Exodus 21:11
And if he do not these three to her, then shall she go out free without money.
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(11) These threei.e., one of these three things: (1) Espouse her himself; (2) marry her to his son; or (3) transfer her, on the terms on which he received her, to another Hebrew.

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.If he do not these three unto her - The words express a choice of one of three things. The man was to give the woman, whom he had purchased from her father, her freedom, unless

(i) he caused her to be redeemed by a Hebrew master Exodus 21:8; or,

(ii) gave her to his son, and treated her as a daughter Exodus 21:9; or,

(iii) in the event of his taking another wife Exodus 21:10, unless he allowed her to retain her place and privileges.

These rules Exodus 21:7-11 are to be regarded as mitigations of the then existing usages of concubinage.

Ex 21:7-36. Laws for Maidservants.

7-11. if a man sell his daughter—Hebrew girls might be redeemed for a reasonable sum. But in the event of her parents or friends being unable to pay the redemption money, her owner was not at liberty to sell her elsewhere. Should she have been betrothed to him or his son, and either change their minds, a maintenance must be provided for her suitable to her condition as his intended wife, or her freedom instantly granted.

And with gifts also by virtue of the law, Deu 15:14. The sum is this, The master was either,

1. Willing to part with her; and then he was to let her be redeemed by herself, or any of her friends, but not by a heathen, Exodus 21:8. Or,

2. Willing to keep her; and then, as he had betrothed her, he was to perform all the duties of a husband to her, although he had another wife besides her, Exodus 21:10.

3. If he would keep her, and yet deny those duties to her, then as his fault was aggravated, so was his punishment; for now he cannot sell her, but must let her go freely, as in this verse. And if he do not these three unto her,.... Not the three things last mentioned; though this sense, Aben Ezra says, many of their interpreters give, which is rejected by him, so do some Christian expositors; but these three things are, espousing her to himself, or to his son, or redeeming her by the hand of her father; that is, letting her be redeemed by him, as the Targum of Jonathan; and so Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and Ben Melech: the meaning is, if one or other of these things are not done:

then shall she go out free without money; be dismissed from her servitude, and not obliged to pay anything for her freedom; the Targum of Jonathan adds, he shall give her a bill of divorce; that is, the son to whom she had been betrothed, and another wife taken by him, and she denied the above things; which favours the first sense.

And if he do not these {k} three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.

(k) Neither marry her himself, nor give another money to buy her, nor bestow her on his son.

11. these three] The three rights mentioned in v. 10.

The view expressed above is the one ordinarily taken of vv. 7–11, vv. 8–10 stating three special cases, falling under the general case of v. 7, If a man sell his daughter, &c. Budde, however (ZATW. 1891, p. 102 f.), argues forcibly, and Bä. agrees, that the three special cases fall, not under the general case of v. 7, but under the general case of v. 8a, If she please not her master,—the first two, as upon the ordinary view, relating to the time before the woman is taken actually as a concubine: the three cases being (1) he may let her be redeemed, v. 8b; (2) how he is to deal with her, if he passes her on to his son, v. 9; (3) how he is to deal with her, if, after having made her his concubine, he takes another concubine as well. If the girl bought in this way was as a matter of course bought to be her master’s concubine, the words in v. 8, ‘who hath designated her for himself,’ are otiose; on the other hand, the condition that the two alternatives mentioned in vv. 8, 9 are to be adopted only if she is still a virgin, ought, Budde thinks, to be clearly expressed: accordingly, taking ‘not’ from the margin, and transposing two letters in the following word, he reads for the words quoted, who (or in case he) hath not known her (Genesis 4:1): he further argues that this view does better justice to the wording of v. 8 (which is not, as it should be on the ordinary view, If he hath designated her for himself, and she please him not), and to the tense of ‘designate’ in v. 9 (which is the impf., as in vv. 10, 11, not the perf., as in v. 8a), and also that it explains better v. 9b (why, if he originally intended her as a concubine for his son, should he treat her as a daughter, and so place her in a better position than if he intended he for himself? On the other hand, this is intelligible, if he did not fulfil his original engagement to her, and passed her on to his son). For another solution of the difficulties of the passage, resting upon a further emendation, see W. R. Smith, ZATW. 1892, p. 162 f., or Ryssel in Di.2 p. 253.Verse 11. - If he do not these three unto her. Not the "three" points of the latter part of ver. 10; but one of the three courses laid down in vers. 8, 9, and 10. She shall go out free - i.e., she shall not be retained as a drudge, a mere maidservant, but shall return to her father at once, a free woman, capable of contracting another marriage; and without money - i.e., without the father being called upon to refund any portion of the stun for which he had sold her. There were three different circumstances possible, under which emancipation might take place. The servant might have been unmarried and continued so (בּגפּו: with his body, i.e., alone, single): in that case, of course, there was no one else to set at liberty. Or he might have brought a wife with him; and in that case his wife was to be set at liberty as well. Or his master might have given him a wife in his bondage, and she might have borne him children: in that case the wife and children were to continue the property of the master. This may appear oppressive, but it was an equitable consequence of the possession of property in slaves at all. At the same time, in order to modify the harshness of such a separation of husband and wife, the option was given to the servant to remain in his master's service, provided he was willing to renounce his liberty for ever (Exodus 21:5, Exodus 21:6). This would very likely be the case as a general rule; for there were various legal arrangements, which are mentioned in other places, by which the lot of Hebrew slaves was greatly softened and placed almost on an equality with that of hired labourers (cf. Exodus 23:12; Leviticus 25:6, Leviticus 25:39, Leviticus 25:43, Leviticus 25:53; Deuteronomy 12:18; Deuteronomy 16:11). In this case the master was to take his servant האלהים אל, lit., to God, i.e., according to the correct rendering of the lxx, πρὸς τὸ κριτήριον, to the place where judgment was given in the name of God (Deuteronomy 1:17; cf. Exodus 22:7-8, and Deuteronomy 19:17), in order that he might make a declaration there that he gave up his liberty. His ear was then to be bored with an awl against the door or lintel of the house, and by this sign, which was customary in many of the nations of antiquity, to be fastened as it were to the house for ever. That this was the meaning of the piercing of the ear against the door of the house, is evident from the unusual expression in Deuteronomy 15:17, "and put (the awl) into his ear and into the door, that he may be thy servant for ever," where the ear and the door are co-ordinates. "For ever," i.e., as long as he lives. Josephus and the Rabbins would restrict the service to the time ending with the year of jubilee, but without sufficient reason, and contrary to the usage of the language, as לעלם is used in Leviticus 25:46 to denote service which did not terminate with the year of jubilee. (See the remarks on Leviticus 25:10; also my Archologie.)
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