Genesis 9:5

Hebrew Bible

3 You may eat any moving thing that lives. As I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. 4 “But you must not eat meat with its life (that is, its blood) in it. 5 For your lifeblood I will surely exact punishment, from every living creature I will exact punishment. From each person I will exact punishment for the life of the individual since the man was his relative. 6 “Whoever sheds human blood, by other humans must his blood be shed; for in God’s image God has made humankind. 7 “But as for you, be fruitful and multiply; increase abundantly on the earth and multiply on it.”

Exodus 21:28

Hebrew Bible

26 “If a man strikes the eye of his male servant or his female servant so that he destroys it, he will let the servant go free as compensation for the eye. 27 If he knocks out the tooth of his male servant or his female servant, he will let the servant go free as compensation for the tooth. 28If an ox gores a man or a woman so that either dies, then the ox must surely be stoned and its flesh must not be eaten, but the owner of the ox will be acquitted. 29 But if the ox had the habit of goring, and its owner was warned but he did not take the necessary precautions, and then it killed a man or a woman, the ox must be stoned and the man must be put to death. 30 If a ransom is set for him, then he must pay the redemption for his life according to whatever amount was set for him.

 Notes and References

"... Another aspect of the Torah’s exceptional concern for the sacredness of human life is demonstrated in the case of the goring ox.64 This example is especially important because it occurs in almost identical form in the laws of Eshnunna, in those of Hammurabi (250–252), and in Exodus 21:28–32. All three sources treat of the same problem. The owner of an ox that is known to be a habitual gorer has ignored due forewarning of the fact, and has not taken proper precautions; the ox gores a man to death. The Mesopotamian laws solely concern themselves with the economic side of the affair, namely, the amount of compensation to be paid to the family of the victim. There is no sensibility of the loss of a life. Nothing at all is stated about the fate of the ox and the status of its negligently culpable owner. The Book of the Covenant, however, operates in accordance with the rule laid down in Genesis 9:5 ... The sanctity of human life is such as to make bloodshed the consummate offense, one viewed with unspeakable horror. Neither man nor beast that destroys a life can remain thereafter untainted ..."

Sarna, Nahum M. Exploring Exodus: The Origins of Biblical Israel (p. 122) Schocken Books, 1996

 User Comments

Do you have questions or comments about these texts? Please submit them here.