21:6 then his master must bring him to the judges, 1 and he will bring him to the door or the doorposts, and his master will pierce his ear with an awl, and he shall serve him forever. 2
22:7 “If a man gives his neighbor money or articles 3 for safekeeping, 4 and it is stolen from the man’s house, if the thief is caught, 5 he must repay double. 22:8 If the thief is not caught, 6 then the owner of the house will be brought before the judges 7 to see 8 whether he has laid 9 his hand on his neighbor’s goods.
1 tn The word is הָאֱלֹהִים (ha’elohim). S. R. Driver (Exodus, 211) says the phrase means “to God,” namely the nearest sanctuary in order that the oath and the ritual might be made solemn, although he does say that it would be done by human judges. That the reference is to Yahweh God is the view also of F. C. Fensham, “New Light on Exodus 21:7 and 22:7 from the Laws of Eshnunna,” JBL 78 (1959): 160-61. Cf. also ASV, NAB, NASB, NCV, NRSV, NLT. Others have made a stronger case that it refers to judges who acted on behalf of God; see C. Gordon, “אלהים in its Reputed Meaning of Rulers, Judges,” JBL 54 (1935): 134-44; and A. E. Draffkorn, “Ilani/Elohim,” JBL 76 (1957): 216-24; cf. KJV, NIV.
2 tn Or “till his life’s end” (as in the idiom: “serve him for good”).
3 tn The word usually means “vessels” but can have the sense of household goods and articles. It could be anything from jewels and ornaments to weapons or pottery.
4 tn Heb “to keep.” Here “safekeeping,” that is, to keep something secure on behalf of a third party, is intended.
5 tn Heb “found.”
6 tn Heb “found.”
7 tn Here again the word used is “the gods,” meaning the judges who made the assessments and decisions. In addition to other works, see J. R. Vannoy, “The Use of the Word ha’elohim in Exodus 21:6 and 22:7,8,” The Law and the Prophets, 225-41.
8 tn The phrase “to see” has been supplied.
9 tn The line says “if he has not stretched out his hand.” This could be the oath formula, but the construction here would be unusual, or it could be taken as “whether” (see W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:438). U. Cassuto (Exodus, 286) does not think the wording can possibly fit an oath; nevertheless, an oath would be involved before God (as he takes it instead of “judges”) – if the man swore, his word would be accepted, but if he would not swear, he would be guilty.