Exodus 21:20
Parallel Verses
New International Version
"Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result,

New Living Translation
"If a man beats his male or female slave with a club and the slave dies as a result, the owner must be punished.

English Standard Version
“When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged.

New American Standard Bible
"If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished.

King James Bible
And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod, and the slave dies under his abuse, the owner must be punished.

International Standard Version
"If a man strikes his male or female servant with a stick and he or she dies as a direct result, the master must be punished.

NET Bible
"If a man strikes his male servant or his female servant with a staff so that he or she dies as a result of the blow, he will surely be punished.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
"Whenever an owner hits his male or female slave with a stick so that the slave dies from the beating, the owner must be punished.

Jubilee Bible 2000
And if a man smites his slave or his maid with a rod and he dies under his hand, he shall be surely punished.

King James 2000 Bible
And if a man strikes his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he dies under his hand; he shall be surely punished.

American King James Version
And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.

American Standard Version
And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall surely be punished.

Douay-Rheims Bible
He that striketh his bondman or bondwoman with a rod, and they die under his hands, shall be guilty of the crime.

Darby Bible Translation
And if a man strike his bondman or his handmaid with a staff, and he die under his hand, he shall certainly be avenged.

English Revised Version
And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall surely be punished.

Webster's Bible Translation
And if a man shall smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he shall die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.

World English Bible
"If a man strikes his servant or his maid with a rod, and he dies under his hand, he shall surely be punished.

Young's Literal Translation
'And when a man smiteth his man-servant or his handmaid, with a rod, and he hath died under his hand -- he is certainly avenged;
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

21:12-21 God, who by his providence gives and maintains life, by his law protects it. A wilful murderer shall be taken even from God's altar. But God provided cities of refuge to protect those whose unhappiness it was, and not their fault, to cause the death of another; for such as by accident, when a man is doing a lawful act, without intent of hurt, happens to kill another. Let children hear the sentence of God's word upon the ungrateful and disobedient; and remember that God will certainly requite it, if they have ever cursed their parents, even in their hearts, or have lifted up their hands against them, except they repent, and flee for refuge to the Saviour. And let parents hence learn to be very careful in training up their children, setting them a good example, especially in the government of their passions, and in praying for them; taking heed not to provoke them to wrath. Through poverty the Israelites sometimes sold themselves or their children; magistrates sold some persons for their crimes, and creditors were in some cases allowed to sell their debtors who could not pay. But man-stealing, the object of which is to force another into slavery, is ranked in the New Testament with the greatest crimes. Care is here taken, that satisfaction be made for hurt done to a person, though death do not follow. The gospel teaches masters to forbear, and to moderate threatenings, Eph 6:9, considering with Job, What shall I do, when God riseth up? Job 31:13,14.

Pulpit Commentary

Verses 20, 21. - Homicide of slaves. In most ancient states the slave was the absolute property of his master, and might be ill-used to any extent, even killed, without the law in any way interfering. It is said that the state of things was different in Egypt (Kalisch); but we have scarcely sufficient evidence on the point to be certain that the slave enjoyed there any real and efficient protection. At Athens, beyond a doubt, the law protected the life of the slave; and a very moderate amount of ill-treatment entitled a slave to bring an action. At Rome, on the contrary, "the master could treat the slave as he pleased, could sell him, punish him, and put him to death" (Dict. of Greek & Roman Antiq. p. 1036). And this was the ordinary state of the law, particularly in Oriental countries. The Mosaic legislation must be regarded as having greatly ameliorated the condition of the native slave population. Hebrew bondmen it placed nearly upon a par with hired servants (Leviticus 25:40); foreign slaves, whether prisoners taken in war, or persons bought in the market, it protected to a very great extent. By the law given in verses 26, 27, it largely controlled the brutality of masters, who had to emancipate their slaves if they did them any serious injury. By the law laid down in verse 20, it gave their lives the same protection, or nearly the same, as the lives of freemen. "Smiting "was allowed as a discipline, without which slavery cannot exist; but such smiting as resulted in death was, as a general rule, punishable like any other homicide. The only exception was, if the slave did not die for some days (ver. 21). In that case the master was considered not to have intended the slave' s death, and to be sufficiently punished by the loss of his property. Verse 20. - If a man smite his servant, or his maid. "Maids" would commonly be chastised by their mistress, or by an upper servant acting under the mistress' s authority. "A man" here means "any one." With a rod. The rods wherewith Egyptian slaves were chastised appear upon the monuments. They were long canes, like those used by our schoolmasters. Under his hand. Criminals in the East are said often to die under the bastinado; and even in our own country there have been cases of soldiers dying under the lash. A special delicacy of the nervous system will make a punishment of the kind fatal to some, which would have been easily borne by others.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

And if a man smite his servant or his maid with a rod,.... A Canaanitish servant or maid, as the Targum of Jonathan, and so Jarchi; and that only with a rod for the correction of them, and not with a sword or any such destroying weapon, which would seem as though he intended to kill, yet nevertheless:

and he die under his hand; immediately, while he is smiting or beating him or her, on the same day, as the above Targum interprets it:

he shall be surely punished; or condemned to the punishment of being slain with the sword, as the said Targum and Jarchi explain it: this law was made to deter masters from using severity and cruelty towards their servants.



Exodus 21:20 Additional Commentaries
Context
Personal Injury Laws
19if he gets up and walks around outside on his staff, then he who struck him shall go unpunished; he shall only pay for his loss of time, and shall take care of him until he is completely healed. 20"If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished. 21"If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.…
Cross References
Exodus 21:19
the one who struck the blow will not be held liable if the other can get up and walk around outside with a staff; however, the guilty party must pay the injured person for any loss of time and see that the victim is completely healed.

Exodus 21:21
but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.
Treasury of Scripture

And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.

smite

Exodus 21:26,27 And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, …

Deuteronomy 19:21 And your eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for …

Proverbs 29:19 A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand …

Isaiah 58:3,4 Why have we fasted, say they, and you see not? why have we afflicted …

he shall

Genesis 9:6 Whoever sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in …

Numbers 35:30-33 Whoever kills any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the …

punished. Heb. avenged

Genesis 4:15,24 And the LORD said to him, Therefore whoever slays Cain, vengeance …

Numbers 35:19 The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meets …

Romans 13:4 For he is the minister of God to you for good. But if you do that …

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