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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

November 8, 2017

Exodus  21:22-22:15

  1. We didn’t get to finish up from last week’s discussion on laws that discouraged violence especially on the weak and vulnerable. We shared last week that the laws were templates for bigger ideas. The big idea is that we love our neighbor and that means we show love and respect for everyone no matter their station in life.

  2. Verses 22-25. These are protections for unborn children. The life of an unborn child is to be protected. If a pregnant woman is hit and a premature birth is caused, the consequence is payment if the baby survives and the woman is not seriously injured. If a death occurs, there was a severe penalty. The wording used eye for an eye and tooth for tooth meant that the injured party could demand the death of any person in the offender’s family. This is a law that is supposed to teach the people to be extremely careful around women who are pregnant and to protect unborn children. Even if the injuries were minor, the husband and the courts could impose a very high fine.

  3. Verses 28-32. These are protections against negligent animal owners. The point here is that a person is responsible for their animals. Animals are dangerous and the burden is on the owner to keep others safe from their animals. If the animals did it one time, the animal is to be killed and the owner is not responsible, but if the animal has a habit of being unruly, the owner is to kill the animal and the owner faced death as well. The owner could avoid death if the victim demanded payment. If the animal hurt a slave, the owner is to kill the animal and pay the owner of the servant enough to compensate for lost work. In every case, the animal that creates a serious injury is to be killed. Animals that attack and bite tend to do it again. This is a protection against animal violence. To knowingly keep an animal that is dangerous is deliberately putting the safety of others at risk. This is irresponsible and reckless. The cost of a bull was significant, so in this case, the cost is very high.

  4. Verses 33-34. This law to protect animals from the negligence of people. In this case, a person must realize that an animal might not see a danger that would be apparent to a human. Precautions and safety measures must be used to protect animals from injury and death. The death of an animal like a donkey would be a significant loss, and that loss must be reimbursed. The idea here is that if I am doing some work, I need to think about any danger to others and property of others.

  5. Verses 35-36. This law speaks about fairness. If your animal kills my animal, I need to be compensated. If it was an accident, we split the money of the sale of your animal. If it was the result of a bad animal that has hurt before, I get all the money from the sale of your animal. The idea is that accidents happen and when they do, we have to be fair to help a person who lost, but also not take from person who lost as well in the accident. The other idea is about being responsible and realizing that being irresponsible can be very expensive. Being responsible is about not just doing the right thing, but thinking about how your actions affect others around you.

  6. Chapter 22. The specific instructions about restitution and penalties for thievery accomplished two aims. First, they made the thief responsible for returning the original owner to his original state or fully compensating him for his loss. Second, they punished and educated the thief by causing him to experience the full pain that he had caused for the victim.

  7. Verse 1. Notice that the thief must pay back more than he stole. 400-500% penalties were the punishment for thievery of valuable animals. Simple restitution would not deter any thief, but the threat of going into indentured service was real.

  8. Verses 2-4. Thievery was not a capital offense that called for the death penalty. The law made provision for a person that was caught off guard by a thief in the night and killed him. The homeowner was not supposed to try and kill a thief if they caught them in the daytime. The assumption is that the person’s life was not in jeopardy. This is not referring to self-defense. The idea here is that if you knew it was a property crime (because it was visible and clearly obvious) and not a violent crime (at dark and can’t see or determine) a person was not to become an executioner. The thief must make restitution in the form of indentured service or paying double.

  9. Verse 5. Once again, an owner is responsible for their animals. If a person has animals that stray and eat from another’s field, the owner must make restitution from the best of his fields. Your animals might eat some weeds, but you had to repay with the best grain. What is the idea? Pay attention to your animal and be responsible.

  10. Verse 6. People must be responsible for fires. It was not uncommon for a person to need a fire for cooking or heat, but in all that they do, they must be careful. A fire could get out of hand quickly and great damage could occur. In this case, the restitution was 100% of the loss.

  11. Verses 7-9. If someone gives you something to hold for them, you are responsible for it as a faithful steward or manager. If something is stolen, the thief is commanded to pay double. If the thief is not found, the matter is to be taken to the judges for them to hear the case and determine if there was an actual thief. Restitution was paid according to a pre-determined amount or percentage; it was not left to the whims of the victims or the judges. Everybody had to pay double when found guilty.

  12. Verses 10-13. When testimony was given, a man's word was taken as true unless proven otherwise. This is basis of the legal principle of the accused being innocent unless proven guilty. In cases where something happened that would be considered outside of the hands of the person taking care of the animal, after swearing to tell the truth the person who was entrusted would not be liable. For instance, a sheep just happened to get sick while in your care, if there wasn’t any negligence, you were not responsible. If the animal was stolen, then negligence could be established and you had to pay restitution. If a wild animal came in and killed the animal entrusted the remains needed to be shown to prove it wasn’t negligence. No restitution was required in that case.

  13. Verses 14-15. This applies to borrowing an animal. Most likely in the case of an ox or animal that would provide labor. If the animal died while the owner was there, the borrower was not responsible, but if the owner wasn’t there, the borrower was responsible. Like when someone borrows another person’s tools.

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