The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Exodus 21

Exo 21:1

Exo 21: "The laws in this ch relate to the fifth and sixth commandments; and though they differ from our times and customs, nor are they binding on us, yet they explain the moral law under which Israel now found herself, and the rules of natural justice. The servant, in the state of servitude, was an emblem of that state where man finds himself in bondage to sin. The law brings man face to face with his God, because by his sins he is robbing God of his glory. However, the Law is based on 'Not' teaching. That is, man learns under the Law largely what God is NOT. However, in God's grace through Jesus Christ, we have learned what God IS. So this, says Jesus, 'is life eternal that they might KNOW THEE the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent' -- John 17:3. Likewise, back in Exo 21, a servant in being made free, was an emblem of that liberty wherewith Christ, the Son of God, makes his people free from bondage, [and they] are now free indeed -- Rom 8:1; and made so freely, without money and without price, through the grace of God -- John 8:32" (CY).

Exo 21:4

AND ONLY THE MAN SHALL GO FREE: The wife, being Jewish, and the children would be freed in any case in less than 7 years. Typ Christ's love for us: He did not go out alone, but rather became a slave (Phi 2:8-11).

Exo 21:5

Anytime we marry, we give up freedoms. A loving man will not mind.

Christ is the servant of his master -- that is, Yahweh -- who, because he is without sin, might have "gone free" from the penalty of sin, which is death (Rom 6:23). But because he loves his Master -- and because he loves his "family" (you and me!) -- he willingly and lovingly submits to the Father's service for his whole life, including the anguished death upon the cross. And all so that you and I can belong to him, and he to us, forever.

Exo 21:6

JUDGES: Heb "elohim". "God" (NIV mg).

THE DOOR... PIERCE HIS EAR: Figuratively, his ear will be affixed, steadfast, to the door of his master (ie 2Sa 11:9) -- so as to hear with a sharp ear/conscience. Christ = door (Joh 10:9). Also, Christ = the slave whose ear has been pierced (Psa 40:6; Heb 10:7-9).

Exo 21:20

Exo 21:20,

ROD: Used in correction, discipline.

Exo 21:21

That is, it is thought not to be malicious. And so the owner is punished sufficiently by the loss.

Exo 21:22

GIVES BIRTH PREMATURELY: NIV mg has "has a miscarriage". "Gives birth" = Heb "go forth", as in birth (Gen 25:25,26; 38:28-30; Jer 1:5; 2Sa 7:12; Ecc 5:15...); thus favors "give birth prematurely" (BS 11:141).

BUT THERE IS NO SERIOUS INJURY: That is, "if no harm comes to either mother or child". The fetus, or unborn child, is treated as a human being under the Law. No "second class" status (cp generally Gen 25:22; Luk 1:44; Psa 139:13-16; Jer 1:5; etc.).

WHATEVER... THE COURT ALLOWS: The judges will moderate a too severe penalty asked by husband.

Exo 21:23

Vv 23-25: Sig proper monetary compensation for loss, not retribution by similar maiming. Compensation may be given, as judges see fit (vv 18,30). But no satisfaction may be accepted in case of willful murder (Num 35:31), thus implying it may be accepted in lesser cases.

Exo 21:33

No thought to hinder men seeking water, but only a safety precaution (LB 335).

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