Where do I stand? Pertaining to God’s Civil Laws – Part 2, Neglect Crimes


Where do I stand?
Pertaining to G-d’s Civil Laws – Part 2, Neglect Crimes
By: William J Jackson

A Crime of Neglect:

The definition of neglect in Exodus 21 – 22 is one that implies “because you chose not to control a hazard it led to a disaster“. These crimes of neglect range from not controlling livestock to not controlling ones temper.  The punishment in cases of neglect were not as harsh as the punishment for intentional crimes*.  The culprit usually had to pay the worth of the item that was destroyed.  The verdict sometimes protected the offender from a back lash from the victim and victims family. Here are the eight crimes of neglect and their punishments:

1. Striking a man and killing him without intent, the perpetrator will be allowed to flee to a sanctuary for protection  (Exodus 21:13, Numbers 35:25)

2. Harming a pregnant woman in a fight will result in a fine (Exodus 21:22)

3. Injuring somebody in a fight will result in compensation (Exodus 21:18-19)

4. If violent ox is not contained and kills another the owner will compensate and receive the dead ox (Exodus 21:36)

5. If livestock is given to somebody for safekeeping and it is stolen the one guarding the property will pay the owner (Exodus 22:11)

6. If you borrow an animal and it becomes injured or dies you will pay for it, unless the owner is with you. Exodus 22:13

7. If an animal feeds somebody else’s field the owner will repay with the best of his field (Exodus 22:4)

8. In he case of an out of control fire the one who ignites it will pay for damages (Exodus 22:5)

a. It’s in the motives:

"I struggled for years to understand what motivates me to do the things I do. Only took the jury five minutes."

Crimes of neglect and *intentional crimes are somewhat the same; both cause harm and are inspired by wrongful behavior. But it is the action in each that separates them.  One is inspired by aggressive sometimes plotting behavior (intentional) the other is inspired by uncaring callousness (neglect). We see obvious examples of neglect in the above rulings; i.e. leaving a hole uncovered or losing control of a controlled fire.  We can also draw on relevant examples in our “today” world such as keeping a dog on it’s leash and not texting while driving.

b. The compensation for these crimes was fair:

The compensation for victims in crimes of neglect was not extreme, usually enough to cover the damages.  Understandably excessive recompense could have motivate the sufferer to become greedy.  We have all seen this in cases such as suing McDonald’s for $2.86 million over a hot cup of coffee (1).


c. Neglect gets in the way of our righteousness:
HaShem doesn’t want us living unconnected in our own little cocoons.  We are to be responsible to our brothers and sisters, and in this we will discover community.  We see this in our Patriarchs. Father Abraham fought for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:22-33) as did Moses fight for Israel (Exodus 32:11-14, Numbers 14:13-20, Deuteronomy 9:25-29).  The Torah declares Abraham (Genesis 15:6) as righteous and Moses along with the Israelites as being called to righteousness (Deuteronomy 18:13). The same holds true today, as they were called to be righteous, we are called to be righteous (Deuteronomy 6:25, Ezekiel 1820-24, Proverbs 12:28, 21:3)

d. Don’t neglect a mitzvah:

On the flip side of not being neglectful to prevent disaster we should not be neglectful in our mitzvot. This especially holds true if there is no personal benefit.  As stated in Exodus 23:4-5 “If you come upon your enemy’s bull or his stray donkey, you shall surely return it to him. If you see your enemy’s donkey lying under its burden would you refrain from helping him? You shall surely help along with him” this also again is stated in Deuteronomy 22:4.


e. Remember:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke  (2)

Neglect Care Switch Shows Neglecting Or Caring

To be continued;
Unintentional Crimes (Part 3)


(1) The McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case, Consumer Attorneys of California https://www.caoc.org/?pg=facts

(2) A biography of Edmund Burke (1729-1797), American History from Revolution to Reconstruction and beyond, University of Groningen http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/biographies/edmund-burke/

*Where do I stand? Pertaining to G-d’s Civil Laws – Part 1, Intentional Crimes (Posted 16 February 2015, Monday)


Where do I stand? Pertaining to God’s Civil Laws – Part 1, Intentional Crimes


Center for Tanakh Based Studies
By: William J Jackson

We all know about G-d’s Ten Commandments brought down by Moses from Mount Sinai (Exodus 20:3-14).  Some people argue their application in today’s time but those of us that walk the straight and narrow can readily admit that all 10 will never be outdated.  The next question is “what about the detailed civil laws covered right after the 10 Commandments?” (Exodus 21:12-23:19).  They appear to be the bylaws of a primitive society consisting of farmers and shepherds.  Most of us write them off as ancient rulings that governed a former Israel.  But HaShem’s laws are timeless.  If we study these ordinances we will have a better understanding of the spirit of G-d’s laws and G-d Himself.

