Exodus 21-23

Sunday Evening Bible Study

April 20, 1997


After four hundred years, the descendants of Israel have been in brought out of the bondage in Egypt.

Now the process begins of bringing the nation into the Promised Land.

The journey in the wilderness begins.

It also includes a people coming to know what God's standards are like.

And so we have the giving of the Law.

Exodus 21

We now move into a section where some of the various laws are detailed out, to bring order in the nation.

vs.1-11 - rights of slaves. (summarize)

This is kind of difficult, why doesn't God just abolish slavery outright?

I'm not too sure, but I would imagine it had something to do with the economy of the world at the time. Much of the world's population up through the time of Christ was slaves.

Rather than just outright abolish it, God begins to make some changes in slavery, beginning in the Law.

Jesus will go even further:

GAL 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

:2 an Hebrew servant,

If you bought a fellow Israeli as a slave, you could only keep him for six years, and on the seventh he would be free.

Slavery, at least among Israelis, was not meant to be permanent.

:4 If his master gives him a wife

Then the master gets to keep the wife if the man wants to leave after six years.


:6 bore his ear through with an aul

And then the slave would wear a ring in the ear, to keep the wound open.

An earring meant that you were a willing slave to your master.

Some Christians pierce their ears as a way of showing that they are a permanent servant of Jesus Christ.

David wrote Ė

(Psa 40:6-8 KJV) Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. {7} Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, {8} I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

Opened ears speaks of ears being pierced for a ring.

:7 if a man sell his daughter

Women had the lowest place in society.

Hey ladies, you've come a long way!

:8 who hath betrothed her to himself

If a man buys a female slave, and marries her, if he doesn't like her, he can sell her, but he can't sell her to a foreigner.

This sounds tough, but it's a lot better than women had before the Law.

:9 if he have betrothed her unto his son,

If the female slave marries the son, then she becomes a full daughter-in-law, not a slave anymore.

I wonder if there's anything here about the church and Christ?

:10 shall he not diminish

Keep in mind, polygamy was practiced, and the Law doesn't clearly outlaw it.

But as Jesus said, it had been clear from the beginning.

God made one man and one woman.

God's pattern was meant to be for all of us.

Here, if a man took another woman as a wife, he still had to give the first gal the same priveleges as before.

:11 go out free Ö

If the man didn't give the woman food, clothing, and children, then she could be free from her slavery.

:12 He that smiteth a man,

Those that use the command "thou shalt not kill" to take away capital punishment ought to look at this.

:13 I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee.

In the culture of that day, if you killed a person, even accidentally, then the family of that person was bound by oath to hunt you down and kill you in revenge.

They were called the "avenger of blood".

Yet God's law broke that cycle of "feud" killings, by setting up "cities of refuge", where a person guilty of manslaughter (not murder) could run to and hide, and would be protected from the "avenger of blood".

We'll get to more of this later.

:14 if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay

A person who accidentally kills another person could run to the altar of God and cling to it, pleading for mercy.

There were laws against killing a person guilty only of involuntary manslaughter.

But a man who is planning on murdering another person canít come to Godís altar and beg for mercy.

:16 he that stealeth a man

Kidnapping was worthy of the death penalty.

:17 he that curseth his father, or his mother


I wonder how many of us should be put to death?


Teach kids respect.

I think we need to be careful to teach our kids to respect their parents.

Iím very concerned when I see children back-talk their parents, and the parents just allow it to happen.

I know the feeling, you donít want to have to stick up for yourself.

But the problem is that your kids arenít learning to respect others.

If God says itís worthy of death, I think we ought to at least consider the paddle when our kids get that angry, rebellious tone in their voice, but be very careful and make sure you donít do it for revenge sake, but that you are training them to be respectful.

Ideally it would be neat if Dads would spank the kids when they talk back to Mom, and vice-versa, but you arenít always both around.

:19 he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay

If two guys are fighting, and one gets seriously hurt, but later recovers, the one with the tough fists ought to pay for the guyís lost wages and his medical expenses, but that's all. Sorry, no million dollar settlements for "pain and suffering".

:20 if a man smite his servant Ö

A slave owner was punished if the slave died, but not punished if the slave recovered.

Keep in mind, as tough as this sounds to us, in other cultures of that day, a slave owner could put his slave to death without any punishment.

