New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

21:6 Ex. 21:6 speaks of bringing a slave "to God", i.e. to the door post of the home, and nailing his ear to it. "God" is paralleled with the door post. R.E. Clements notes that this alludes to the ancient pagan practice whereby "a household god would have been kept by the threshold of a house to guard it" (R.E. Clements, Exodus (Cambridge: C.U.P., 1972) p. 133). Moses is attacking this idea- by saying that God, Israel's God, is the One there- and not the household gods which those around Israel believed were there.  See on Ex. 12:7.

21:30 After His resurrection, the Lord Jesus was sent to preach blessing and forgiveness to Israel (Acts 3:26). But after His resurrection, He sent His men to preach this message. His witness became expressed through, and therefore limited by, His preachers. When they wilfully misunderstood His commission as meaning preaching to Jews from all nations, rather than taking the message to the whole planet literally, His work was in that sense hindered and His intention delayed. Remember that the Rabbis taught that salvation was impossible for Gentiles: “For the heathen nations there will be no redemption”, so reads the targum on Ex. 21:30. Like us, the early Jewish converts were influenced by their backgrounds and their limited world views. Until the Lord brought experiences to bear which, when responded to, taught them what is now the obvious meaning of His words- that we each have a duty to take the good news of Him to the whole planet.

21:33 I once heard a middle class woman say to her child (in that irksome White Anglo-Saxon Protestant way): "Look at that bad man lying there in the gutter. He’s been drinking! Silly man, hey!". She didn’t want to imagine how that red, contoured face had once been a sweet baby, a mothers pride and joy; a mischievous little lad at school; a young man with an ambition to marry a young woman and have a family. Yes, on one level it was his fault he was in the gutter. But the heart that bleeds sees the tragedy, the human pain and wastage of it all. The heart that bleeds cant walk on by. It will realize our limited ability to judge the total circumstances in any human encounter, but more than that, it will be hopeful and seeking for Gods glory to be achieved in the most apparently hopeless of cases. God need not have grieved for the grief of Israel. It was their fault. But He did, and He eventually grieved for it to the extent of giving His own son to be done to death. We began by recalling the Lords story about the little boy who falls down the well. The legalistic mind would have gone straight to Ex. 21:33: the man who dug a well and didn’t cover it was responsible for any deaths arising from it. The story would imply that the father of the child was the owner of the well. The Lord doesn’t draw the lesson that Its your own fault for being disobedient to the Law. He focuses instead on the need to act urgently to save, without maxing out on the issue of whose fault it was that the tragedy had occurred.