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Exodus 21:12-36 The Death Penalty…

YeHoVaH, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, Maker of all things, and Giver of life considered the taking of life a very serious matter. Moses, who had taken an Egyptian’s life and fled to Midian, now found himself in the presence of the Almighty receiving instructions for the death penalty as a judgment for the taking of a life. 

The Death Penalty was the result of a variety of extreme and very serious cases and administered according to strict rules. Inevitably, conflict would arise amongst the Hebrew community that would lead to violence, even death of man and of beast.

Join us as we listen in and examine the rules and regulations given by YeHoVaH to Moses to give to the Hebrew Israelites on what to do when conflicts amongst them would require The Death Penalty…

One might ask, why would a benevolent, compassionate, gracious, and merciful God establish such a cruel  Law as the death penalty amongst the Hebrew people?

The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.

Ge 8:21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.


Ge 9:6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

The Laws YeHoVaH gave Moses to give to Israel dealt with the evil imagination of man's heart in order to put away the evil from amongst them.

The newly formed nation of Hebrew Israelites thought YeHoVaH and Moses had plotted to kill them and their children.

Ex 16:3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

The newly formed nation of Hebrew Israelites had demonstrated they had malice and violence in their hearts that caused Moses to think that they would stone him.

Ex 17:3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? 

Ex 17:4 And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.

The welfare of the individual was equal to the welfare of the community and vice versa. Each individual had to be responsible and accountable to the Law for the well-being of the entire community. Everyone had to be treated equally and fairly without partiality.  

The death penalty was based on a distinction between premeditated murder and unintentional or accidental death.

Ex 21:12 He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.

Ex 21:13 And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee.

Father does not intervene.

 YeHoVaH allowed Cain to murder Abel.

Cities of refuge Numbers 35:6.

Nu 35:6 And among the cities which ye shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee thither: and to them ye shall add forty and two cities.


Ex 21:14 But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.

These matters would be tried before judges.

Ex 21:15 And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.

05221 נָכָה nakah {naw-kaw'} 

Meaning:  1) to strike, smite, hit, beat, slay, kill 

Usage:  AV - smite 348, slay 92, kill 20, beat 9, slaughter 5, stricken 3, given 3, wounded 3, strike 2, stripes 2, misc 13; 500 


Ex 21:16 And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.



Dt 24:7 If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you.

Ex 21:17 And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

07043 קָלַל qalal {kaw-lal'} 

Meaning:  1) to be slight, be swift, be trifling, be of little account, be light 

Usage:  AV - curse 39, swifter 5, light thing 5, vile 4, lighter 4, despise 3, abated 2, ease 2, light 2, lighten 2, slightly 2, misc 12; 82

Dt 21:18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:

Dt 21:19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;

Dt 21:20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.

Dt 21:21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Ex 21:18 And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed:

Ex 21:19 If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed.

Healed – 07495 רָפָא rapha' {raw-faw'} or רָפָה raphah {raw-faw'} 

Meaning:  1) to heal, make healthful 

Usage:  AV - heal 57, physician 5, cure 1, repaired 1, misc 3; 67

The word healed could also refer to physician care.

Ge 50:2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel.

The accused is responsible for the care and healing of the victim. 

Ex 21:20 And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.

Ex 21:21 Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.


Money – 03701 כֶּסֶף keceph {keh'-sef} 

Meaning:  1) silver, money 1a) silver 1a1) as metal 1a2) as ornament 1a3) as colour 1b) money, shekels, talents 

Usage:  AV - silver 287, money 112, price 3, silverlings 1; 403

Ex 21:22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

The judges decide punishment and payment or restitution.

Ex 21:23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,

If there is further damage later, as a result of the incident, the guilty party is responsible. 

Ex 21:24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

Ex 21:25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Ex 21:26 And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye's sake.

The value of the eye is the value of freedom.

Ex 21:27 And if he smite out his manservant's tooth, or his maidservant's tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth's sake.

The value of the tooth is the value of freedom.

Ex 21:28 If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit.

Gore and push is the same Hebrew word. 

05055 נָגַח nagach {naw-gakh'} 

Meaning:  1) to push, thrust, gore 1a) (Qal) to gore 1b) (Piel) to push or thrust at 1c) (Hithpael) to engage in thrusting, wage war 

Usage:  AV - push 8, gore 3; 11

The ox apparently had a temperament for evil also.

Animal owners were responsible for their animals and whatever damage or harm they caused.

Ex 21:29 But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death. 

Ex 21:30 If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him.

Ex 21:31 Whether he have gored a son, or have gored a daughter, according to this judgment shall it be done unto him.

Ex 21:32 If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

Ex 21:33 And if a man shall open a pit, or if a man shall dig a pit, and not cover it, and an ox or an ass fall therein;

Ex 21:34 The owner of the pit shall make it good, and give money unto the owner of them; and the dead beast shall be his.

Ex 21:35 And if one man's ox hurt another's, that he die; then they shall sell the live ox, and divide the money of it; and the dead ox also they shall divide.

Ex 21:36 Or if it be known that the ox hath used to push in time past, and his owner hath not kept him in; he shall surely pay ox for ox; and the dead shall be his own.

  • How we deal with each other is not just between us, but between each other and YeHoVaH. 

  • How we treat our brother is a major concern of YeHoVaH. 

  • The love we have for one another is an indication of the love we have for YeHoVaH.

1Jn 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

1Jn 4:21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

1Jn 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

1Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

Last Updated on October 19, 2021 by

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