Exodus 21:18
And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keeps his bed:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18, 19) Severe assault, endangering life, but not actually taking it, is placed under the same head with homicide, as approaching to it, but is not to be punished in the same way. If death ensues in such a case, the crime is, of course, murder or manslaughter, according to the attendant circumstances; but if death does not ensue, it is aggravated assault only. In such cases punishment could not be inflicted by retaliation—the usual penalty under the Mosaic Law (Exodus 21:24-25)—without a risk of killing the man, which would have been an excessive punishment. The law therefore imposed a fine, which was to be fixed at such an amount as would at once compensate the sufferer for the loss of his time (Exodus 21:19), and defray the cost of his cure.

(18) With a stone, or with his fist.—Comp. The difference made under the English law between wounding with a sharp or a blunt instrument.

Exodus 21:18-19. With a stone — Or any other instrument fit for such a mischievous purpose. The loss of his time — Of the profit which he commonly made of his time in the way of his calling. Shall cause him to be healed — Shall pay the charges of his cure.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.The following offences were to be punished with death:

Striking a parent, compare Deuteronomy 27:16.

Cursing a parent, compare the marginal references.

Kidnapping, whether with a view to retain the person stolen, or to sell him, compare the marginal references.

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.

With a stone, or any other instrument fit for such a mischievous purpose. A usual synecdoche. And if men strive together,.... Quarrel and fight, and wrestle with and box one another:

and one smite another with a stone; which lying near him he might take up, and in his passion throw it at his antagonist:

or with his fist; with his double fist, as we express it, with his hand closed, that it might come with the greater force, and give the greater blow:

and he die not, but keepeth his bed; does not die with the blow of the stone or fist, yet receives so much damage by it that he is obliged to take to his bed; or, as the Targum of Jerusalem paraphrases it, is cast on the bed sick; or, as the Targum of Jonathan, falls into a disease, as a fever, or the like, through the force of the blow, so that he is confined to his room and to his bed.

And if men strive together, and one smite another with a {n} stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed:

(n) Either far away from him or near.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. contend] or dispute, wrangle in words: rendered strive, Genesis 26:20-21, contend, as here, Nehemiah 13:11; Nehemiah 13:17.

fist] Isaiah 58:4 †. So LXX. Vulg. Di.: the Heb. ’egrôph has also this sense in the Talm. The meaning spade or hoe, which Ryssel in Di.2 argues for, would be possible etymologically (for the root signifies to scoop or sweep away, Jdg 5:21): but it does not suit Isaiah 58:4. The rend. of the Targums, club or cudgel, would suit both passages, but lacks philological justification.

and he die not] for, if he did, the case would be regulated presumably by the mishpâṭ of v. 12.

18, 19. Bodily injury inflicted in a quarrel.

18–27. Bodily injuries caused by human beings. Four cases are taken, two arising out of a quarrel, and two out of rough treatment of a slave (vv. 22–25 would more naturally follow vv. 18, 19). In fixing the penalties, consideration is taken of the status and sex of the persons involved, as also of the character of the injury, and the consequences following from it.

18–36. Bodily injuries, caused (a) by human beings, vv. 18–27; (b) by animals, or through the neglect of reasonable precautions, vv. 28–36.Verses 18, 19 - Severe assault. Assault was punishable by the law in two ways. Ordinarily, the rule was that of strict retaliation' ' Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe" (vers. 24, 25; compare Leviticus 24:20, and Deuteronomy 19:21). But where the assault was severe, causing a man to take to his bed, and call in the physician' s aid, something more was needed. The Rabbinical commentators tell us that in this case he was arrested, and sent to prison until it was ascertained whether the person hurt would die or no. If he died, the man was tried for murder; if he recovered, a fine was imposed. This was axed at such a sum as would at once compensate the injured man for his loss of time and defray the expense of his cure. A similar principle is adopted under our own law in many cases of civil action. Verse 18. - If men strive together. If there is a quarrel and a personal encounter. In our own law this would reduce this offence, if death ensued, to manslaughter. With a stone, or with his fist. The use of either would show absence of premeditation, and of any design to kill. A weapon would have to be prepared beforehand: a stone might be readily caught up. Still higher than personal liberty, however, is life itself, the right of existence and personality; and the infliction of injury upon this was not only prohibited, but to be followed by punishment corresponding to the crime. The principle of retribution, jus talionis, which is the only one that embodies the idea of justice, lies at the foundation of these threats.

Exodus 21:12-13

A death-blow was to be punished with death (cf. Genesis 9:6; Leviticus 24:17). "He that smiteth a man and (so that) he die (whether on the spot or directly afterwards did not matter), he shall be put to death." This general rule is still further defined by a distinction being drawn between accidental and intentional killing. "But whoever has not lain in wait (for another's life), and God has caused it to come to his hand" (to kill the other); i.e., not only if he did not intend to kill him, but did not even cherish the intention of smiting him, or of doing him harm from hatred and enmity (Numbers 35:16-23; Deuteronomy 19:4-5), and therefore did so quite unawares, according to a dispensation of God, which is generally called an accident because it is above our comprehension. For such a man God would appoint places of refuge, where he should be protected against the avenger of blood. (On this point, see Numbers 35:9.).

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