I had no idea how hard this would be. If I had begun here, stopping, I would have stopped long ago. Stumbling along, I can still stumble, but read on and see why my soulless reading is key to recognizing that life is not as simple or as transparent or as perspicuous as the traditional translations would lead you to believe.
Here I can see that I must use male language. The laws here were made for men and while they may apply to the women by implication in some cases, there are specifics about women that require one to see gender differences. There is no gender blindness in this part of the ancient text. My thinking at the moment is that for reading these ancient texts, one might as well recognize that the imposition of this particular modern bias is a distraction sometimes not worth the effort because the modern bias distorts what one is supposed to learn from the reading. Verse 21 shows an example of the male pronoun referring back to both a male or a female antecedent. The use of the male pronoun for non-gender-specific reference is early. Wherever a female reader would identify with the protagonist in a reading, let it be so. And wherever a male reader would identify with an explicitly female protagonist, let it be so. Without this faithful identity transformation, no reader will understand either the goodness of God or the abuse that is supremely evident in the human. We must learn to hear with God's voice.
Pronouns and prepositions have the usual difficulties. Regardless of gender, they are often ambiguous and the reader must supply the resolution as to which noun is the antecedent of which pronoun.
It is curious how the use of אלוהים (Elohim, God, the gods) changes in this chapter. In verse 6, it is applied to what may be human actors, and in verse 13, God is seen as the authority behind an accidental homicide. Note also the application of verse 14 to the situation of Joab which we read recently.
I am beginning to imagine ways of interpreting paired repeated words. Here we see them in case law, so the traditional application of some sort of emphasis seems legitimate (e.g. fully healed verse 19).
I note that the KJV is again very frequent with punishment where there is no such word in the Hebrew text. Equally they are frequent with oversimplification of glosses. The use of judges for both Elohim and פליל from פלל intercession in the same chapter, (see also Job's last speech for a similar usage in chapter 31), and the use of strive for both ריב and נצה within verses of each other underlines the problem of concordance in that version. While much variation in gloss is expected, I find the overlaps, and the unnecessary synonyms to be misleading. The overlaps are I think a deliberate simplification for the English reader. But the Bible is far from simple, and a simplistic reading leads to a mess of trouble. Well, if this chapter is any comfort, consequences are assured.
The lex talionis is one where people say, An eye for an eye and soon the whole world is blind. It seems to be more subtle than that. To date, in spite of the preposition problem, I have never used for for תהת (under, instead of, lower parts, etc) For for is a ubiquitous gloss in English. (As you can see four fors in those last two sentences.)
So verse 23 gave me pause - what will I do with נֶ֖פֶשׁ תַּ֥חַת נָֽפֶשׁ, soul תהת soul? being תהת being? Not life as KJV has, since that disobeys my rules. Perhaps integrity תהת integrity, or throat תהת throat. Life is a long distance interpretation. Who loses נפשׁ loses integrity, self, being, throat, its breath, and therefore its life. It is a dismal result of an accidental induced birth. For תהת, I have used here consistently the awkward in stead of, archaic I suspect.
Note the application of verse 37 in the case of Zacchaeus (Luke 19).
|וְאֵ֙לֶּה֙ הַמִּשְׁפָּטִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר תָּשִׂ֖ים לִפְנֵיהֶֽם||1||And these are the judgments that you will put before them.||3e||3g||14|
|כִּ֤י תִקְנֶה֙ עֶ֣בֶד עִבְרִ֔י שֵׁ֥שׁ שָׁנִ֖ים יַעֲבֹ֑ד |
וּבַ֨שְּׁבִעִ֔ת יֵצֵ֥א לַֽחָפְשִׁ֖י חִנָּֽם
|2||C||If you buy a Hebrew slave, six years he will serve, |
and in the seventh he will go out free for nothing.
