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
22:8 If the thief is not caught, 3 then the owner of the house will be brought before the judges 4 to see 5 whether he has laid 6 his hand on his neighbor’s goods. 22:9 In all cases of illegal possessions, 7 whether for an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any kind of lost item, about which someone says ‘This belongs to me,’ 8 the matter of the two of them will come before the judges, 9 and the one whom 10 the judges declare guilty 11 must repay double to his neighbor.
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 Heb “found.”
4 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.
5 tn The phrase “to see” has been supplied.
6 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.
7 tn Heb “concerning every kind [thing] of trespass.”
8 tn The text simply has “this is it” (הוּא זֶה, hu’ zeh).
9 tn Again, or “God.”
10 tn This kind of clause Gesenius calls an independent relative clause – it does not depend on a governing substantive but itself expresses a substantival idea (GKC 445-46 §138.e).
11 tn The verb means “to be guilty” in Qal; in Hiphil it would have a declarative sense, because a causative sense would not possibly fit.