22 “When a man steals an ox or a sheep and butchers it or sells it, he must repay five cattle for the ox or four sheep for the sheep. 2 If a thief is caught in the act of breaking in, and he is beaten to death, no one is guilty of bloodshed. 3 But if this happens after sunrise, the householder is guilty of bloodshed. A thief must make full restitution. If he is unable, he is to be sold because of his theft. 4 If what was stolen—whether ox, donkey, or sheep—is actually found alive in his possession, he must repay double.
Laws about Crop Protection
5 “When a man lets a field or vineyard be grazed in, and then allows his animals to go and graze in someone else’s field, he must repay[a] with the best of his own field or vineyard.6 “When a fire gets out of control, spreads to thornbushes, and consumes stacks of cut grain, standing grain, or a field, the one who started the fire must make full restitution for what was burned.
Laws about Personal Property
7 “When a man gives his neighbor valuables[b] or goods to keep, but they are stolen from that person’s house, the thief, if caught, must repay double. 8 If the thief is not caught, the owner of the house must present himself to the judges[c] to determine[d] whether or not he has taken his neighbor’s property. 9 In any case of wrongdoing involving an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or anything else lost, and someone claims, ‘That’s mine,’[e] the case between the two parties is to come before the judges.[f] The one the judges condemn[g] must repay double to his neighbor.10 “When a man gives his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any other animal to care for, but it dies, is injured, or is stolen, while no one is watching, 11 there must be an oath before the Lord between the two of them to determine whether or not he has taken his neighbor’s property. Its owner must accept the oath, and the other man does not have to make restitution. 12 But if, in fact, the animal was stolen from his custody, he must make restitution to its owner. 13 If it was actually torn apart by a wild animal, he is to bring it as evidence; he does not have to make restitution for the torn carcass.14 “When a man borrows an animal from his neighbor, and it is injured or dies while its owner is not there with it, the man must make full restitution. 15 If its owner is there with it, the man does not have to make restitution. If it was rented, the loss is covered by[h] its rental price.
Laws about Seduction
16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and he sleeps with her, he must certainly pay the bridal price for her to be his wife. 17 If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must pay an amount in silver equal to the bridal price for virgins.
18 “Do not allow a sorceress to live.19 “Whoever has sexual intercourse with an animal must be put to death.20 “Whoever sacrifices to any gods, except the Lord alone, is to be set apart for destruction.
Laws Protecting the Vulnerable
21 “You must not exploit a resident alien or oppress him, since you were resident aliens in the land of Egypt.22 “You must not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. 23 If you do mistreat them, they will no doubt cry to me, and I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will burn, and I will kill you with the sword; then your wives will be widows and your children fatherless.25 “If you lend silver to my people, to the poor person among you, you must not be like a creditor to him; you must not charge him interest.26 “If you ever take your neighbor’s cloak as collateral, return it to him before sunset. 27 For it is his only covering; it is the clothing for his body.[i] What will he sleep in? And if he cries out to me, I will listen because I am gracious.
Respect for God
28 “You must not blaspheme God[j] or curse a leader among your people.29 “You must not hold back offerings from your harvest or your vats. Give me the firstborn of your sons. 30 Do the same with your cattle and your flock. Let them stay with their mothers for seven days, but on the eighth day you are to give them to me.31 “Be my holy people. You must not eat the meat of a mauled animal found in the field; throw it to the dogs.
Laws about Honesty and Justice
23 “You must not spread a false report. Do not join[k] the wicked to be a malicious witness.2 “You must not follow a crowd in wrongdoing. Do not testify in a lawsuit and go along with a crowd to pervert justice. 3 Do not show favoritism to a poor person in his lawsuit.4 “If you come across your enemy’s stray ox or donkey, you must return it to him.5 “If you see the donkey of someone who hates you lying helpless under its load, and you want to refrain from helping it, you must help with it.[l]6 “You must not deny justice to a poor person among you in his lawsuit. 7 Stay far away from a false accusation. Do not kill the innocent and the just, because I will not justify the guilty. 8 You must not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and corrupts the words[m] of the righteous. 9 You must not oppress a resident alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be a resident alien because you were resident aliens in the land of Egypt.
