Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part II: God's Sustainment Of Israel In The Wilderness Amid Humanly Helpless Trials
K. God's Elaboration And Application Of The Ten Commandments
4. God's Elaborating On His Commands Regarding Humanly Debatable Injury Cases
(Exodus 21:18-27)
  1. Introduction
    1. Though God commanded capital punishment in cases that required the preservation of home structure (last lesson), due to cultural practices like slavery and the taking vengeance by killing for injuries suffered , questions on humanly debatable injury cases needed God's overriding regulation.
    2. Accordingly, Exodus 21:18-27 described God's comments on humanly debatable injury cases as follows:
  2. God's Elaborating On His Commands Regarding Humanly Debatable Injury Cases, Ex. 21:18-27.
    1. After giving Moses the Ten Commandments, God enlarged and applied them in Israel's life so that there would be no possible misunderstanding as to what He meant by them, and this elaboration is known as the "Book of the Covenant" in Exodus 20:22-24:11, Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, p. 140.
    2. The fourth part of that "Book of the Covenant", Exodus 21:18-27, applies the sixth command prohibiting murder to show the boundaries of punishments in injury cases that were humanly debatable due to culture:
      1. In Moses' era, if a man injured another, his victim could kill him. God curbed such revenge as it failed to respect the value of God's image in all those involved, Ryrie St. Bib., KJV, 1978, ftn. to Lev. 24:20.
      2. Thus, when one man non-fatally injured another as they struggled against each other, the assaulter was not to be executed, but was responsible to pay for the loss of work suffered by the injured party and for the injured party's wound(s) so the victim might be healed, Exodus 21:18-19, Ibid., B.K.C.,O.T.
      3. Now, injuries suffered by a slave at the hand of his owner that resulted in the slave's death required the master to be punished, Ex. 21:20. The death penalty was apparently not imposed as the master had the right to enforce order with his slave, but a slave is a human and is thus to be treated humanely.
      4. If the master beat his slave so that he was unable to work for several days, the master was not to be punished, for the loss of his slave's service cost the master and was punishment enough, Exodus 21:21.
      5. Now, injuries to a vulnerable, unborn human being required the application of strict rules (as follows):
        1. To explain this verse, we note (1) the obscure KJV verb rendered "depart" is from the Hebrew verb, yalad that refers to a live birth, Kittel, Bib. Hebr ., p. 111; B. D. B., Heb. & Eng. Lex. of the O. T., p. 408-409; Ibid, Ryrie, ftn. to Ex. 21:22. (2) If the author meant a miscarriage of a stillborn, the verb would be naphal, "fall, miscarry", Ibid., B. D. B., p. 658. (3) Thus, Exodus 21:22 meant that if a live birth resulted from a pregnant woman's being struck while men struggled, and no "mischief" (KJV), "harm" (ESV) or "serious injury" (NIV) [ason, Ibid., Kittel; Ibid., B. D. B., p. 62] followed to the mother OR THUS ALSO to the LIVE, BORN FETUS, the assaulter was to pay the fine set by the husband and ratified by the court, Ex. 21:22; Ibid., B.K.C.,O.T., p. 141.
        2. However THEN, if either the mother or the fetus suffered harm, the assaulter was to pay up to his "life for life" equal to the injury suffered, Ex. 21:23-25. Thus, a fetus at any point in development is a human being that requires special protection, meaning abortion-on-demand is murder, and God wants all people to be responsible to avoid getting into physical conflict around pregnant women!
        3. [I hold that clinical abortion, i.e., the aborting of a fetus to save a mother's life, is acceptable before God, for both mother and fetus are equally valuable persons in God's view, and this choice is one of practicality for the sake of living kin with no malice toward the fetus [as in the case of war] (cf. the case of the absence of malice in Exodus 21:13). However, I respect the conscience of those who oppose clinical abortion, for the taking of human life is a very serious matter, cf. Rom ans 14:1-15]
      6. If a master struck his slave so that he became disabled with the loss of any living part of his body (such as an eye or a tooth), the slave was given his liberty at the master's loss of property, Exodus 21:26-27.
Lesson: God placed an equal, lofty value on every human being made in His image, and that regardless of station or development level, so punishment for all men must respect this value God puts on all men.

Application: May we revere the value God places on every human being regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, development or station, and that whether we are a victim or an assaulter in all cases of injury .