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Bible Commentaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

Exodus 21

Verse 1


For the better apprehension of the moral law before given in the second table of it, Moses enlargeth in this Chapter upon the particular precepts, in relation to the duty to be shown to servants, and the regulation of conduct, in many circumstances of social life.

Exodus 21:1

We shall find but little occasion, to enlarge on the several parts of the Chapter; the statutes here appointed by God, and which of themselves arise out of our duties to him, plainly comprise all the secondary, and subordinate obligations we owe to one another. That maxim of the apostle's is an universal maxim. 1 John 4:20-21 .

Verses 2-3

Oh! that this precept was duly considered in its whole extent, by those who deal in human traffic. Observe, how the Lord himself interposeth by it to induce mercy. Deu_15:12; Deu_15:18 .

Verse 4

Is there not in this verse an allusion to the offspring of believers? See Psa_86:16; Psa_116:16 .

Verses 5-6

Beside the sense of those verses in reference to the servitude among the houses of Israel, is there not somewhat strikingly typical of the Lord Jesus here represented? Did he not say, by the mouth of the prophet, from the love he had to his Father and his Father's house, I delight to do thy will, O my God: mine ears hast thou opened. Psalms 40:6; Psalms 40:6 ; John 8:35 .

Verses 7-11

Here again, beside the moral lesson taught of doing what is just and right, here is a spiritual intimation of the betrothing of the heart to the Lord intended from it. The humblest of the Lord's freemen cannot be sold for bondage to a strange nation. John 8:36 .

Verses 12-14

In these verses here is a distinction made between willful murder and unintentional manslaughter. Genesis 9:6 .

Verse 15

Observe the uplifted hand in smiting the parent is made capital, like the sin of murder. Proverbs 30:17 ; Deuteronomy 21:21; Deuteronomy 21:21 .

Verse 16

Observe, that among the Israelites, the very idea of stealing man, woman, or child, must have been with a view to sell them to the heathen nations; because no Hebrew could, by the law, become the purchaser. Hence the greatness of the crime was increased, The apostle classes this sin among the most heinous. 1 Timothy 1:10 .

Verse 17

Proverbs 20:20 .

Verses 18-21

The apostle hath the best comment upon these precepts. Ephesians 6:9; Ephesians 6:9 .

Verses 22-27

The gospel sums up these things in a comprehensive manner. Colossians 3:25 . And our dear Lord folds up the sense of those relative duties, in his unequalled language, Matthew 5:38-39 .

Verses 28-36

Observe, from those laws, how offensive in the sight of God blood-shedding is, even when committed by the unconscious brute, as well as by rational creatures.

Verse 36


WHAT a holy, pure, and undefiled religion is that which carries with it evidences of its divine origin and authority, in attending to the most minute circumstances of what is right and just. And what a gracious, merciful, compassionate, and ever-attentive God to the happiness of his creation, must the Lord our God be, who thus enjoins a system of laws, the very observance of which promotes universal welfare. Oh! my God, dispose my heart by thy grace to works of love and tenderness, both to man and beast. Do thou enable me to put on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering. And may the peace of God so rule in my heart, that I may follow peace with all men.

Reader! let us not close the Chapter, without first asking grace and wisdom to discern the outlines of the Lord Jesus in it, as the voluntary servant of his Father, who, for the love he bore to him, and to us his captive wife and children, cheerfully consented to have his ears opened and would not go out free, until he had accomplished all the work to which he was called, and what he had graciously undertaken. Oh! thou precious God of my salvation, thou who, though rich, yet for my sake didst become poor; and though in the form of God, and with whom it was no robbery to be equal with God, yet didst make thyself of no reputation, arid didst take upon thee the form of a servant; mercifully grant, that the same mind may be in me which was so strikingly displayed by thyself: may it be the language of my soul, 'I love my Lord, I love my Master, I love his service, in it I would dwell: I will not go out free, but I will abide in it forever.'

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Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Exodus 21". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.