Sep. 16. Various Civil Laws

Ex. 21:1-22:15

As God expanded upon His basic ten commandments, He recognized the presence of slavery in the land. Without strictly forbidding it, He gave regulations to guide the Israelites in dealing with slavery. Actually, in some cases, a poor person would be better off being under the care of a good master as a slave, than he would be fending for himself. Provisions were made that after every six years, slaves would be freed unless they had committed themselves for life to their master.

Premeditated murder and kidnapping were high on God’s list of capital offences. Even the next of kin could legally take the life of someone who had accidentally killed a relative. However, God did provide cities of refuge for a person who had accidentally killed someone.

Slaves were to be treated humanely. In the event of mistreatment, if a slave lost a tooth or an eye, he would be set free. If a slave were killed by his master, the master would then be put to death.

The Israelites were responsible for their personal actions. If through carelessness or neglect, they caused harm to someone else, they were required to make restitution according to the amount of damage that was caused. They were also responsible for the actions of their livestock.

God made provisions for respecting the property rights of others. Laws and penalties were provided to punish thieves and recompense their victims.