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Exodus Chapter 21 | Parsha: Mishpatim

1These are the rules that you shall set before them:

2When you acquire a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years; in the seventh year he shall go free, without payment. 3If he came single, he shall leave single; if he had a wife, his wife shall leave with him. 4If his master gave him a wife, and she has borne him children, the wife and her children shall belong to the master, and he shall leave alone. 5But if the slave declares, “I love my master, and my wife and children: I do not wish to go free,” 6his master shall take him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall then remain his slave for life.

7When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not be freed as male slaves are. 8If she proves to be displeasing to her master, who designated her for himself, he must let her be redeemed; he shall not have the right to sell her to outsiders, since he broke faith with her. 9And if he designated her for his son, he shall deal with her as is the practice with free maidens. 10If he marries another, he must not withhold from this one her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. 11If he fails her in these three ways, she shall go free, without payment.

12He who fatally strikes a man shall be put to death. 13If he did not do it by design, but it came about by an act of God, I will assign you a place to which he can flee.

14When a man schemes against another and kills him treacherously, you shall take him from My very altar to be put to death.

15He who strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.

16He who kidnaps a man—whether he has sold him or is still holding him—shall be put to death.

17He who insults his father or his mother shall be put to death.

18When men quarrel and one strikes the other with stone or fist, and he does not die but has to take to his bed— 19if he then gets up and walks outdoors upon his staff, the assailant shall go unpunished, except that he must pay for his idleness and his cure.

20When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod, and he dies there and then, he must be avenged. 21But if he survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, since he is the other’s property.

22When men fight, and one of them pushes a pregnant woman and a miscarriage results, but no other damage ensues, the one responsible shall be fined according as the woman’s husband may exact from him, the payment to be based on reckoning. 23But if other damage ensues, the penalty shall be life for life, 24eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

26When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye. 27If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth.

28When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner of the ox is not to be punished. 29If, however, that ox has been in the habit of goring, and its owner, though warned, has failed to guard it, and it kills a man or a woman—the ox shall be stoned and its owner, too, shall be put to death. 30If ransom is laid upon him, he must pay whatever is laid upon him to redeem his life. 31So, too, if it gores a minor, male or female, [the owner] shall be dealt with according to the same rule. 32But if the ox gores a slave, male or female, he shall pay thirty shekels of silver to the master, and the ox shall be stoned.

33When a man opens a pit, or digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or an ass falls into it, 34the one responsible for the pit must make restitution; he shall pay the price to the owner, but shall keep the dead animal.

35When a man’s ox injures his neighbor’s ox and it dies, they shall sell the live ox and divide its price; they shall also divide the dead animal. 36If, however, it is known that the ox was in the habit of goring, and its owner has failed to guard it, he must restore ox for ox, but shall keep the dead animal.

37When a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen for the ox, and four sheep for the sheep.—

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