Exodus 21

Moses begins to be given a whole bunch of practical rules, with the theme of fairness with a degree of compassion, sketching out a civilised social order for the Jews. 

The first section deals with slavery among themselves, touchy subject considering they have just come out of being a slave nation. It’s accepted as inevitable, but ways out of slavery are provided. And some limits on treatment are imposed.

A basic personal injuries code is introduced, and rules about responsibility for attacks by animals.

Some of it is quite familiar, the same instincts as our laws. Jesus and Paul spoke about the laws of the land being a gift from God of order so that society does not descend into chaos. From this we get the “Judeo-Christian ethic”. 

The rules do not imagine a heaven on earth (there is still slavery) it’s a sort of imperfect bargain of God with our own sinful natures. 

It’s a mercy, a compassion, God lets us choose to live in rebellion against him quite successfully by setting up this net of fairness and decency. 

Justice is a level of meaning in our existence that animals never know between themselves.

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