|אִם־בְּגַפּ֥וֹ יָבֹ֖א בְּגַפּ֣וֹ יֵצֵ֑א |
אִם־בַּ֤עַל אִשָּׁה֙ ה֔וּא וְיָצְאָ֥ה אִשְׁתּ֖וֹ עִמּֽוֹ
|3||If by himself he came in, by himself he will come out. |
If he had married a wife, then his wife will go out with him.
|אִם־אֲדֹנָיו֙ יִתֶּן־ל֣וֹ אִשָּׁ֔ה וְיָלְדָה־ל֥וֹ בָנִ֖ים א֣וֹ בָנ֑וֹת |
הָאִשָּׁ֣ה וִילָדֶ֗יהָ תִּהְיֶה֙ לַֽאדֹנֶ֔יהָ וְה֖וּא יֵצֵ֥א בְגַפּֽוֹ
|4||If his master gave him a wife, and she gave birth for him to sons or daughters, |
the wife and her juveniles will be for her master, and he will come out by himself.
|וְאִם־אָמֹ֤ר יֹאמַר֙ הָעֶ֔בֶד אָהַ֙בְתִּי֙ אֶת־אֲדֹנִ֔י אֶת־אִשְׁתִּ֖י וְאֶת־בָּנָ֑י |
לֹ֥א אֵצֵ֖א חָפְשִֽׁי
|5||And if the servant say, I love my Lord, my wife, and my children, |
I will not go out free.
|וְהִגִּישׁ֤וֹ אֲדֹנָיו֙ אֶל־הָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים וְהִגִּישׁוֹ֙ אֶל־הַדֶּ֔לֶת א֖וֹ אֶל־הַמְּזוּזָ֑ה |
וְרָצַ֨ע אֲדֹנָ֤יו אֶת־אָזְנוֹ֙ בַּמַּרְצֵ֔עַ וַעֲבָד֖וֹ לְעֹלָֽם
|6||Then his master will bring him close to the gods, or he will bring him close to the gateway or to the jamb, |
and his master will awl his ear with an awl, and he will serve him forever.
|וְכִֽי־יִמְכֹּ֥ר אִ֛ישׁ אֶת־בִּתּ֖וֹ לְאָמָ֑ה |
לֹ֥א תֵצֵ֖א כְּצֵ֥את הָעֲבָדִֽים
|7||And if someone sells his daughter as a maidservant, |
she will not go out as the menservants go out.
|אִם־רָעָ֞ה בְּעֵינֵ֧י אֲדֹנֶ֛יהָ אֲשֶׁר־ל֥וֹ יְעָדָ֖הּ וְהֶפְדָּ֑הּ |
לְעַ֥ם נָכְרִ֛י לֹא־יִמְשֹׁ֥ל לְמָכְרָ֖הּ בְּבִגְדוֹ־בָֽהּ
|8||If she is evil in the eyes of her lord, who for himself engaged her, then he will let her be ransomed. |
It is not in his governance to sell her to a foreign people, given his treachery with her.
|וְאִם־לִבְנ֖וֹ יִֽיעָדֶ֑נָּה |
כְּמִשְׁפַּ֥ט הַבָּנ֖וֹת יַעֲשֶׂה־לָּֽהּ
|9||And if for his son, she is engaged, |
according to the framework of the daughters, he will do for her.
|אִם־אַחֶ֖רֶת יִֽקַּֽח־ל֑וֹ |
שְׁאֵרָ֛הּ כְּסוּתָ֥הּ וְעֹנָתָ֖הּ לֹ֥א יִגְרָֽע
|10||If another he takes for himself, |
her meat, her covering, and her conjugal rights, he will not lower.
|וְאִם־שְׁלָ֨שׁ־אֵ֔לֶּה לֹ֥א יַעֲשֶׂ֖ה לָ֑הּ |
וְיָצְאָ֥ה חִנָּ֖ם אֵ֥ין כָּֽסֶף
|11||But if these three things he will not do for her, |
then she will go out for nothing, without money.
