|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.
Verse 21. - If he continue a day or two - i.e., "If the slave does not die till a day or two afterwards." Compare the provision in ver. 19, with respect to persons who were not slaves. No special callousness to the sufferings of slaves is implied. He is his money. The slave had been purchased for a stun of money, or was at any rate money' s worth; and the master would suffer a pecuniary loss by his death.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two,.... And does not die immediately, or the same day, but lives twenty four hours, as the Jewish writers interpret it; so Abendana (x) explains the phrase, "a day or two";"a day which is as two days, and they are twenty four hours from time to time,''that is, from the time he was smitten to the time of his continuance; and so it is elsewhere explained (y) by a day we understand a day, which is like two days, that is, from time to time, the meaning of which is, from a certain time in one day to the same in another:
he shall not be punished; that is, with death:
for he is his money; is bought with his money, and is good as money, and therefore it is a loss sufficient to him to lose him; and it may be reasonably thought he did not smite his servant with an intention to kill him, since he himself is the loser by it.
(x) Not. in Miclol Yophi in loc. (y) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Zabim, c. 2. sect. 3.
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