen


16.1.    This law has to do with those situations where you have been given ‘money or goods’ by someone to keep for them, then those are stolen from you.  If the thief is caught in that case, then ‘he shall pay double.’  But, if the thief is not caught then you would have to appear before a judge in order for him to determine if somehow you were negligent in taking care of the person’s stuff. 


16.2.    If it turns out that a thief was not caught and the judge determines that somehow you had laid hands on your neighbor’s property, then you would have to ‘pay double’ for what is missing.


17.            VS 22:10-13  - 10 “If a man gives his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep for him, and it dies or is hurt or is driven away while no one is looking, 11 an oath before the Lord shall be made by the two of them that he has not laid hands on his neighbor’s property; and its owner shall accept it, and he shall not make restitution. 12 “But if it is actually stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner. 13 “If it is all torn to pieces, let him bring it as evidence; he shall not make restitution for what has been torn to pieces. -  The law is given by God about what to do if your neighbor gives you a donkey, ox, sheep, or any animal to keep for him and it dies or is hurt or is driven away


17.1.    This is similar to the previous law.  It involves what to do if someone gives you any animal to keep for him and while it is in your care ‘it dies or is hurt or is driven away.’  The first thing that was required was that you had to make an oath that you had not laid hands on your neighbor’s property, and in that case your neighbor had to accept that oath as being credible.  He was supposed to take your word.  If the oath was accepted, then you were not required to make repayment.  If that oath was contested, your neighbor could take you to court for a decision.


17.2.    If the animal however was stolen from you while you were keeping it for your neighbor, then a previous law kicked into affect, and you would be required to make double restitution.


17.3.    But, if the animal was ‘torn to piece’ by a predator while in your care, then you were not required to make restitution.


18.            VS 22:14-15  - 14 “If a man borrows anything from his neighbor, and it is injured or dies while its owner is not with it, he shall make full restitution. 15 “If its owner is with it, he shall not make restitution; if it is hired, it came for its hire. -  The law is given by God about what to do if you borrow anything from your neighbor and it is injured or dies while its owner is not with it


18.1.    Here, we see that if a man borrowed anything from his neighbor and it is injured or died while he had it, then he is to ‘make full restoration.’


18.2.    The first caveat here is that if the owner happened to be there when the calamity occurred, then he would not be liable for it.


18.3.    The second caveat is that if the man was renting the animal when the injury occurred then the amount of his rent is all that he would have to pay to the owner.


19.            VS 22:16-17  - 16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife. 17 “If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the dowry for virgins. -  The law is given by God about what to do if a man is found to have seduced a virgin who is not engaged and lies with her


19.1.    If a young woman were to have sexual relations before marriage, then her worth to other men was greatly reduced, and thus the dowry that her father was to receive when she married would be compromised.  This law was for protection primarily for the fathers of young women.   


19.2.    Here we see that if a man seduced a virgin who was not engaged and she had relations with him, then he was to take her for ‘his wife,’ and he was also required to ‘pay a dowry’ to her father.


19.3.    According to Deut. 22:23-24, if the girl had been betrothed when this seduction and sexual relations occurred it would have resulted in stoning for both parties.


19.4.    If the father refused to give his daughter to the man, he was still required to pay a typical ‘dowry for virgins.’


20.            VS 22:18  - 18 “You shall not allow a sorceress to live. -  The law is given by God prohibiting a sorceress to exist


20.1.    This is a prohibition of females who practiced sorcery, which was the telling of the future through spirits.  Deut. 18:9-12 speaks in more detail to the type of thing that is prohibited here:  9 “When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. 10 “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 “For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you.


20.2.    The Bible Knowledge Commentary has the following comments on this Deut. 18:9-12 passage:


All these practices are forbidden because they divorce life from morality. Several factors make this clear: (1) The future was “determined” by one’s moral behavior, not by magical manipulation. (2) Using magic to manipulate one’s circumstances was in essence a futile attempt to flee from the Lord’s ethical laws which promoted life and blessing. (3) The use of magic and divination (vv. 10, 14) was a refusal to acknowledge the sovereignty of the Lord. (4) Reliance on these practices indicated a corresponding failure to trust the Lord with one’s life. People who are knowledgeable of the occult and demon possession quickly point out that the practices mentioned in verses 9-14 have led many into satanic bondage.


Divination (vv. 10, 14), from the verb qāsam, “to divide,” means to give false prophecy or seek to determine the will of the gods by examining and interpreting omens. (Qāsam is also used in Josh. 13:22; 1 Sam. 6:2; 28:8; 2 Kings 17:17; Isa. 3:2; 44:25; Jer. 27:9; 29:8; Ezek. 13:6, 9, 23; 21:21, 23, 29; 22:28; Micah 3:6-7, 11; Zech. 10:2.) Sorcery (‘ānan, Deut. 18:10, 14; cf. Lev. 19:26; 2 Kings 21:6; Isa. 2:6; Micah 5:12, “cast spells”) is the attempt to control people or circumstances through power given by evil spirits (demons). To interpret omens is to tell the future based on “signs” such as the movements of birds, fire, or rain. Witchcraft (kāšap̱) involves practicing magic by incantations. One who casts spells is literally “one who ties knots” (ḥāḇar), thus one who binds other people by magical mutterings. A spiritualist is one who supposedly communicates with the dead but who actually communicates with demons. One who consults the dead may mean the spiritist’s attempt to contact the dead to gain advice, information on the future, or help in manipulation.


