18th April 2012

The Price of a Dead Slave

“But if the ox gores a slave, whether male or female, the slave’s master shall be given thirty pieces of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.”
Exodus 21:32b (Living Bible)

The Hebrew word for slave is ebed and is the word used in the Old Testament. The Greek word for slave is doulos and is the word used in the New Testament.  In the New Testament the word ‘doulos’, in most English translations has been translated “servant” almost every time, and many other major language translators have followed the lead of the English translation.  Even William Tyndale and John Wycliffe used the word servant in their translations.  Russia, Romania, Indonesia, Philippines, and some other countries use the correct word.  So bear this in mind when reading the word servant—it should usually be read as slave.

In the first and second centuries the early Christians referred to themselves as “slaves of Christ” as well as “followers of The Way”.  They submitted to their Master as He Himself submitted to His Father’s will, even to the point of death on the cross to save and redeem mankind from their sins.

In Exodus 21:32 we read that if a person’s ox gored another person’s slave, they had to compensate the owner with 30 pieces of silver.  In those days if anyone was gored by an ox it would most certainly have resulted in death.

Judas Iscariot agreed to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-15) for 30 pieces of silver, to the chief priests who wanted to kill Him.  This was the amount of money the chief priests offered, possibly as an insult, being the price for a dead slave, and they were implying Jesus was just a piece of property.  Once the Chief Priests had Jesus in their custody they met together and agreed to take Him to Pilate, the Governor of the province and have Him put to death.  When Judas realised their intentions and his part in it, he was full of remorse and went to return the money.  When they would not take it back, he threw it into the courtyard of the Temple and went and hanged himself.  The chief priests could not return this money into the treasury because it was now classified as “blood money” so they bought a field to bury foreigners in (Matthew 27:1-10).

It is important to understand that the 30 pieces of silver came from the treasury.  This treasury money was used to buy the daily, weekly, annual and Holy Day sacrifices for the shedding of their blood as a temporary sin offering, having to be repeated again and again.  The chief priests had inadvertently used this money to buy the ultimate and final sin offering.  They had “bought” their Messiah, Jesus Christ, who shed His precious blood to bring eternal redemption to all of mankind who accept His death in place of their own, as the price that has to be paid for sin.  Romans 6:23 explains this: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Loving heavenly Father we thank You for the most wonderful gift that we could ever receive, the sending of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who suffered and died for each of us that we may have the opportunity to spend eternity with You.  We also thank our Saviour for going through the horrendous suffering in our place.  As a small offering, may we offer our unworthy lives to Your service.

Study by Sandra Moore 

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