|מַכֵּ֥ה אִ֛ישׁ וָמֵ֖ת מ֥וֹת יוּמָֽת||12||Who strikes a person who then dies will be put to death.||3d||3g||8|
|וַאֲשֶׁר֙ לֹ֣א צָדָ֔ה וְהָאֱלֹהִ֖ים אִנָּ֣ה לְיָד֑וֹ |
וְשַׂמְתִּ֤י לְךָ֙ מָק֔וֹם אֲשֶׁ֥ר יָנ֖וּס שָֽׁמָּה
|13||But who does not chase, and God opportunes of his hand, |
then I have set for you a place where he will withdraw.
|וְכִֽי־יָזִ֥ד אִ֛ישׁ עַל־רֵעֵ֖הוּ לְהָרְג֣וֹ בְעָרְמָ֑ה |
מֵעִ֣ם מִזְבְּחִ֔י תִּקָּחֶ֖נּוּ לָמֽוּת
|14||But if anyone acts presumptuously against his associate to slay him with craftiness, |
from my altar you will take him to die.
|וּמַכֵּ֥ה אָבִ֛יו וְאִמּ֖וֹ מ֥וֹת יוּמָֽת||15||And who strikes his father or his mother will be put to death.||3d||3g||11|
|וְגֹנֵ֨ב אִ֧ישׁ וּמְכָר֛וֹ וְנִמְצָ֥א בְיָד֖וֹ מ֥וֹת יוּמָֽת||16||And one who steals someone and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, will be put to death.||3c||3g||16|
|וּמְקַלֵּ֥ל אָבִ֛יו וְאִמּ֖וֹ מ֥וֹת יוּמָֽת||17||And who slights his father or his mother will be put to death.||3d||3g||11|
|וְכִֽי־יְרִיבֻ֣ן אֲנָשִׁ֔ים וְהִכָּה־אִישׁ֙ אֶת־רֵעֵ֔הוּ בְּאֶ֖בֶן א֣וֹ בְאֶגְרֹ֑ף |
וְלֹ֥א יָמ֖וּת וְנָפַ֥ל לְמִשְׁכָּֽב
|18||And if men dispute and a person strikes his associate with a stone or with a fist, |
and he does not die but is fallen to a litter,
|אִם־יָק֞וּם וְהִתְהַלֵּ֥ךְ בַּח֛וּץ עַל־מִשְׁעַנְתּ֖וֹ וְנִקָּ֣ה הַמַּכֶּ֑ה |
רַ֥ק שִׁבְתּ֛וֹ יִתֵּ֖ן וְרַפֹּ֥א יְרַפֵּֽא
|19||If he arises and walks outside with his staff, then the one who struck will be held innocent, |
only for his recuperation he will give, that he be fully healed.
|וְכִֽי־יַכֶּה֩ אִ֨ישׁ אֶת־עַבְדּ֜וֹ א֤וֹ אֶת־אֲמָתוֹ֙ בַּשֵּׁ֔בֶט וּמֵ֖ת תַּ֣חַת יָד֑וֹ |
|20||And if a person strikes his male slave or his maidservant with a sceptre, who then dies under his hand, |
vengeance is sure.
|אַ֥ךְ אִם־י֛וֹם א֥וֹ יוֹמַ֖יִם יַעֲמֹ֑ד |
לֹ֣א יֻקַּ֔ם כִּ֥י כַסְפּ֖וֹ הֽוּא
|21||f||But if a day or two days he is standing, |
he will not be avenged, for his money he is.
