"I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways." Psalm 119:15
Text: Exodus 21 : 33-36
The laws that God gave to Israel covered “social responsibilities”. This law ensured that people would not put the general public in danger.
“And if a man opens a pit, or if a man digs a pit, and does not
cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls in it, the owner of the pit
shall make it good; he shall give money to their owner
but the dead animal shall be his.”
1. “If a man opens a pit, or if a man digs a pit”
What were these pits? These were dug for a number of reasons. Three are noted for elucidation:-
a) To begin the digging for a well.
b) To be used as a cistern to keep water.
c) To be used as a place of burial.
2. “And does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls in it”
Social responsibility demands that the individual must cover the hole he is creating in the ground! A pit poses danger to unsuspecting animals!
3. “The owner of the pit shall make it good; he shall give money to their owner”
The irresponsible owner of the pit would have to compensate the owner of the dead animal!
4. “But the dead animal shall be his”
What good would the dead animal be? At the least, the skin of the animal could be sold to recover some money!
What if a rogue animal attacks another animal, and not a human being? What does the law say about that?
“If one man’s ox hurts another’s, so that it dies, then they
shall sell the live ox and divide the money from it;
and the dead ox they shall also divide. Or if it was known that
the ox tended to thrust in times past, and its owner has not kept it
confined, he shall surely pay ox for ox, and the dead animal
shall be his own.”
It is difficult to determine who started the fight between the animals! Both owners are held responsible. Hence, there is mention of dividing of money for the sale of the live ox between the owners!
However, if an animal is already known to be a rogue, then the lex talionis would apply. He would have “to pay ox for ox”. The laws given to Israel were truly just!