The Old Testament affirms the full personhood of debt-servants (e.g., Gen. 1:26-27; Job 31:13-15; Deut. 15:1-18). If a servant immediately dies after being struck by his master, the master receives capital punishment (Exo. 21:20). The word translated "avenged," naqam, always involves the death penalty. This is reinforced by the mention of taking "life for life" (Exo. 21:23-24) a few verses later. Since the rod was not a lethal weapon, the fact that the servant survives a day or two (Exo. 20:21) shows that the master did not intend to kill the servant. The comment that "he is his money" does not mean that the servant was mere property. If this is the correct translation, it just means that the master would lose money if he mistreated his employees. Or the proper translation could be "it is his money," with "it" referring to the fee that the master had to pay the physician to treat the servant's injuries, as is required in Exo. 21:18-19, where two men fight and one is injured. The master's payment for medical care is further proof to a court that the death of the servant was not intentional.
- Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster? (2011), 135-36.
Topics: Assault/Battery - Fighting/Dueling, Murder, Murder - Accidental, Penology - Capital Punishment, Penology - Monetary Damages
Assault/Battery - Fighting/Dueling|Murder|Murder - Accidental|Penology - Capital Punishment|Penology - Monetary Damages|