Exodus 21:22

22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurelya but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows.

Read Exodus 21:22 Using Other Translations

If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
"When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman's husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine.
“Now suppose two men are fighting, and in the process they accidentally strike a pregnant woman so she gives birth prematurely. If no further injury results, the man who struck the woman must pay the amount of compensation the woman’s husband demands and the judges approve.

What does Exodus 21:22 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Exodus 21:22

If men strive
Quarrel and fight with one another, which is to be understood of Hebrews, as Aben Ezra observes:

and hurt a woman with child;
who being the wife of one of them, and also an Israelitish woman, interposes to part them, or help her husband; but the other, instead of striking his antagonist as he intended, gives her a blow:

so that her fruit depart from her;
or, "her children go forth" F26, out of her womb, as she may have more than one; through the fright of the quarrel, and fear of her husband being hurt, and the blow she received by interposing, might miscarry, or, falling into labour, come before her time, and bring forth her offspring sooner than expected:

and yet no mischief follow:
to her, as the Targum of Jonathan, and so Jarchi and Aben Ezra restrain it to the woman; and which mischief they interpret of death, as does also the Targum of Onkelos; but it may refer both to the woman and her offspring, and not only to the death of them, but to any hurt or damage to either of them: now though there was none of any sort,

he shall surely be punished;
that is, be fined or mulcted for striking the woman, and hastening the childbirth:

according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as
the judges determine;
the husband might propose what fine should be paid, and might ask it in court; and if the smiter agreed to it, well and good, but if he judged it an exorbitant demand, he might appeal to the judges; for the husband might not lay what fine he pleased: this, if disputed, was to be decided by the judges, and as they determined it, it was paid; of which Maimonides F1 gives this account:

``he that strikes a woman, and her fruit depart, though he did not intend it, is obliged to pay the price of the birth to the husband, and for hurt and pain to the woman; how do they estimate the price of the birth? they consider the woman how well she was before she brought forth, and how well she is after she has brought forth, and they give it to the husband; if the husband be dead, they give it to the heirs; if she is stricken after the death of her husband, they give the price of the birth to the woman.''


FOOTNOTES:

F26 (hydly wauyw) "et egressi fuerint nati ejus", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Drusius.
F1 Hilchot Chobel Umazzik, c. 4. sect. 1. 2.
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