Exodus 21:16
Whoever kidnaps another man must be put to death, whether he sells him or the man is found in his possession.
About KidnappingM. M. Kalisch, P h. D.Exodus 21:16
Unrighteousness of Slave HoldingJ. Swinton.Exodus 21:16
Capital OffencesD. Young Exodus 21:12-17
Murder and Related Capital OffencesJ. Orr Exodus 21:12-18

It is characteristic of the law of Moses that its first care, in the practical ordering of the Hebrew theocracy, is for the rights of the slave. These are dealt with in the opening paragraphs. The next laws relate to murder, to man-stealing, and to smiting and cursing of parents.

I. MURDER (vers. 12-15). The same spirit of justice which attaches severe penalties to proved crimes, leads to the drawing of a sound line of distinction between voluntary and involuntary actions. Only for actions of the former class is the individual held responsible. Homicide which is purely accidental is not treated as a crime (ver. 13). Not only is the man who kills his neighbour inadvertently not punished with death, but the law interposes to protect him from the fury of such as might unjustly seek his life, by appointing for him a place of refuge. (Cf. Numbers 35.; Deuteronomy 19.) The deliberate murderer, on the other hand, was to be taken even from God''s altar, and put to death (ver. 14). Deliberate murder implies "malice aforethought" - "intent to kill" - but it was sufficient to expose a man to the penalty attaching to this crime, that he had been guilty of an act of violence, resulting in another''s death (ver. 12; cf. vers. 19, 23). Note on this law -

1. The recognition of Divine Providence in the so-called accidents of life (ver. 13).

2. The sacredness attached to the human person. The religious ground of the enactment is given in Genesis 9:6 - "Whoso sheddeth man''s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man." "The true Shechinah is man" (Chrysostom).

3. The ethical character of the Hebrew religion. The altar is to afford no sanctuary to the murderer. The Bible knows nothing of a religion which is in divorce from morality. This law condemns by implication all connivance at, or sheltering of, immorality, under religious sanctions (Romish huckstering of pardons, etc.).

II. MAN-STEALING (ver. 16). The statute is perfectly general. There is no evidence that it applied only to Hebrews, though these are specially mentioned in Deuteronomy 24:7. The stealing and selling of a Hebrew was a direct offence against Jehovah. (Cf. Leviticus 25:42.) "For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondsmen." The passage is a direct condemnation of the modern slave trade.

III. SMITING AND CURSING OF PARENTS (vers. 15-17). These offences also were to be punished with death. The fact that they are bracketed in the law with murder and manstealing, gives a peculiar impression of their enormity. As if the statute book had said, after laying down the law for murder - "And for the purposes of this law, the smiting or cursing of a father or a mother shall be regarded as equivalent to the taking of a life." And this view of the matter is, in a moral respect, hardly too strong. It would be difficult to say what crime a man is not capable of, who could deliberately smite or curse father or mother. As special reasons for the severity of the law, observe -

1. Hebrew society rested largely on a patriarchal basis, and the due maintenance of parental authority was a necessity of its existence. Just as it is found still that, whatever the form of social order, the spread of a spirit of insubordination to parents is the invariable prelude to a universal loosening of ties and obligations.

2. Parents are regarded as standing to their children in the relation of visible representatives of Jehovah (see fifth commandment). This, in the Hebrew theocracy, gave to the crime of cursing or smiting a parent the character of a treasonable act. It was an offence against the majesty of Jehovah, and as such, required to be promptly avenged. On the same ground it was forbidden to revile magistrates, or curse the ruler of the people (Exodus 22:28). The law is a standing testimony to the heinousness attaching in the sight of God to the sin of filial disobedience. - J.O.

He that stealeth a man.
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.)

At the time slaves were held in the State of New York, one of them, escaping into Vermont, was captured and taken before the court at Middlebury by his owner, who asked the court to give him possession of his slave property. Judge Harrington listened attentively to the proofs of ownership, but said that he was not convinced that the title was perfect. Then the counsel asked what more was required. "Until you bring me a bill of sale from God Almighty you cannot have this man."

(J. Swinton.)

Mount Sinai
Act, Anyone, Caught, Certainly, Death, Either, Gets, Kidnaps, Order, Possession, Power, Price, Selleth, Sells, Sold, Someone, Stealeth, Steals, Surely, Whether
1. Laws for men servants
5. For the servant whose ear is bored
7. For women servants
12. For manslaughter
16. For kidnappers
17. For cursers of parents
18. For smiters
22. For a hurt by chance
28. For an ox that gores
33. For him who is an occasion of harm

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Exodus 21:16

     5365   kidnapping
     5555   stealing

Exodus 21:12-17

     9021   death, natural

Exodus 21:12-20

     5214   attack

Exodus 21:15-17

     5731   parents
     7346   death penalty

Exodus 21:15-25

     6206   offence

The Development of the Earlier Old Testament Laws
[Sidenote: First the principle, and then the detailed laws] If the canon of the New Testament had remained open as long as did that of the Old, there is little doubt that it also would have contained many laws, legal precedents, and ecclesiastical histories. From the writings of the Church Fathers and the records of the Catholic Church it is possible to conjecture what these in general would have been. The early history of Christianity illustrates the universal fact that the broad principles are
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

The Kinsman Redeemer
'After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him.'--LEV. xxv. 48. There are several of the institutions and precepts of the Mosaic legislation which, though not prophetic, nor typical, have yet remarkable correspondences with lofty Christian truth. They may be used as symbols, if only we remember that we are diverting them from their original purpose. How singularly these words lend themselves to the statement of the very central truths of Christianity--a slavery
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

'Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.'--MATT. v. 38-42. The old law
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

