|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
21:1-11 The laws in this chapter relate to the fifth and sixth commandments; and though they differ from our times and customs, nor are they binding on us, yet they explain the moral law, and the rules of natural justice. The servant, in the state of servitude, was an emblem of that state of bondage to sin, Satan, and the law, which man is brought into by robbing God of his glory, by the transgression of his precepts. Likewise in being made free, he was an emblem of that liberty wherewith Christ, the Son of God, makes free from bondage his people, who are free indeed; and made so freely, without money and without price, of free grace.
Verse 1. - These are the judgments. The term "judgment" applies most properly to the decisions of courts and the laws founded upon them. No doubt the laws contained in the "Book of the Covenant" were to a large extent old laws, which had been often acted on; but we should do wrong to suppose that there was nothing new in the legislation. The Hebrew mishphat is used with some vagueness. Vers 2-11. -
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Now these are the judgments,.... The judicial laws respecting the civil state of the people of Israel, so called because they are founded on justice and equity, and are according to the judgment of God, whose judgment is according to truth; and because they are such by which the commonwealth of Israel was to be judged or governed, and were to be the rule of their conduct to one another, and a rule of judgment to their judges in the execution of judgment and justice among them:
which thou shall set before them; besides the ten commands before delivered. They were spoken by God himself in the hearing of the people; these were delivered to Moses after he went up to the mount again, at the request of the people, to be their mediator, to be by him set before them as the rule of their behaviour, and to enjoin them the observance of them; in order to which he was not only to rehearse them, but to write them out, and set them in a plain and easy light before them: and though they did not hear these with their own ears from God himself, as the ten commands; yet, as they had the utmost reason to believe they came from him, and it was at their own request that he, and not God, might speak unto them what was further to be said, with a promise they would obey it, as if they had immediately heard it from him; it became them to receive these laws as of God, and yield a cheerful obedience to them; nor do we find they ever questioned the authority of them; and as their government was a Theocracy, and God was more immediately their King than he was of any other people, it was but right, and what might be expected, that they should have their civil laws from him, and which was their privilege, and gave them the preference to all other nations, Deuteronomy 4:5.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ex 21:1-6. Laws for Menservants.
1. judgments—rules for regulating the procedure of judges and magistrates in the decision of cases and the trial of criminals. The government of the Israelites being a theocracy, those public authorities were the servants of the Divine Sovereign, and subject to His direction. Most of these laws here noticed were primitive usages, founded on principles of natural equity, and incorporated, with modifications and improvements, in the Mosaic code.
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