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Exodus 21:28-32

Context
Laws about Animals

21:28 1 “If an ox 2  gores a man or a woman so that either dies, 3  then the ox must surely 4  be stoned and its flesh must not be eaten, but the owner of the ox will be acquitted. 21:29 But if the ox had the habit of goring, and its owner was warned, 5  and he did not take the necessary precautions, 6  and then it killed a man or a woman, the ox must be stoned and the man must be put to death. 21:30 If a ransom is set for him, 7  then he must pay the redemption for his life according to whatever amount was set for him. 21:31 If the ox 8  gores a son or a daughter, the owner 9  will be dealt with according to this rule. 10  21:32 If the ox gores a male servant or a female servant, the owner 11  must pay thirty shekels of silver, 12  and the ox must be stoned. 13 

1 sn The point that this section of the laws makes is that one must ensure the safety of others by controlling the circumstances.

2 tn Traditionally “ox,” but “bull” would also be suitable. The term may refer to one of any variety of large cattle.

3 tn Heb “and he dies”; KJV “that they die”; NAB, NASB “to death.”

4 tn The text uses סָקוֹל יִסָּקֵל (saqol yissaqel), a Qal infinitive absolute with a Niphal imperfect. The infinitive intensifies the imperfect, which here has an obligatory nuance or is a future of instruction.

5 tn The Hophal perfect has the idea of “attested, testified against.”

6 tn Heb “he was not keeping it” or perhaps guarding or watching it (referring to the ox).

7 sn The family of the victim would set the amount for the ransom of the man guilty of criminal neglect. This practice was common in the ancient world, rare in Israel. If the family allowed the substitute price, then the man would be able to redeem his life.

8 tn Heb “it”; the referent (the ox) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

9 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the owner) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

10 tn Heb “according to this judgment it shall be done to him.”

11 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the owner) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

12 sn A shekel was a unit for measure by means of a scale. Both the weight and the value of a shekel of silver are hard to determine. “Though there is no certainty, the shekel is said to weigh about 11,5 grams” (C. Houtman, Exodus, 3:181). Over four hundred years earlier, Joseph was sold into Egypt for 20 shekels. The free Israelite citizen was worth about 50 shekels (Lev 27:3f.).

13 sn See further B. S. Jackson, “The Goring Ox Again [Ex. 21,28-36],” JJP 18 (1974): 55-94.



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