Exodus 21:30
If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatever is laid on him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(30) Whatsoever is laid upon him.—Primarily, by the aggrieved relatives; but in the case of an exorbitant demand there was, no doubt, an appeal to the judges, who would then fix the amount.

Exodus 21:30. If there be laid on him a sum of money — By the avenger of blood, the next akin to the party slain, who is willing to exchange the punishment, or by the judge.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.The animal was slain as a tribute to the sanctity of human life (Compare the marginal references and Genesis 4:11). It was stoned, and its flesh was treated as carrion. Guilty negligence on the part of its owner was reckoned a capital offence, to be commuted for a fine.

In the case of a slave, the payment was the standard price of a slave, thirty shekels of silver. See Leviticus 25:44-46; Leviticus 27:3, and the marginal references for the New Testament application of this fact.

30. If there be laid on him a sum of money, &c.—Blood fines are common among the Arabs as they were once general throughout the East. This is the only case where a money compensation, instead of capital punishment, was expressly allowed in the Mosaic law. If there be laid on him; either by the avenger of blood, the next akin to the party slain, who is willing to exchange the punishment; or by the judge, who may discern some circumstances which may much lessen the crime, as if an ox had broken his cords wherewith he was tied, or broke forth through the carelessness or wickedness of his servant to whose care he was committed. If there be laid on him a sum of money,.... By the decree of the judges, as Aben Ezra, or which the sanhedrim of Israel have laid upon him; if his sentence of death is commuted for a fine, with the consent of the relations of the deceased, who in such a case are willing to show mercy, and take a fine instead of the person's death; supposing it was through carelessness and negligence, and not with any ill design that he did not keep up his ox from doing damage, after he had notice:

then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatever, is laid upon him; whatever mulct or fine he is amerced with by the court, instead of the sentence of death first pronounced. Of this ransom Maimonides (q) thus writes:"the ransom is according as the judges consider what is the price (or value) of him that is slain; (i.e. according to his rank, whether a noble or common man, a free man or a servant) all is according to the estimation of him that is slain.--To whom do they give the ransom? to the heirs of the slain; and if a woman is killed, the ransom is given to the heirs of her father's (family), and not to her husband.''

(q) Hilchot Niske Mammon, c. 11. sect. 1, 2.

If there be laid on him a {u} sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him.

(u) By the next of the kindred of him that is so slain.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
30. The owner of the ox may, however, escape the extreme penalty of the law, if the relatives of the man who had been killed are willing to accept a money-compensation for his life. The owner’s negligence amounted to murder only in theory, so it was reasonable to allow him his merciful alternative.

be laid on him (cf. v. 22)] viz. by the relatives of the man who has been killed.

a ransom] Heb. kôpher, the price of a life: see Exodus 30:12, Psalm 49:7, Proverbs 6:35; Proverbs 13:8; Proverbs 21:18, Isaiah 43:3. This and v. 32 are the only cases in which Heb. law allowed what was so common among many ancient nations, the ποινή, or ‘wergild,’ i.e. the money offered for the life of a murdered man to appease a kinsman’s wrath: see Numbers 35:31 f. (P), where the acceptance of a kôpher is forbidden.

redemption] The same word, in a similar connexion, Psalm 49:8 (where ‘soul’ = ‘life’ here, lit. soul). For the corresponding verb, used of the redemption of a life that is forfeit, see on Exodus 13:13.Verse 30. - If there be a fine laid upon him. There can scarcely have been any circumstances under which the penalty of death would have been enforced. No neglect could bring the crime into the category of murder. It is assumed, therefore, that practically the penalty would be a fine, proportioned no doubt to the value of the life taken. If men strove and thrust against a woman with child, who had come near or between them for the purpose of making peace, so that her children come out (come into the world), and no injury was done either to the woman or the child that was born,

(Note: The words ילדיה ויצאוּ are rendered by the lxx καὶ ἐξέλθη τὸ παιδίον αὐτῆς μὴ ἐξεικονισμένον and the corresponding clause יהיה אסון ואם by ἐὰν δὲ ἐξεικονισμένον ᾖ; consequently the translators have understood the words as meaning that the fruit, the premature birth of which was caused by the blow, if not yet developed into a human form, was not to be regarded as in any sense a human being, so that the giver of the blow was only required to pay a pecuniary compensation, - as Philo expresses it, "on account of the injury done to the woman, and because he prevented nature, which forms and shapes a man into the most beautiful being, from bringing him forth alive." But the arbitrary character of this explanation is apparent at once; for ילד only denotes a child, as a fully developed human being, and not the fruit of the womb before it has assumed a human form. In a manner no less arbitrary אסון has been rendered by Onkelos and the Rabbins מותא, death, and the clause is made to refer to the death of the mother alone, in opposition to the penal sentence in Exodus 21:23, Exodus 21:24, which not only demands life for life, but eye for eye, etc., and therefore presupposes not death alone, but injury done to particular members. The omission of להּ, also, apparently renders it impracticable to refer the words to injury done to the woman alone.)

a pecuniary compensation was to be paid, such as the husband of the woman laid upon him, and he was to give it בּפללים by (by an appeal to) arbitrators. A fine is imposed, because even if no injury had been done to the woman and the fruit of her womb, such a blow might have endangered life. (For יצא roF( to go out of the womb, see Genesis 25:25-26.) The plural ילדיה is employed for the purpose of speaking indefinitely, because there might possibly be more than one child in the womb. "But if injury occur (to the mother or the child), thou shalt give soul for soul, eye for eye,...wound for wound:" thus perfect retribution was to be made.

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