Sabbaths and Festivals
10 “Sow your land for six years and gather its produce. 11 But during the seventh year you are to let it rest and leave it uncultivated, so that the poor among your people may eat from it and the wild animals may consume what they leave. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.12 “Do your work for six days but rest on the seventh day so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave as well as the resident alien may be refreshed.13 “Pay strict attention to everything I have said to you. You must not invoke the names of other gods; they must not be heard on your lips.[n]14 “Celebrate a festival in my honor three times a year. 15 Observe the Festival of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you are to eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib,[o] because you came out of Egypt in that month. No one is to appear before me empty-handed. 16 Also observe the Festival of Harvest[p] with the firstfruits of your produce from what you sow in the field, and observe the Festival of Ingathering[q] at the end of the year, when you gather your produce[r] from the field. 17 Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Lord God.18 “You must not offer the blood of my sacrifices with anything leavened. The fat of my festival offering must not remain until morning.19 “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your land to the house of the Lord your God.“You must not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.
Promises and Warnings
20 “I am going to send an angel before you to protect you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. 21 Be attentive to him and listen to him. Do not defy him, because he will not forgive your acts of rebellion, for my name is in him. 22 But if you will carefully obey him and do everything I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes. 23 For my angel will go before you and bring you to the land of the Amorites, Hethites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. 24 Do not bow in worship to their gods, and do not serve them. Do not imitate their practices. Instead, demolish them[s] and smash their sacred pillars to pieces. 25 Serve the Lord your God, and he[t] will bless your bread and your water. I will remove illnesses from you. 26 No woman will miscarry or be childless in your land. I will give you the full number of your days.27 “I will cause the people ahead of you to feel terror[u] and will throw into confusion all the nations you come to. I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you in retreat.[v] 28 I will send hornets[w] in front of you, and they will drive the Hivites, Canaanites, and Hethites away from you. 29 I will not drive them out ahead of you in a single year; otherwise, the land would become desolate, and wild animals would multiply against you. 30 I will drive them out little by little ahead of you until you have become numerous[x] and take possession of the land. 31 I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea,[y] and from the wilderness to the Euphrates River.[z] For I will place the inhabitants of the land under your control, and you will drive them out ahead of you. 32 You must not make a covenant with them or their gods. 33 They must not remain in your land, or else they will make you sin against me. If you serve their gods, it will be a snare for you.”
The Covenant Ceremony
24 Then he said to Moses, “Go up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of Israel’s elders, and bow in worship at a distance. 2 Moses alone is to approach the Lord, but the others are not to approach, and the people are not to go up with him.”3 Moses came and told the people all the commands of the Lord and all the ordinances. Then all the people responded with a single voice, “We will do everything that the Lord has commanded.” 4 And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early the next morning and set up an altar and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel at the base of the mountain. 5 Then he sent out young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed bulls as fellowship offerings to the Lord. 6 Moses took half the blood and set it in basins; the other half of the blood he splattered on the altar. 7 He then took the covenant scroll and read it aloud to the people. They responded, “We will do and obey all that the Lord has commanded.”8 Moses took the blood, splattered it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you concerning all these words.”9 Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of Israel’s elders, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. Beneath his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself. 11 God did not harm[aa] the Israelite nobles; they saw him, and they ate and drank.12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay there so that I may give you the stone tablets with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”13 So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua and went up the mountain of God. 14 He told the elders, “Wait here for us until we return to you. Aaron and Hur are here with you. Whoever has a dispute should go to them.” 15 When Moses went up the mountain, the cloud covered it. 16 The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day he called to Moses from the cloud. 17 The appearance of the Lord’s glory to the Israelites was like a consuming fire on the mountaintop. 18 Moses entered the cloud as he went up the mountain, and he remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
It’s easy for us to read these commands of God and think He is a tyrant throwing a wet blanket on life with all these rules.
However, read these slowly and carefully and you will see the justice, grace, kindness, and love of God in them. There is much to learn about the character of God in his laws. Take time to look at them and see His heart for you.