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Bible Commentaries

Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

Exodus 21

Verses 1-36

At this point we have certain laws which apply the principles of the Decalogue to life. The first movement has to do with the laws of the person. This begins with the relation of slaves to their masters. By these laws slavery was changed into covenant relationship. Henceforward the condition of slaves among the Hebrew people would be in marked distinction to slavery as existing among other peoples. It was the beginning of a great moral movement. The right of a master to service by a definite bond was recognized, but the right of the servant to freedom on fulfilment of the bond was also recognized.

Then followed laws dealing with possible injury of man by man. Life was to be held so sacred that he who took it must forfeit his own. If a killing were premeditated there must be no escape. If the act were unpremeditated, provision was made for a place of refuge. Every detail emphasized the sanctity of human life.

Finally, this sanctity is still in mind in the laws dealing with injury and death wrought by cattle.

It is impossible to read these laws carefully without being impressed with their absolute equity and righteousness and at the same time with their thoroughness. Here, as in other cases, carelessness was never to be an excuse.

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Bibliographical Information
Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Exodus 21". "Morgan's Exposition on the Bible". 1857-84.