This section of Exodus gives us laws for daily living. It is important to note that these laws were the beginning of the system of justice, of living with one another without another government having control for the first time in 400 years.
The Bible speaks here of the practice of slavery. Slavery was part of the cultural context of the day, and these passages are ways of addressing that painful reality. The Bible does not promote or encourage slavery, though it does not call specifically for it to be abolished. This is disheartening for me. I so wish there was a blanket policy laid out saying “No slavery, no one owns anyone else!”
The rules for female slaves are different than those for male slaves. This, in its own odd way, was seen as a way to protect women. Women could not own property, they had to be cared for and these laws kept them from being set aside when their husbands or masters grew tired of them or wanted to trade-in for a newer model.
I also find it interesting to note, the eye for an eye passage actually has to do with injury to a pregnant woman when two men are fighting. Another level of protection for women.
Personal Injury laws shift now to property dispute laws. This part of the text reminds me a bit of the controversial “Stand your Ground law” in Florida and other States. Here, however, you could not kill a thief in the daylight without being found guilty of murder. This kept you from holding a thief overnight and torturing him until morning. It also made it clear that if you could identify the thief then that is the avenue to pursue rather than killing him.
This passage tells us that Jesus’ death could not have gone unnoticed. There was darkness at mid-day, there was an earthquake, the curtain of the Holy of Holies was torn in two from the top to the bottom, and oh, yeah, dead people came out of their graves and walked around!!!
The women are present throughout Jesus’ death and watch to see where Joseph, the secret disciple, takes Jesus. They are the faithful Few who do not leave Jesus’ side. Perhaps that was because they really had nothing left to lose.
The religious leaders were more concerned about the resurrection rumors than the disciples because they had the tomb sealed and a guard set in place for three days. They knew that Jesus was more than an itinerant preacher.
My name is Cardelia Howell-Diamond and I pastor a congregation in Alabama. I'm a clergymama, with a clergymama! I have three lovely littles and an amazing clergyman husband. I love life in the church, even when I don't! I knit, crochet, read, write and sew, though none of these as often as I'd like.