|וְכִֽי־יִנָּצ֣וּ אֲנָשִׁ֗ים וְנָ֨גְפ֜וּ אִשָּׁ֤ה הָרָה֙ וְיָצְא֣וּ יְלָדֶ֔יהָ וְלֹ֥א יִהְיֶ֖ה אָס֑וֹן |
עָנ֣וֹשׁ יֵעָנֵ֗שׁ כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֨ר יָשִׁ֤ית עָלָיו֙ בַּ֣עַל הָֽאִשָּׁ֔ה וְנָתַ֖ן בִּפְלִלִֽים
|22||And if men struggle and plague a pregnant woman and her newborn is brought forth and there is no harm, |
a fine will be amerced as the husband of the woman sets over him, and he will give through the intercessors.
|וְאִם־אָס֖וֹן יִהְיֶ֑ה |
וְנָתַתָּ֥ה נֶ֖פֶשׁ תַּ֥חַת נָֽפֶשׁ
|23||But if harm there is, |
then you will give throat in stead of throat.
|עַ֚יִן תַּ֣חַת עַ֔יִן שֵׁ֖ן תַּ֣חַת שֵׁ֑ן |
יָ֚ד תַּ֣חַת יָ֔ד רֶ֖גֶל תַּ֥חַת רָֽגֶל
|24||C||Eye in stead of eye, tooth in stead of tooth, |
hand in stead of hand, foot in stead of foot.
|כְּוִיָּה֙ תַּ֣חַת כְּוִיָּ֔ה פֶּ֖צַע תַּ֣חַת פָּ֑צַע |
חַבּוּרָ֕ה תַּ֖חַת חַבּוּרָֽה
|25||Brand in stead of brand, gash in stead of gash, |
stripe in stead of stripe.
|וְכִֽי־יַכֶּ֨ה אִ֜ישׁ אֶת־עֵ֥ין עַבְדּ֛וֹ אֽוֹ־אֶת־עֵ֥ין אֲמָת֖וֹ וְשִֽׁחֲתָ֑הּ |
לַֽחָפְשִׁ֥י יְשַׁלְּחֶ֖נּוּ תַּ֥חַת עֵינֽוֹ
|26||And if a man strikes the eye of his manservant or the eye of his maidservant and it is impaired, |
he will send him off, free in stead of his eye.
|וְאִם־שֵׁ֥ן עַבְדּ֛וֹ אֽוֹ־שֵׁ֥ן אֲמָת֖וֹ יַפִּ֑יל |
לַֽחָפְשִׁ֥י יְשַׁלְּחֶ֖נּוּ תַּ֥חַת שִׁנּֽוֹ
|27||And if a tooth of his manservant or a tooth of his maidservant he makes fall, |
he will send him off, free in stead of his tooth.
|וְכִֽי־יִגַּ֨ח שׁ֥וֹר אֶת־אִ֛ישׁ א֥וֹ אֶת־אִשָּׁ֖ה וָמֵ֑ת |
סָק֨וֹל יִסָּקֵ֜ל הַשּׁ֗וֹר וְלֹ֤א יֵאָכֵל֙ אֶת־בְּשָׂר֔וֹ וּבַ֥עַל הַשּׁ֖וֹר נָקִֽי
|28||And if a bull gores a man or a woman who then dies, |
the bull will be engulfed by stones and its flesh will not be eaten, but the owner of the bull will be held innocent.
|וְאִ֡ם שׁוֹר֩ נַגָּ֨ח ה֜וּא מִתְּמֹ֣ל שִׁלְשֹׁ֗ם וְהוּעַ֤ד בִּבְעָלָיו֙ וְלֹ֣א יִשְׁמְרֶ֔נּוּ וְהֵמִ֥ית אִ֖ישׁ א֣וֹ אִשָּׁ֑ה |
הַשּׁוֹר֙ יִסָּקֵ֔ל וְגַם־בְּעָלָ֖יו יוּמָֽת
|29||But if that bull had gored recently and its owner had known and he had not guarded it, and it had made a man or a woman die, |
the bull will be engulfed by stones and moreover its owner will be put to death.
