About Kidnapping
Exodus 21:16
And he that steals a man, and sells him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.

The same law is repeated in Deuteronomy 24:7; from which passage it is evident that it treats of kidnapping a Hebrew. And thus the severity of the punishment, death, without the possibility of redemption, cannot appear surprising. For all Israelites are considered as free citizens with inalienable and equal rights, of which they can never be entirely divested. Now it is natural that he who steals an Israelite will, in the rarest cases, keep him as his slave or sell him to an Israelite, as the injured person could, in the Holy Land, easily find means to inform the authorities of his fate, and thus cause the punishment of his criminal master. The latter, therefore, generally sold the kidnapped individual to foreign merchants into distant lands, either to Egyptians, who commanded the land commerce to the south, or to Phoenicians, who influenced the trade to the west; and opportunities of selling must have easily offered themselves, as Palestine was situated in the exact centre of the commerce of the East. But by such sale, free Israelites became permanent slaves; they forfeited with their liberty their chief characteristic as Hebrews, and were thus lost to the Hebrew community, the more so, as the exclusive intercourse with pagans must necessarily defile the purity of their faith, and gradually accustom their thoughts to idolatry. For this reason it was in the Mosaic law, interdicted to sell even thieves into foreign countries, because thereby souls are, as it were, extirpated from Israel. Thus he who kidnapped Israelites and sold them to other countries justly deserved death, especially if we consider the most melancholy and bitter lot to which the slaves of heathen nations were generally doomed.

(M. M. Kalisch, P h. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.

WEB: "Anyone who kidnaps someone and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.

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