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
5. God's Elaborating On His Commands In Cases Of Guilt By Neglect
(Exodus 21:28-36)
  1. Introduction
    1. One can sin by committing acts of sin, but sins of omission are just as sinful as are committed acts of sin.
    2. In applying His Ten Commandments in Exodus 21:28-36, God elaborated on what to do about damages to people and property that occur due to sins of omission or neglect, and we view that application as follows:
  2. God's Elaborating On His Commands In Cases Of Guilt By Neglect, Exodus 21:28-36.
    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 fifth part of that "Book of the Covenant", Exodus 21:28-36, applies the sixth commandment against murder and the eighth commandment against theft if they were violated by sins of neglect (as follows):
      1. God directed that if an ox gored a man or a woman so that he or she died, the ox was to be stoned to death and its flesh not eaten, Exodus 21:28. This rule revealed God held the ox's owner responsible to control his ox from harming others so that failure to do so could not profit the owner in any way!
      2. Additionally, if witnesses [correctly] testified that the ox had previously gored others, indicating it had a known disposition to do so that made owner all the more responsible to restrain his ox, the owner and ox were both to be executed, Exodus 21:29! This meant the owner was all the more liable to restrain his ox especially if he was aware of its bad disposition or suffer punishment as though he with his ox had actually performed the goring manslaughter action!
      3. Now, the victim's surviving family might have been highly dependent on the victim's capacity to work for their own survival; in such a case, they could fine the owner of the ox with a known bad disposition for damages at the amount they set, and the owner would have to pay it or be executed, Ex. 21:30-31!
      4. Were an ox to gore a male or a female slave, its owner was to pay the slave's owner thirty shekels of silver, the price of a slave at that time, Exodus 21:32; Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, 1978 ed., ftn .
      5. If a man were to dig a pit and irresponsibly leave it uncovered so that an ox or donkey were to fall into it and thus die, the man who dug the pit had to pay for the value of the animal that was lost to its original owner, and the dead animal would become the pit digger's possession, Exodus 21:33-34.
      6. If one man's ox were to gore and hurt another man's ox so that the latter died, the live ox was to be sold with the proceeds being evenly divided between the two owners, and the dead ox would be divided between them as well, Exodus 21:35. This ruling revealed that the owners of animals were responsible not only to control the bad behavior in their own animals, but to protect their animals that had good dispositions from being harmed by animals with bad dispositions!
      7. However, if it was known that the goring ox had previously gored other animals so that its owner was all the more responsible to inhibit his ox's troubling behavior, but if the ox had not thus been inhibited, the owner of the goring ox was to pay the owner of the dead animal the full price of that animal, and the dead animal would then belong to the man whose ox it had gored it, Exodus 21:36.
      8. [Of note is the equality God placed on male and female humans in this section: in Ex. 21:29, whether the slain party was a man or a woman, the owner of the habitually goring animal was to be executed! Note also how the punishment is the same for the goring of a son or a daughter in Ex. 21:30-31 and for the goring of a male or a female slave in Ex. 21:30, 32! This fits the teaching of Gen. 1:27 that male and female humans are both made in God's image, and are thus of equal value in God's estimation!]
Lesson: God required people to be RESPONSIBLE for the behavior and welfare of the animals they owned. NEGLECT here was a WRONG, and PUNISHMENT was set in accord with the DEGREE of RESPONSIBILITY that was expected in each case!

Application: May we ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY for the welfare of others to the degree we CAN and thus OUGHT to be responsible, for God holds RESPONSIBILITY ITSELF to be a DUTY before Him!