:22 hurt a woman with child Ö

The gal gets caught between two fighting men, and she goes into premature labor.

The case given in verse 23 is when a woman gives birth prematurely, but baby and mother are okay.

In that case, the guilty man only has to pay whatever the father of the child decides.

:23 if any mischief follow

In other words, if the baby dies, or the mother diesÖ

Then there is capital punishment, life for life.

:24 eye for eye

Question: How does a Christian look at this in light of Jesus' words about an eye for an eye?

(Mat 5:38-39 KJV) Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: {39} But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Answer: We need to make a difference between personal and governmental responsibility.What we read in Exodus are the standards of governmental responsibility. Those by which a government should make it's judgments. It's what our judicial system should be based upon. (Rom. 13:3-4)

But as individuals, we should not be out for our own revenge.

I wonder what would happen to our justice system if some of these killers, rapists, and attackers were given what they gave out?

:28 If an ox gore Ö

This isn't an Al Gore, but an ox gore Ö

:28 his flesh shall not be eaten

This is quite a punishment for the owner, to lose his ox, and not even get any steaks out of it.

:29 if the ox were wont to push with his horn

If the ox had a reputation for being dangerous, and the owner didnít do anything to stop the ox or protect others, then not only would the ox be killed, but the owner as well.

I wonder about people who have vicious dogs, but donít do anything to keep them under control.

:30 ransom of his life

In other words, the owner could pay a penalty instead of dying, but just in regard to a case like this.

Exodus 22

:1 he shall restore five oxen for an ox

We call this restitution.

Whatever you steal, you have to return not just the item, but "interest" as well, up to five times the value of the stolen item.

We see this lived out in real life several times in the Bible, one of them with that famous "little" man, Zacchaeus:

(Luke 19:8 KJV) And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

:2 If a thief be found breaking up

If you kill the guy breaking into your house, you're not liable for his death, unless it happens in broad daylight, then you're guilty.

Now a days, if a thief is injured while breaking into your house, you might get sued by him!

:5 cause a field or vineyard to be eaten

If somebody lets their ox loose in your field, and the ox eats up all your best fruit.

:7 unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen

Like when you loan your neighbor your lawnmower, and it gets stolen while it's at your neighbor's house.

:11 Then shall an oath of the LORD be between them both,

If nobody was a witness to what happened to your stuff while it was at your neighbor's house, then your neighbor would swear an oath that he didn't steal it, and that would be the end of it.

:15 But if the owner thereof be with it, he shall not make it good:

If you brought your ox with you to help your neighbor plow his field, and your ox has a heart attack, you can't sue your neighbor for having tough ground and killing your ox, because you were with the ox.

:16 if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed

When someone has sex with their girlfriend, and they're not engaged, the guy either has to marry the girl, in addition to paying a dowry, or else pay an extra dowry.

Dowry - in this case, it was a sum of money that a man would pay to a girl's father as a type of insurance policy against divorce. If the man later divorced the woman, she would have the dowry to support herself with.

:21 Thou shalt neither vex a stranger

It's funny how tough some people are on others who have been through what they've been through.

We are to be a people of compassion.

:23 they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry;

The widow and the fatherless were the most vulnerable people in the world in those days.

They had no one to provide for them, no one to protect them.

God says that if you harm those who can't defend themselves, that He will pay attention to it!

:25 neither shalt thou lay upon him usury

If you loaned money to another Israeli, you were not to charge interest, but to give them an interest free loan.


:27 For that is his covering only

One way a loan was made was to secure some kind of collateral, in this case it would be a piece of clothing.

But for the poor person, when this is their only coat, you are to give it back to them at sundown, so they don't freeze to death! God sees!

:28 Thou shalt not revile the gods,

The word "gods" is elohim, and might be translated one of three ways:

    1. "gods", just as KJV does.
    2. "God", since the word "God" is commonly a translation of the plural elohim, just as here.
    3. "judges", since there are several places where the judges over Israel are called elohim. (Ps.82:6)

This seems the best understanding to me, since it fits best with the Hebrew parallelism of the next phrase, "nor curse the ruler of thy people".

:29 Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors

NIV - "Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats."

The point it that the "first fruits" belonged to God.

God's desire is that we give the first of everything to Him, as a way of recognizing where it came from.

