Ordinances for the People

“Now these are the ordinances which you are to set before them:

“If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall leave as a free man without a payment to you. If he comes [a]alone, he shall leave [b]alone; if he is the husband of a wife, then his wife shall leave with him. 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 leave [c]alone. But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not leave as a free man,’ then his master shall bring him to [d]God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an [e]awl; and he shall serve him permanently.

“Now if a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to [f]go free as the male slaves [g]do. If she is [h]displeasing in the eyes of her master [i]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 [j]unfairness to her. And 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 [k]food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. 11 But if he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go [l]free for nothing, without payment of money.

Personal Injuries

12 “He who strikes someone so that he dies shall certainly be put to death. 13 Yet [m]if he did not lie in wait for him, but God caused him to fall into his hand, then I will appoint you a place to which he may flee. 14 If, however, someone is enraged against his neighbor, so as to kill him in a cunning way, you are to take him even from My altar, to be put to death.

15 “And one who strikes his father or his mother shall certainly be put to death.

16 “Now one who [n]kidnaps someone, whether he sells him or he is found in his [o]possession, shall certainly be put to death.

17 “And one who curses his father or his mother shall certainly be put to death.

18 “Now if people have a quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or with a fist, and he does not die but [p]is confined to 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 [q]loss of time, and [r]shall pay for his care until he is completely healed.

20 “And if someone strikes his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies [s]at his hand, he shall [t]be punished. 21 If, however, the slave [u]survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for the slave is his [v]property.

22 “Now if people struggle with each other and strike a pregnant woman so that [w]she gives birth prematurely, but there is no injury, the guilty person shall certainly be fined as the woman’s husband [x]may demand of him, and he shall pay [y]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, [z]bruise for bruise.

26 “And if someone strikes the eye of his male or female slave and destroys it, he shall let [aa]the slave go free on account of the eye. 27 And if he [ab]knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let [ac]the slave go free on account of the tooth.

28 “Now if an ox gores a man or a woman [ad]to death, the ox shall certainly 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 [ae]demanded of him, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is [af]demanded of him. 31 Whether it gores a son or [ag]a daughter, it shall be done to him according to [ah]the same rule. 32 If the ox gores a male or female slave, [ai]the owner shall give his or her master [aj]thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

Property Rights

33 “Now if someone opens a pit, or [ak]digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, 34 the owner of the pit shall make restitution; he shall [al]give money to its owner, and the dead animal shall become his.

35 “And if someone’s ox injures another’s ox so that it dies, then they shall sell the live ox and divide its proceeds equally; and they shall also 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 must make restitution of ox for ox, and the dead animal shall become his.


  1. Exodus 21:3 Lit by himself
  2. Exodus 21:3 Lit by himself
  3. Exodus 21:4 Lit by himself
  4. Exodus 21:6 Or the judges (who acted in God’s name)
  5. Exodus 21:6 I.e., a pointed tool
  6. Exodus 21:7 Lit go out
  7. Exodus 21:7 Lit go out
  8. Exodus 21:8 Lit bad
  9. Exodus 21:8 Another reading is so that he did not designate her
  10. Exodus 21:8 Lit dealing treacherously
  11. Exodus 21:10 Lit flesh
  12. Exodus 21:11 Lit out
  13. Exodus 21:13 Lit he who
  14. Exodus 21:16 Lit steals
  15. Exodus 21:16 Lit hand
  16. Exodus 21:18 Lit lies in
  17. Exodus 21:19 Lit his sitting
  18. Exodus 21:19 Lit healing, he shall cause to be healed
  19. Exodus 21:20 Lit under
  20. Exodus 21:20 Lit suffer vengeance
  21. Exodus 21:21 Lit stands
  22. Exodus 21:21 Lit money
  23. Exodus 21:22 Or an untimely birth occurs; lit her children come out
  24. Exodus 21:22 Lit lays on him
  25. Exodus 21:22 Lit by arbitration
  26. Exodus 21:25 Lit welt
  27. Exodus 21:26 Lit him go...his eye
  28. Exodus 21:27 Lit causes to fall
  29. Exodus 21:27 Lit him go...his tooth
  30. Exodus 21:28 Lit so that he dies
  31. Exodus 21:30 Lit laid on him
  32. Exodus 21:30 Lit laid on him
  33. Exodus 21:31 Lit gores a daughter
  34. Exodus 21:31 Lit this judgment
  35. Exodus 21:32 Lit he
  36. Exodus 21:32 About 15 oz. or 425 gm
  37. Exodus 21:33 Lit if a man digs
  38. Exodus 21:34 Lit give back