Such detestable practices were one reason the Lord used Israel to destroy the Canaanites. Therefore it was understandably detestable for an Israelite to become involved in those things. By avoiding them the Israelites would be blameless of their terrible sins.


21.            VS 22:19  - 19 “Whoever lies with an animal shall surely be put to death. -  The law is given by God prohibiting sodomy with an animal


21.1.    Bestiality is what is referred to here, and it was of concern because it was practiced in Canaanite Baal worship (cf. Lev. 20:16; Deut. 27:21; Lev. 18:23-24):


21.1.1.Leviticus 20:16:  16 If there is a woman who approaches any animal to mate with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.” 


21.1.2.Deuteronomy 27:21:  21 Cursed is he who lies with any animal.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’” 


21.1.3.Leviticus 18:23-24:  23 Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion. 24 ‘Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled.


22.            VS 22:20  - 20 “He who sacrifices to any god, other than to the Lord alone, shall be utterly destroyed. -  The law is given by God prohibiting sacrificing to any other god


22.1.    Anyone in the nation of Israel who sacrificed to any other god than the Lord was to be stoned to death.


23.            VS 22:21-24  - 21 “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. 22 “You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. 23 “If you afflict him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry; 24 and My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless. -  The laws are given prohibiting oppressing or afflicting strangers, widows, and orphans


23.1.    The Lord wanted the Israelites to realize how vulnerable foreigners were by reminding them about the fact that they themselves once were foreigners when they lived in Egypt.  Foreigners were not to be taken advantage of by God’s people because God’s people should be a light to the nations and draw them to the Lord.


23.2.    The Lord especially wants His people to watch out for and protect the weak, vulnerable, and helpless.  Widows and orphans are at the top of that list, and taking advantage of them or ignoring their needs would cause God’s ‘anger’ to be ‘kindled.’


23.3.    The Lord says that He hears the cries of the orphan, indicating that He will be moved to act on his behalf.


23.4.    The Bible Knowledge Commentary includes the following about orphans:  “Grain was to be left behind for widows and orphans during harvest (Deut. 24:19-21) including the edges of fields (Lev. 19:9-10). The helpers were to be given special hospitality at feasts (Deut. 16:11-14), to receive a special tithe every third year (Deut. 14:28-29; 16:12-13), and to be allowed to plant crops in others’ fields during the sabbatical year (Ex. 23:11-12).”


24.            VS 22:25  - 25 “If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, you are not to act as a creditor to him; you shall not charge him interest. -  The law is given by God prohibiting the charging of interest in lending


24.1.    Here the prohibition was to charging interest if you lend money to anyone.


24.2.    Wouldn’t our world be a different place today if we never charged anyone interest. 


25.            VS 22:26-27  - 26 “If you ever take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you are to return it to him before the sun sets, 27 for that is his only covering; it is his cloak for his body. What else shall he sleep in? And it shall come about that when he cries out to Me, I will hear him, for I am gracious. -  The law is given by God about taking your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge


25.1.    When a poor person was in need of borrowing money or purchasing something, he could borrow money but leave his cloak (coat) as pledge.  The prohibition here is that if he did this that he had to have his cloak returned to him every not by sunset so that he could use it for a blanket when he slept at night.


25.2.    Deuteronomy 24:10-13 tells us more about how this law was to work:  10 “When you make your neighbor a loan of any sort, you shall not enter his house to take his pledge. 11 “You shall remain outside, and the man to whom you make the loan shall bring the pledge out to you. 12 “If he is a poor man, you shall not sleep with his pledge. 13 “When the sun goes down you shall surely return the pledge to him, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you; and it will be righteousness for you before the Lord your God.


26.            VS 22:28  - 28 “You shall not curse God, nor curse a ruler of your people. -  The law is given by God prohibiting cursing God or a ruler


26.1.    The person who cursed God or a ruler in Israel was to be put to death.


27.            VS 22:29-30  - 29 “You shall not delay the offering from your harvest and your vintage. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. 30 “You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me. -  The Lord institutes that a person’s offering is not to be delayed, and also that the firstborn of sons, oxen, and sheep


27.1.    Verse 29 is an admonition to always make your tithes of your firstfruits of harvest and never hold onto your offering until later.


27.2.    The law is also given to make sure that you commit the firstborn of your oxen and sheep on the eighth day after its birth.


28.            VS 22:31  - 31 “You shall be holy men to Me, therefore you shall not eat any flesh torn to pieces in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs. -  The Lord prohibits eating any flesh of animals that has been torn to pieces in the field


28.1.    Finally, any flesh of animals that was ‘torn to pieces in the field’ could not be eaten by people, although you were allowed to feed your dogs with the flesh.


29.            CONCLUSIONS:


29.1.    C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity something to the effect that many today say that they don’t believe that God’s word contains absolute truth, and that the His laws do not define what is right and wrong.  But, lets say he does not believe that it is wrong to steal.  His opinion on that will change when someone steals something of his.  If he believes that adultery is not wrong, his attitude towards that will change when his wife has an affair.  This will be true with all of God’s laws.  The truth and rightness of all of God’s laws are verified in the same manner.


29.2.    When we realize the goodness, holiness, and righteousness of the Lord as revealed in His law (just as Psalm 19:7-10 says, “7 The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether. 10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.”), then we know that He knows our human condition and always what will be best for our lives.  We know that we can trust him with our lives and that what He desires for our lives is always the very best that could happen to us.  His laws aren’t arbitrary they proscribe the things that will be best for all involved.


Back          Bible Studies                Home Page













cf. confer, compare