God says not to hold back from giving to Him.

Exodus 23

:1 Thou shalt not raise a false report

NIV - "Do not spread false reports"

:2 Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil

Avoiding the "crowd mentality" - if everyone else is doing wrong, that's no excuse for you to do it.

Such a common excuse for things like premarital sex, living together, doing drugs, etc. - "everyone else is doing it".

Chuck Smith's mom: "Any old dead fish can float down stream, it takes a live one to swim against the current."

:3 countenance a poor man

Showing favoritism to a poor man, just because he's poor.

We think that favoritism against rich people is wrong, but favoritism to pervert justice in any case is wrong.

:4 thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray,

We're to do what's right, whether we like the person or not.

If their ox is lost, return it.

If their donkey has fallen under a load, help it out.

:7 the innocent and righteous slay thou not

Don't be putting innocent people to death.

:8 thou shalt take no gift

The idea is a "bribe".

When people give you things, if you're not careful, they can tend to want you to be obligated to them.

This is where the idea of people paying large sums to political parties, and then getting to sleep overnight at the White House comes in.

This is one reason why I don't like to know who gives how much in the church.

I've heard of too many pastors being extra special nice to those who give large amounts, instead of being impartial and treating everybody the same.

:11 the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still;

The sabbath year - letting the field rest.

Agriculture today - importance of rotating crops, not depleting the soil.

One of the reasons for Israel's captivity, to allow the land to rest for it's missed sabbath's. (Lev.26:34-35)

They were in the land for 490 years, missing 70 sabbaths, and so were in captivity for 70 years.

Reason for sabbath year - to feed the needy.

Israel's "welfare" system was a "work-fare" system. The poor were supposed to be able to glean in these fallow fields and harvest what was left. They had to work for their food.

:15 the feast of unleavened bread

A feast that was tied to the Passover.

Occurred Nisan (Abib) 14-21, roughly our March-April.

For us this year, Passover starts this Tuesday.

:16 the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of they labours

They were to celebrate at the beginning of the harvest.

Also called Feast of First Fruits, and also Pentecost, because it took place roughly 50 days (pente) after Passover. Also called the Feast of Weeks, taking place a week of weeks plus a day (7x7+1).

Sivan 6th, in our May-June

:16 the feast of ingathering

Also called the feast of Tabernacles or Booths.

Also used to celebrate the fact that the people lived in tents (tabernacles) in the wilderness.

Took place 15-22 of Tishri, our September-October.

:17 Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord GOD

These were three special feasts where all Jewish males were to come and worship God.

There was something built in here I believe.

God wanted the people to get to know the ideas behind these feasts.

And they contained a prophetic nature as well.

Paul wrote,

COL 2:16-17 Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day-- 17 things which are a {mere} shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

These feasts foreshadowed future events -

The Passover told of Jesus dying as the Lamb of God.

Pentecost was a picture of the first fruits of the gospel, the birth of the church.

Tabernacles foreshadows a day yet in the future, when we will live and reign with Christ for 1,000 years.

:18 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread;

The sacrifices were to be very specific, following God's instructions.

They were to teach us principles in worship.

Here, the idea is:

Don't be mixing worship of God with sin.

Leaven is always a picture of sin in Scripture.

:18 neither shall the fat of my sacrifice remain until the morning

Here, the idea is:

Don't be slow about your worship and offerings to God.

Don't keep putting off God.

Give Him the worship that's due Him.

I've heard people express that if they're in a bad mood, they won't come to church, because they don't want to be a hypocrite.

God would say to us, "Get over your attitude and give me worship!"

Don't wait until your heart is right, you may never get to church.

:19 seethe a kid in his mother's milk

Donít boil a baby goat in it's mother's milk.

Some say this is the reason behind the Jewish law against mixing diary and meat products.

You won't find cheeseburgers in a good Jewish delicatessen.

:20 I send an Angel before thee

I believe this is Jesus Himself.

:22 But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice,

From here, we see the blessings of obedience.

1. God will fight for them. (vs.22)

2. Physical blessings - bread, water, no sickness, healthy pregnancies.

3. God will drive the enemies out, with hornets (those small cars built by AMC???).

4. God will fix their boundaries. Egypt to Euphrates. Red Sea and Mediterranean (Philistine).

:29 I will not drive them out from before thee in one year;

God wasn't going to give them an overnight victory over their enemies, because they wouldn't be able to take care of all the land all at once.

