The Bible punishes all man-stealing with a mandatory death penalty. In Deut. 24:7, the kidnapping of covenant members is particularly forbidden, but in Exo. 21:16, all man-stealing is prohibited. It might be maintained that if we read v. 16 in context of v. 2, it is only Hebrews who are protected and avenged by this law. The text simply says "man," however, and there is no indication in the immediate context (vv. 12, 14) that "man" is restricted to covenant members. The death penalty is appropriate because kidnapping manifests a deep-rooted contempt for God and his image. Note, however, that slave traders are not sentenced to death here, but only kidnappers. This may seem strange, but heathen cultures regularly practice slavery, and the sale of such slaves to Israelites was a means of evangelizing them. The Hebrews were free to purchase slaves from traders (Lev. 25:44).