21 “Here are the laws you must explain to the people of Israel.

Set Your Hebrew Servants Free

2“Suppose you buy a Hebrew servant. He must serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, you must set him free. He does not have to pay anything.

3“If he does not have a wife when he comes, he must go free alone. But if he has a wife when he comes, she must go with him. 4Suppose his master gives him a wife. And suppose she has sons or daughters by him. Then only the man will go free. The woman and her children will belong to her master.

5“But suppose the servant says, ‘I love my master and my wife and children. I don’t want to go free.’ 6Then his master must take him to the judges. He must be taken to the door or doorpost of his master’s house. His master must poke a hole through his ear lobe into the doorpost. Then he will become his servant for life.

7“Suppose a man sells his daughter as a servant. Then she can’t go free as male servants do.

8“But what if the master who has chosen her does not like her? Then he must let the man buy her back. He has no right to sell her to strangers. He has broken his promise to her.

9“What if he chooses her to get married to his son? Then he must grant her the rights of a daughter.

10“What if he marries another woman? He must still give the first one her food and clothes and make love to her. 11If he does not provide her with those three things, she can go free. She does not have to pay anything.

Laws About Harming Others

12“You can be sure that if anyone hits and kills someone else, he will be put to death. 13Suppose he did not do it on purpose. Suppose I let it happen. Then he can escape to a place I will choose. 14But suppose he kills someone on purpose. Then take him away from my altar and put him to death.

15If anyone attacks his father or mother, he will be put to death.

16“If anyone kidnaps and sells another person, he will be put to death. If he still has the person with him when he is caught, he will be put to death.

17“If anyone calls down a curse on his father or mother, he will be put to death.

18“Suppose two men get into a fight and argue with each other. One hits the other with a stone or his fist. He does not die but has to stay in bed. 19And later he gets up and walks around outside with his walking stick. Then the man who hit him will not be held accountable. But he must pay the one who was hurt for the time he spent in bed. He must be sure that the person is completely healed.

20“Suppose a man beats his male or female slave to death with a club. Then he must be punished. 21But he will not be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two. After all, the slave is his property.

22“Suppose some men are fighting and one of them hits a pregnant woman. And suppose she has her baby early but is not badly hurt. Then the man who hurt her must pay a fine. He must pay what the woman’s husband asks for and the court allows.

23“But if someone is badly hurt, a life must be taken for a life. 24An eye must be put out for an eye. A tooth must be knocked out for a tooth. A hand must be cut off for a hand and a foot for a foot. 25A burn must be given for a burn, a wound for a wound, and a bruise for a bruise.

26“Suppose a man hits his male or female servant in the eye and destroys it. Then he must let the servant go free to pay for the eye.

27“Suppose he knocks out the tooth of a male or female servant. Then he must let the servant go free to pay for the tooth.

28“Suppose a bull kills a man or woman with its horns. Then you must kill the bull by throwing stones at it. Its meat must not be eaten. The owner of the bull will not be held accountable.

29“But suppose the bull has had the habit of attacking people. And suppose the owner has been warned but has not kept it fenced in. Then if it kills a man or woman, you must kill it with stones. The owner must also be put to death.

30“But suppose payment is required of him instead. Then he can save his life by paying what is required.

31“The same law applies if the bull wounds a son or daughter with its horns.

32“Suppose the bull wounds a male or female slave. Then the owner must pay the slave’s master 12 ounces of silver. You must kill the bull with stones.

33“Suppose a man uncovers a pit or digs one and does not cover it. And suppose an ox or donkey falls into it. 34Then the owner of the pit must pay the animal’s owner for the loss. The dead animal will belong to the owner of the pit.

35“Suppose a man’s bull wounds a neighbor’s bull and it dies. Then they must sell the live one. And they must share the money and the dead animal equally.

36“But suppose people knew that the bull had the habit of attacking. And suppose the owner did not keep it fenced in. Then he must give another animal to pay for the dead animal. The dead animal will belong to him.


About New International Reader’s Version (1998)

The New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) was developed to help early readers understand the Bible. Begun in 1992, the NIrV is a simplification of the New International Version (NIV). The NIrV uses shorter words and sentences so that those with a typical fourth grade reading level can comprehend what they are reading. The chapters have been separated into shorter sections and most have titles that clearly indicate what the section is all about. The NIrV will be a valuable translation to those for whom English is a second language. The NIrV still relies on the best and oldest copies of the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts for its translation, guaranteeing that those who read it are getting the actual Word of God.


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