:33 They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me:

Here we see what happens when we get too close to unbelievers, the idea of being "unequally yoked".

It's not the unbelievers who change.

It's the believers who backslide.


Household Principles - Lamentations of a mother from the book DeuteroMOMy

Laws Pertaining to Dessert

For we judge between the plate that is unclean and the plate that is clean, saying first, if the plate is clean, then you shall have dessert. But of the unclean plate, the laws are these: If you have eaten most of your meat, and two bites of your peas with each bite consisting of not less than three peas each, or in total six peas, eaten where I can see, and you have also eaten enough of your potatoes to fill two forks, both forkfuls eaten where I can see, then you shall have dessert. But if you eat a lesser number of peas, and yet you eat the potatoes, still you shall not have dessert; and if you eat the peas, yet leave the potatoes uneaten, you shall not have dessert, no, not even a small portion thereof. And if you try to deceive by moving the potatoes or peas around with a fork, that it may appear you have eaten what you have not, you will fall into iniquity. And I will know, and you shall have no dessert.

On Screaming

Do not scream; for it is as if you scream all the time. If you are given a plate on which two foods you do not wish to touch each other are touching each other, your voice rises up even to the ceiling, while you point to the offense with the finger of your right hand; but I say to you, scream not, only remonstrate gently with the server, that the server may correct the fault. Likewise if you receive a portion of fish from which every piece of herbal seasoning has not been scraped off, and the herbal seasoning is loathsome to you and steeped in vileness, again I say, refrain from screaming. Though the vileness overwhelm you, and cause you a faint unto death, make not that sound from within your throat, neither cover your face, nor press your fingers to you nose. For even not I have made the fish as it should be; behold, I eat it myself, yet do not die.

Concerning Face and Hands

Cast your countenance upward to the light, and lift your eyes to the hills, that I may more easily wash you off. For the stains are upon you; even to the very back of your head, there is rice thereon. And in the breast pocket of your garment, and upon the tie of your shoe, rice and other fragments are distributed in a manner wonderful to see. Only hold yourself still; hold still, I say. Give each finger in its turn for my examination thereof, and also each thumb. Lo, how iniquitous they appear. What I do is as it must be; and you shall not go hence until I have done.

Various Other Laws, Statutes, and Ordinances

Bite not, lest you be cast into quiet time. Neither drink of your own bath water, nor of the bath water of any kind; nor rub your feet on bread, even if it be in the package; nor rub yourself against cars, not against any building; nor eat sand. Leave the cat alone, for what has the cat done, that you should so afflict it with tape? And hum not the humming in your nose as I read, nor stand between the light and the book. Indeed, you will drive me to madness. Nor forget what I said about the tape.

Complaints and Lamentations

O my children, you are disobedient. For when I tell you what you must do, you argue and dispute hotly even to the littlest detail; and when I do not accede, you cry out, and hit and kick. Yes, and even sometime do you spit, and shout "stupid-head" and other blasphemies, and hit and kick the wall and the molding thereof when you are sent to the corner. And though the law teaches that no one shall be sent to the corner for more minutes than he has years of age, yet I would leave you there all day, so mighty am I in anger. But upon being sent to the corner you ask straight-away, "Can I come out?" and I reply, "No, you may not come out." And again you ask, and again I give the same reply. But when you ask again a third time, then you may come out. Hear me, O my children, for the bills they kill me. I pay and pay again, even to the twelfth time in a year, and yet again they mount higher than before. For our health, that we may be covered, I give six hundred and twenty talents twelve times in a year; but even this covers not the fifteen hundred deductible for each member of the family within a calendar year. And yet for ordinary visits we still are not covered, nor for many medicines, nor for the teeth within our mouths. Guess not at what rage is in my mind, for surely you cannot know. For I will come to you at the first of the month and at the fifteenth of the month with the bills and a great whining and moan. And when the month of taxes comes, I will decry the wrong and unfairness of it, and mourn with wine and ashtrays, and rend my receipts. And you shall remember that I am that I am: before, after, and until you are twenty-one. Hear me then, and avoid me in my wrath, O children of me.