34 The owner of the pit shall make it good, and give money unto the owner of them; and the dead beast shall be his.
35 And if one man’s ox hurt another’s, that he die; then they shall sell the live ox, and divide the money of it; and the dead ox also they shall divide.
36 Or if it be known that the ox hath used to push in time past, and his owner hath not kept him in; he shall surely pay ox for ox; and the dead shall be his own.
K.J.V. Bible Text
The final few verses of Exodus Chapter 21 give more of the rules the Israelite’s are to live by concerning restitution for damages that may be caused by their animals, in this case mentioning both an ox and an ass.
We learn that if a man has an open pit and another person’s animal falls into the pit and dies, he who left his pit uncovered will be required to make good for the lost animal.
We also learn that when the ox of one man hurts another’s ox the ox that lives shall be sold and the money divided among the two men and that they shall also divide the ox that is dead.
If an ox that is known to push in the past is not kept in and it kills someone else’s animal the owner of the aggressive animal is expected to pay ox for ox, but he shall be able to keep the dead ox.
Today there are many laws on the books that are more complicated and less responsive to true situations in the world than these simple but fair laws the Lord gave to Moses to govern the people of Israel. All of the laws are based upon responsibility. The responsible party makes restitution to the one who is not responsible but suffers the damage.
Adherence to such rules would insure harmony among the people and prevent the stronger from taking advantage of the weaker. The rules are so clear that all of the people could understand them. They could not be bent by a clever person to seem to mean something else.
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