Exodus 21:16

16 “Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession.

Read Exodus 21:16 Using Other Translations

And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.
"Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.
“Kidnappers must be put to death, whether they are caught in possession of their victims or have already sold them as slaves.

What does Exodus 21:16 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Exodus 21:16

And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him
One of the children of Israel, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, and so the Septuagint version: but though this law was given to the Israelites primarily, yet was made for men stealers in general, as the apostle observes, who plainly has reference to it, ( 1 Timothy 1:9 1 Timothy 1:10 ) :

or if he be found in his hand;
before the selling of him, as Jarchi notes, since he stole him in order to sell him, he was guilty of death, as follows:

he shall surely be put to death;
with strangling, as the same Jewish writer remarks, as on the preceding verse; and Jarchi sets it down as a rule, that all death in the law, simply expressed, is strangling.

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