Many of these laws appear to fall into three categories:

1. Intentional Crimes (Part 1)
2. Crimes Committed through Neglect  (Part 2)
3. Unintentional Crimes (Part 3)

1. Intentional.

A. Who gets the death Sentence:


At least nine of these laws are punishable by death  (Exodus 21:12, 14, 15-17, 23, 29-30, 22:1, 17-19).  They cover a large spectrum ranging from intentional killing to cursing your parents.  Regardless of the lists diversity they all have one thing in common – they all are intentional.

1. Premeditated murder (Exodus 21:12 & 14)

2. Cursing your parent (Exodus 21:15)

3. Attack your parent (Exodus 21:17)

4. Kidnapping (Exodus 21:16)

5. Killing a pregnant woman and/or her child in a fight (Exodus 21:23)

6. Ox kills somebody after you have been told to control it (Exodus 21:29-30) The ox’s owner would be put to death but he could pay a fine.

7. A sorceress will be put to death. (Exodus 22:17)

8. You will be destroyed for sacrificing to other gods. (Exodus 22:19)

9. You will be put to death for sleeping with animals (Exodus 22:18)

B. But why death?


Granted capitol punishment serves as a great deterrent; but there was another motive.  If we look in Exodus 22:17 it states “You shall not allow a sorceress to live.” This is restated in Leviticus 19:31 and Deuteronomy 18:10-11 where in these passages the purpose is stated.  It is to remove the negative influence from the community. For example; we don’t want ourselves or our loved ones to live in a world where calculating killers are released back into society, do we?

C. This is HaShem’s standard not ours.


Another point of order is that many of us feel that some of these offenses do not warrant the death sentence.  That’s because we are using our standard, a human standard or humanism (1). These laws actually reveal to us G-d’s standard and what He views as extreme behavior.
With some of these intentional crimes if the perpetrator is not brought to justice HaShem will intervene.  We see this with Exodus 21:15, 17.  Here, if one strikes or curses their parents they will be put to death. What if a parent wouldn’t actually turn their children into the authorities knowing that it will result in a death sentence, doesn’t Hashem  intervene here by the adding of the fifth of the Ten Commandments “Honor thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12), and as we see in the same verse “…in order that your days be lengthened.”

D. So what about thieves?


There are four of the ordinances that deal with theft (Exodus 21:37, 22:2-3, 6).  Theft is obviously an intentional crime; but thieves are not sentenced to death.  They are to pay back in a worth beyond what they stole.  This probably resulted in their indentured servitude (slavery).  It’s possible HaShem felt this group of people were more capable of being rehabilitated as opposed to those sentence to death.  There is however one exception.  If a thief breaks into your home at night you can kill him (Exodus 22:1).  But this is not a court sentencing of death, I feel this has more to do with the self preservation of the innocent verses the punishment of the guilty.

E. For those of us that have commited any of the above mentioned crimes:


Some of us have committed these intentional crimes, whether practicing the wrong religion or slandering a parent etc. etc. Granted, most of us don’t live in a country that these consequences lead to being put to death (2); but how do we make ourselves accountable to HaShem.  It’s easy, He has provided the answer in His word.  Lets refer to Ezekiel 18:31-32 here it states “Cast away from yourselves all your transgressions; whereby you have transgressed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit, and why should you die, O house of Israel! For I do not desire the death of him who dies, says the Lord God: so turn away and live!”.  If this is not convincing enough please refer to Isaiah 1;18, 43:25, Micah 7:18-19, Psalm 50:23, 51:1.

To be continued:

Stoning of Stephen 3

Neglect Crimes (Part 2)

Unintentional Crimes (Part 3)


(1) Definition humanism, Merriam-Webster, Incorporated (2015)

(2) Complete Jewish Bible Exodus 21:17 Rashi’s Commentary