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Exodus 22:16-31

Context
Moral and Ceremonial Laws

22:16 1 “If a man seduces a virgin 2  who is not engaged 3  and has sexual relations with her, he must surely endow 4  her to be his wife. 22:17 If her father refuses to give her to him, he must pay money for the bride price of virgins.

22:18 “You must not allow a sorceress to live. 5 

22:19 “Whoever has sexual relations 6  with a beast must surely be put to death.

22:20 “Whoever sacrifices to a god other than the Lord 7  alone must be utterly destroyed. 8 

22:21 “You must not wrong 9  a foreigner 10  nor oppress him, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.

22:22 “You must not afflict 11  any widow or orphan. 22:23 If you afflict them 12  in any way 13  and they cry to me, I will surely hear 14  their cry, 22:24 and my anger will burn and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children will be fatherless. 15 

22:25 “If you lend money to any of 16  my people who are needy among you, do not be like a moneylender 17  to him; do not charge 18  him interest. 19  22:26 If you do take 20  the garment of your neighbor in pledge, you must return it to him by the time the sun goes down, 21  22:27 for it is his only covering – it is his garment for his body. 22  What else can he sleep in? 23  And 24  when he cries out to me, I will hear, for I am gracious.

22:28 “You must not blaspheme 25  God 26  or curse the ruler of your people.

22:29 “Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats. 27  You must give me the firstborn of your sons. 22:30 You must also do this for your oxen and for your sheep; seven days they may remain with their mothers, but give them to me on the eighth day.

22:31 “You will be holy 28  people to me; you must not eat any meat torn by animals in the field. 29  You must throw it to the dogs.

1 sn The second half of the chapter records various laws of purity and justice. Any of them could be treated in an expository way, but in the present array they offer a survey of God’s righteous standards: Maintain the sanctity of marriage (16-17); maintain the purity of religious institutions (18-20), maintain the rights of human beings (21-28), maintain the rights of Yahweh (29-31).

2 tn This is the word בְּתוּלָה (bÿtulah); it describes a young woman who is not married or a young woman engaged to be married; in any case, she is presumed to be a virgin.

3 tn Or “pledged” for marriage.

4 tn The verb מָהַר (mahar) means “pay the marriage price,” and the related noun is the bride price. B. Jacob says this was a proposal gift and not a purchase price (Exodus, 700). This is the price paid to her parents, which allowed for provision should there be a divorce. The amount was usually agreed on by the two families, but the price was higher for a pure bride from a noble family. Here, the one who seduces her must pay it, regardless of whether he marries her or not.

5 sn There still were many who wished to follow pagan beliefs and consort with the dead (see Deut 18:10-11). The sorceress was someone who dealt with drugs or herbs for occult purposes.

6 tn Heb “lies with.”

7 tn Heb “not to Yahweh.”

8 tn The verb חָרַם (kharam) means “to be devoted” to God or “to be banned.” The idea is that it would be God’s to do with as he liked. What was put under the ban was for God alone, either for his service or for his judgment. But it was out of human control. Here the verb is saying that the person will be utterly destroyed.

9 tn Or “oppress.”

10 tn Or “alien,” both here and in 23:9. This individual is a resident foreigner; he lives in the land but, aside from provisions such as this, might easily be without legal rights.

11 tn The verb “afflict” is a Piel imperfect from עָנָה (’anah); it has a wide range of meanings: “afflict, oppress, humiliate, rape.” These victims are at the mercy of the judges, businessmen, or villains. The righteous king and the righteous people will not mistreat them (see Isa 1:17; Job 31:16, 17, 21).

12 tn The accusative here is the masculine singular pronoun, which leads S. R. Driver to conclude that this line is out of place, even though the masculine singular can be used in places like this (Exodus, 232). U. Cassuto says its use is to refer to certain classes (Exodus, 292).

13 tn Here again and with “cry” the infinitive absolute functions with a diminished emphasis (GKC 342-43 §113.o).

14 tn Here is the normal use of the infinitive absolute with the imperfect tense to emphasize the verb: “I will surely hear,” implying, “I will surely respond.”

15 sn The punishment will follow the form of talionic justice, an eye for an eye, in which the punishment matches the crime. God will use invading armies (“sword” is a metonymy of adjunct here) to destroy them, making their wives widows and their children orphans.

16 tn “any of” has been supplied.

17 sn The moneylender will be demanding and exacting. In Ps 109:11 and 2 Kgs 4:1 the word is rendered as “extortioner.”

18 tn Heb “set.”

19 sn In ancient times money was lent primarily for poverty and not for commercial ventures (H. Gamoran, “The Biblical Law against Loans on Interest,” JNES 30 [1971]: 127-34). The lending to the poor was essentially a charity, and so not to be an opportunity to make money from another person’s misfortune. The word נֶשֶׁךְ (neshekh) may be derived from a verb that means “to bite,” and so the idea of usury or interest was that of putting out one’s money with a bite in it (See S. Stein, “The Laws on Interest in the Old Testament,” JTS 4 [1953]: 161-70; and E. Neufeld, “The Prohibition against Loans at Interest in the Old Testament,” HUCA 26 [1955]: 355-412).

20 tn The construction again uses the infinitive absolute with the verb in the conditional clause to stress the condition.

21 tn The clause uses the preposition, the infinitive construct, and the noun that is the subjective genitive – “at the going in of the sun.”

22 tn Heb “his skin.”

23 tn Literally the text reads, “In what can he lie down?” The cloak would be used for a covering at night to use when sleeping. The garment, then, was the property that could not be taken and not given back – it was the last possession. The modern idiom of “the shirt off his back” gets at the point being made here.

24 tn Heb “and it will be.”

25 tn The two verbs in this verse are synonyms: קָלַל (qalal) means “to treat lightly, curse,” and אָרַר (’arar) means “to curse.”

26 tn The word אֱלֹהִים (’elohim) is “gods” or “God.” If taken as the simple plural, it could refer to the human judges, as it has in the section of laws; this would match the parallelism in the verse. If it was taken to refer to God, then the idea of cursing God would be more along the line of blasphemy. B. Jacob says that the word refers to functioning judges, and that would indirectly mean God, for they represented the religious authority, and the prince the civil authority (Exodus, 708).

27 tn The expressions are unusual. U. Cassuto renders them: “from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses” (Exodus, 294). He adds the Hittite parallel material to show that the people were to bring the offerings on time and not let them overlap, because the firstfruits had to be eaten first by the priest.

28 sn The use of this word here has to do with the laws of the sanctuary and not some advanced view of holiness. The ritual holiness at the sanctuary would prohibit eating anything torn to pieces.

29 tn Or “by wild animals.”



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