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Exodus 21:28-36, Laws concerning Property

Wednesday, June 13

Governing Israel

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

 laws for your ox

Just in case you were having any doubts about your responsibilities when it comes to restraining your ox, God has laid out specific instructions for its care and the care of others in its path. (Snark intended.)

Remember, these living Israelites had never before had to govern themselves. Having been born and raised as slaves, their governing was done for them. Now here they were in the wilderness, learning to become a self-sufficient community. They needed to have specific guidelines to minimize the chaos that certainly ruled them for a good long while. I wonder if part of God's demand that they remain in the wilderness for 40 years before continuing on to the promised land was to give them time to learn how to govern themselves and live in peaceful community before taking on the monumental task of conquering an occupying community and settling down for good.

Are there parts of your life that seem beyond your ability to manage? Maybe it's finances, or health, or relationships. Maybe this is a good opportunity to give it to God and see if God can manage it better than we can. Maybe we can learn from God (and the people God puts in our path) so that we can learn to better manage our own lives within the confines of God's peace, justice, and love.


Narrative Lectionary Text: Exodus 21:28-36

When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall not be liable. If the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has been warned but has not restrained it, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death. If a ransom is imposed on the owner, then the owner shall pay whatever is imposed for the redemption of the victim’s life. If it gores a boy or a girl, the owner shall be dealt with according to this same rule. If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall pay to the slave owner thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned. If someone leaves a pit open, or digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit shall make restitution, giving money to its owner, but keeping the dead animal. If someone’s ox hurts the ox of another, so that it dies, then they shall sell the live ox and divide the price of it; and the dead animal they shall also divide. But if it was known that the ox was accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has not restrained it, the owner shall restore ox for ox, but keep the dead animal.