Exodus 21:27
And if he smite out his manservant's tooth, or his maidservant's tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth's sake.
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21:22-36 The cases here mentioned give rules of justice then, and still in use, for deciding similar matters. We are taught by these laws, that we must be very careful to do no wrong, either directly or indirectly. If we have done wrong, we must be very willing to make it good, and be desirous that nobody may lose by us.Freedom was the proper equivalent for permanent injury. 23-25. eye for eye—The law which authorized retaliation (a principle acted upon by all primitive people) was a civil one. It was given to regulate the procedure of the public magistrate in determining the amount of compensation in every case of injury, but did not encourage feelings of private revenge. The later Jews, however, mistook it for a moral precept, and were corrected by our Lord (Mt 5:38-42). Some confine this to the Israelitish servants, but the text doth not so limit it; and the reason of the law seems to reach to Gentile servants, this being a just punishment to unmerciful masters, (who ought to be merciful to their beasts, much more to such servants,) and a fit recompence to a servant for such a loss. And this law reacheth the loss of any other member, these two being instanced in, the one as the chief, and the other as the meanest, to intimate that other parts of a like or middle nature are included.

And if he smite out his manservant's tooth, or his maidservant's tooth,.... Give them such a slap on the face, or a blow on the mouth, as to strike out one of their teeth; this also the Targum of Jonathan and Jarchi restrain to a Canaanitish servant or maid:

he shall let him go free for his tooth's sake; both him and her, the servant and the maid; this, though of lesser consequence than the loss of an eye, was punished in the same manner with the loss of the servant man or maid, to make masters careful how they abused their servants in any degree. And though only these parts are expressed, yet Jarchi and Aben Ezra observe, that all other principal members of the body, which they reckon to be twenty four, are included, as the fingers, toes, &c.

And if he smite {s} out his manservant's tooth, or his maidservant's tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth's sake.

(s) So God revenges cruelty in the even the least things.

Exodus 21:27But the lex talionis applied to the free Israelite only, not to slaves. In the case of the latter, if the master struck out an eye and destroyed it, i.e., blinded him with the blow, or struck out a tooth, he was to let him go free, as a compensation for the loss of the member. Eye and tooth are individual examples selected to denote all the members, from the most important and indispensable down to the very least.
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