|אִם־כֹּ֖פֶר יוּשַׁ֣ת עָלָ֑יו |
וְנָתַן֙ פִּדְיֹ֣ן נַפְשׁ֔וֹ כְּכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־יוּשַׁ֖ת עָלָֽיו
|30||If a cover-price is set over him, |
then he will give the ransom for his integrity all that is set over him.
|אוֹ־בֵ֥ן יִגָּ֖ח אוֹ־בַ֣ת יִגָּ֑ח |
כַּמִּשְׁפָּ֥ט הַזֶּ֖ה יֵעָ֥שֶׂה לּֽוֹ
|31||Whether a son it had gored or a daughter it had gored, |
according to this judgment it will be done to him.
|אִם־עֶ֛בֶד יִגַּ֥ח הַשּׁ֖וֹר א֣וֹ אָמָ֑ה |
כֶּ֣סֶף ׀ שְׁלֹשִׁ֣ים שְׁקָלִ֗ים יִתֵּן֙ לַֽאדֹנָ֔יו וְהַשּׁ֖וֹר יִסָּקֵֽל
|32||If the bull gores a manservant or a maidservant, |
thirty shekels of silver he will give to their master, and the bull will be engulfed by stones.
|וְכִֽי־יִפְתַּ֨ח אִ֜ישׁ בּ֗וֹר א֠וֹ כִּֽי־יִכְרֶ֥ה אִ֛ישׁ בֹּ֖ר וְלֹ֣א יְכַסֶּ֑נּוּ |
וְנָֽפַל־שָׁ֥מָּה שּׁ֖וֹר א֥וֹ חֲמֽוֹר
|33||And if a person will open a pit, or if a person digs a pit and does not cover it, |
and a bull or an ass falls there.
|בַּ֤עַל הַבּוֹר֙ יְשַׁלֵּ֔ם כֶּ֖סֶף יָשִׁ֣יב לִבְעָלָ֑יו |
|34||C||The owner of the pit will pay. He will restore money to its owner. |
And the one that is dead will be his.
|וְכִֽי־יִגֹּ֧ף שֽׁוֹר־אִ֛ישׁ אֶת־שׁ֥וֹר רֵעֵ֖הוּ וָמֵ֑ת |
וּמָ֨כְר֜וּ אֶת־הַשּׁ֤וֹר הַחַי֙ וְחָצ֣וּ אֶת־כַּסְפּ֔וֹ וְגַ֥ם אֶת־הַמֵּ֖ת יֶֽחֱצֽוּן
|35||And if a bull of a person will plague a bull of his associate and it dies, |
then they will sell the living bull and they will halve its money, and moreover the one that is dead they will halve.
|א֣וֹ נוֹדַ֗ע כִּ֠י שׁ֣וֹר נַגָּ֥ח הוּא֙ מִתְּמ֣וֹל שִׁלְשֹׁ֔ם וְלֹ֥א יִשְׁמְרֶ֖נּוּ בְּעָלָ֑יו |
שַׁלֵּ֨ם יְשַׁלֵּ֥ם שׁוֹר֙ תַּ֣חַת הַשּׁ֔וֹר וְהַמֵּ֖ת יִֽהְיֶה־לּֽוֹ
|36||B||Or it is known that that bull had gored recently, and its owner had not guarded it, |
he will pay bull in stead of the bull, and the one that is dead will be his.
|כִּ֤י יִגְנֹֽב־אִישׁ֙ שׁ֣וֹר אוֹ־שֶׂ֔ה וּטְבָח֖וֹ א֣וֹ מְכָר֑וֹ |
חֲמִשָּׁ֣ה בָקָ֗ר יְשַׁלֵּם֙ תַּ֣חַת הַשּׁ֔וֹר וְאַרְבַּע־צֹ֖אן תַּ֥חַת הַשֶּֽׂה
|37||C||If a person stole a bull or a lamb and slaughtered it or sold it, |
five of the herd he will pay in stead of the bull, and four of the flock in stead of the lamb.