A Discourse of the Building, Nature, Excellency, and Government of the House of God; with Counsels and Directions to the Inhabitants Thereof.
BY JOHN BUNYAN, OF BEDFORD. 'Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.'--Psalm 26:8 ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. Beautiful in its simplicity is this treatise on the Church of Christ, by John Bunyan. He opens, with profound knowledge and eminent skill, all those portions of sacred writ which illustrate the nature, excellency, and government of the house of God, with the personal and relative duties of its inhabitants. It was originally published in
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Appeal to the Christian Women of the South
BY A.E. GRIMKE. "Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not within thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place: but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this. And Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer:--and so will I go in unto the king,
Angelina Emily Grimke—An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South

The Doctrine of Non-Resistance to Evil by Force Has Been Professed by a Minority of Men from the Very Foundation of Christianity. Of the Book "What
CHAPTER I. THE DOCTRINE OF NON-RESISTANCE TO EVIL BY FORCE HAS BEEN PROFESSED BY A MINORITY OF MEN FROM THE VERY FOUNDATION OF CHRISTIANITY. Of the Book "What I Believe"--The Correspondence Evoked by it-- Letters from Quakers--Garrison's Declaration--Adin Ballou, his Works, his Catechism--Helchitsky's "Net of Faith"--The Attitude of the World to Works Elucidating Christ's Teaching--Dymond's Book "On War"--Musser's "Non-resistance Asserted"--Attitude of the Government in 1818 to Men who Refused to
Leo Tolstoy—The Kingdom of God is within you

The Sermon on the Mount - the Kingdom of Christ and Rabbinic Teaching.
It was probably on one of those mountain-ranges, which stretch to the north of Capernaum, that Jesus had spent the night of lonely prayer, which preceded the designation of the twelve to the Apostolate. As the soft spring morning broke, He called up those who had learned to follow Him, and from among them chose the twelve, who were to be His Ambassadors and Representatives. [2500] [2501] But already the early light had guided the eager multitude which, from all parts, had come to the broad level
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Deputation from Jerusalem - the Three Sects of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes - Examination of their Distinctive Doctrines.
APART from the repulsively carnal form which it had taken, there is something absolutely sublime in the continuance and intensity of the Jewish expectation of the Messiah. It outlived not only the delay of long centuries, but the persecutions and scattering of the people; it continued under the disappointment of the Maccabees, the rule of a Herod, the administration of a corrupt and contemptible Priesthood, and, finally, the government of Rome as represented by a Pilate; nay, it grew in intensity
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Sixth Commandment
Thou shalt not kill.' Exod 20: 13. In this commandment is a sin forbidden, which is murder, Thou shalt not kill,' and a duty implied, which is, to preserve our own life, and the life of others. The sin forbidden is murder: Thou shalt not kill.' Here two things are to be understood, the not injuring another, nor ourselves. I. The not injuring another. [1] We must not injure another in his name. A good name is a precious balsam.' It is a great cruelty to murder a man in his name. We injure others in
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

That Deep Things Ought not to be Preached at all to Weak Souls.
But the preacher should know how to avoid drawing the mind of his hearer beyond its strength, lest, so to speak, the string of the soul, when stretched more than it can bear, should be broken. For all deep things should be covered up before a multitude of hearers, and scarcely opened to a few. For hence the Truth in person says, Who, thinkest thou, is the faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord has appointed over his household, to give them their measure of wheat in due season? (Luke xii. 42).
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great

In Death and after Death
A sadder picture could scarcely be drawn than that of the dying Rabbi Jochanan ben Saccai, that "light of Israel" immediately before and after the destruction of the Temple, and for two years the president of the Sanhedrim. We read in the Talmud (Ber. 28 b) that, when his disciples came to see him on his death-bed, he burst into tears. To their astonished inquiry why he, "the light of Israel, the right pillar of the Temple, and its mighty hammer," betrayed such signs of fear, he replied: "If I were
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life

Councils of Ariminum and Seleucia.
Part I. History of the Councils. Reason why two Councils were called. Inconsistency and folly of calling any; and of the style of the Arian formularies; occasion of the Nicene Council; proceedings at Ariminum; Letter of the Council to Constantius; its decree. Proceedings at Seleucia; reflections on the conduct of the Arians. 1. Perhaps news has reached even yourselves concerning the Council, which is at this time the subject of general conversation; for letters both from the Emperor and the Prefects
Athanasius—Select Works and Letters or Athanasius

The Section Chap. I. -iii.
The question which here above all engages our attention, and requires to be answered, is this: Whether that which is reported in these chapters did, or did not, actually and outwardly take place. The history of the inquiries connected with this question is found most fully in Marckius's "Diatribe de uxore fornicationum," Leyden, 1696, reprinted in the Commentary on the Minor Prophets by the same author. The various views may be divided into three classes. 1. It is maintained by very many interpreters,
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

The Blessing of Jacob Upon Judah. (Gen. Xlix. 8-10. )
Ver. 8. "Judah, thou, thy brethren shall praise thee; thy hand shall be on the neck of thine enemies; before thee shall bow down the sons of thy father. Ver. 9. A lion's whelp is Judah; from the prey, my son, thou goest up; he stoopeth down, he coucheth as a lion, and as a full-grown lion, who shall rouse him up? Ver. 10. The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and unto Him the people shall adhere." Thus does dying Jacob, in announcing
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

The book of Exodus--so named in the Greek version from the march of Israel out of Egypt--opens upon a scene of oppression very different from the prosperity and triumph in which Genesis had closed. Israel is being cruelly crushed by the new dynasty which has arisen in Egypt (i.) and the story of the book is the story of her redemption. Ultimately it is Israel's God that is her redeemer, but He operates largely by human means; and the first step is the preparation of a deliverer, Moses, whose parentage,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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