"These are the laws that you are to place before them:
"When you buy a Hebrew slave, he will serve six years. The seventh year he goes free, for nothing.
If he came in single he leaves single. If he came in married he leaves with his wife.
If the master gives him a wife and she gave him sons and daughters, the wife and children stay with the master and he leaves by himself.
But suppose the slave should say, 'I love my master and my wife and children - I don't want my freedom,'
then his master is to bring him before God and to a door or doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl, a sign that he is a slave for life.
"When a man sells his daughter to be a handmaid, she doesn't go free after six years like the men.
If she doesn't please her master, her family must buy her back; her master doesn't have the right to sell her to foreigners since he broke his word to her.
If he turns her over to his son, he has to treat her like a daughter.
If he marries another woman, she retains all her full rights to meals, clothing, and marital relations.
If he won't do any of these three things for her, she goes free, for nothing.
"If someone hits another and death results, the penalty is death.
But if there was no intent to kill - if it was an accident, an 'act of God' - I'll set aside a place to which the killer can flee for refuge.
But if the murder was premeditated, cunningly plotted, then drag the killer away, even if it's from my Altar, to be put to death.
"If someone hits father or mother, the penalty is death.
"If someone kidnaps a person, the penalty is death, regardless of whether the person has been sold or is still held in possession.
"If someone curses father or mother, the penalty is death.
"If a quarrel breaks out and one hits the other with a rock or a fist and the injured one doesn't die but is confined to bed
and then later gets better and can get about on a crutch, the one who hit him is in the clear, except to pay for the loss of time and make sure of complete recovery.
"If a slave owner hits a slave, male or female, with a stick and the slave dies on the spot, the slave must be avenged.
But if the slave survives a day or two, he's not to be avenged - the slave is the owner's property.
"When there's a fight and in the fight a pregnant woman is hit so that she miscarries but is not otherwise hurt, the one responsible has to pay whatever the husband demands in compensation.
But if there is further damage, then you must give life for life
- eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
"If a slave owner hits the eye of a slave or handmaid and ruins it, the owner must let the slave go free because of the eye.
If the owner knocks out the tooth of the male or female slave, the slave must be released and go free because of the tooth.
"If an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox must be stoned. The meat cannot be eaten but the owner of the ox is in the clear.
But if the ox has a history of goring and the owner knew it and did nothing to guard against it, then if the ox kills a man or a woman, the ox is to be stoned and the owner given the death penalty.
If a ransom is agreed upon instead of death, he must pay it in full as a redemption for his life.
If a son or daughter is gored, the same judgment holds.
If it is a slave or a handmaid the ox gores, thirty shekels of silver is to be paid to the owner and the ox stoned.
"If someone uncovers a cistern or digs a pit and leaves it open and an ox or donkey falls into it,
the owner of the pit must pay whatever the animal is worth to its owner but can keep the dead animal.
"If someone's ox injures a neighbor's ox and the ox dies, they must sell the live ox and split the price; they must also split the dead animal.
But if the ox had a history of goring and the owner knew it and did nothing to guard against it, the owner must pay an ox for an ox but can keep the dead animal.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)