Wherever1 an ox kills a [Jew],2 whether an adult or a child, whether a servant or a free man,3 whether the ox is tam4 or mu'ad, [the ox] must be stoned to death.5If an ox kills a gentile, it is not executed, for this is their law.


שׁוֹר שֶׁהֵמִית אֶת הָאָדָם בְּכָל מָקוֹם בֵּין גָּדוֹל בֵּין קָטָן בֵּין עֶבֶד בֵּין בֶּן חוֹרִין אֶחָד תָּם וְאֶחָד מוּעָד הֲרֵי זֶה נִסְקָל. וְאִם הֵמִית אֶת הָעַכּוּ''ם פָּטוּר כְּדִינֵיהֶם:


[Not only] an ox, but any other animal, beast or fowl that kills a human should be stoned to death.6 What is the difference then between an ox that is tam killing a person, and that act being performed by an ox that is mu'ad? [The owner of] an ox that is tam is not liable for the atonement fine, while [the owner of] an ox that is mu'ad is liable,7 when his ox is mu'ad to kill.8


אֶחָד שׁוֹר וְאֶחָד שְׁאָר בְּהֵמָה חַיָּה וְעוֹף שֶׁהֵמִיתוּ הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ נִסְקָלִין. מַה בֵּין תָּם שֶׁהָרַג אֶת הָאָדָם לְמוּעָד שֶׁהָרַג אֶת הָאָדָם. שֶׁהַתָּם פָּטוּר מִן הַכֹּפֶר וְהַמּוּעָד חַיָּב בְּכֹפֶר וּבִלְבַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה מוּעָד לַהֲרֹג:


Since every animal, beast or fowl that kills a human being should be stoned to death, how is it possible to find an animal that is mu'ad to kill, so that its owner will be liable to pay an atonement fine?9 It killed three gentiles,10 and then it killed a Jew. For an ox that is mu'ad [to kill] a gentile, is also mu'ad for a Jew.11 Alternatively, it killed three Jews who were classified as t'refot,12 and then killed a healthy person. [Other possible situations are the following:] [On three occasions,] it killed a person and then fled, and it was captured on the fourth occasion. [We must say that it was captured, because] the owners are not obligated to pay an atonement fine unless the ox is executed.13 It mortally wounded three individuals at the same time [and they and the fourth person the ox gored all died at the time]. It killed three animals.14 In all these instances, it is deemed as mu'ad to kill, and the owner is liable to pay an atonement fine. There is also another instance. On three occasions [one of the oxen belonging to a person killed a human]; on each of these occasions, the witnesses recognized the owner, but did not recognize the ox. On the fourth occasion, they saw an ox that killed a person [and were able to recognize it afterwards]. They did not, however, know if this was the same ox that had killed [people] on the three previous occasions or not. [In this instance, the owner of the ox is liable to pay an atonement fine. The rationale is that] since the owner was warned that he had an ox in his herd that had killed [people] on three occasions, he should have guarded all his oxen [more carefully]. Since he did not, he must pay the atonement fine.


וְהוֹאִיל וְכָל בְּהֵמָה חַיָּה וְעוֹף שֶׁהָרְגוּ אֶת הָאָדָם נִסְקָלִין הֵיאַךְ יִמָּצֵא מוּעָד לַהֲרֹג עַד שֶׁיְּשַׁלְּמוּ בְּעָלָיו אֶת הַכֹּפֶר. כְּגוֹן שֶׁהָרַג שְׁלֹשָׁה עוֹבְדֵי כּוֹכָבִים וְאַחַר כָּךְ הָרַג יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁהַמּוּעָד לְעַכּוּ''ם הֲרֵי זֶה מוּעָד לְיִשְׂרָאֵל. אוֹ שֶׁהָרַג שְׁלֹשָׁה יִשְׂרָאֵל טְרֵפָה וְאַחַר כָּךְ הָרַג שָׁלֵם. אוֹ שֶׁהָרַג וּבָרַח וּבָרְבִיעִי נִתְפַּס. שֶׁאֵין הַבְּעָלִים חַיָּבִין בְּכֹפֶר עַד שֶׁיִּסָּקֵל הַשּׁוֹר. וְכֵן אִם סִכֵּן שְׁלֹשָׁה בְּנֵי אָדָם כְּאֶחָד אוֹ שֶׁהָרַג שָׁלֹשׁ בְּהֵמוֹת הֲרֵי זֶה מוּעָד לַהֲרִיגָה וּבְעָלִים מְשַׁלְּמִין אֶת הַכֹּפֶר. וְכֵן אִם הִכִּירוּ עֵדִים אֶת בַּעַל הַשּׁוֹר וְלֹא הִכִּירוּ אֶת הַשּׁוֹר בְּפַעַם רִאשׁוֹנָה וּשְׁנִיָּה וּשְׁלִישִׁית וּבָרְבִיעִית רָאוּ שׁוֹרוֹ שֶׁהָרַג וְלֹא הָיוּ יוֹדְעִין אִם זֶה הוּא הַשּׁוֹר שֶׁהָרַג בְּשָׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים הָרִאשׁוֹנוֹת אוֹ אַחֵר הָיָה. הוֹאִיל וְהוּעֲדוּ הַבְּעָלִים שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהֶם בִּבְקָרָם שׁוֹר שֶׁהָרַג שָׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים הָיָה לָהֶם לִשְׁמֹר כָּל בְּהֶמְתָּם וּמֵאַחַר שֶׁלֹּא שָׁמְרוּ מְשַׁלְּמִין אֶת הַכֹּפֶר:


The Oral Tradition interprets the Torah's statement [Exodus 21:29]: "And its owner shall also be put to death," as implying death by the hand of God [and not execution by a mortal court]. If [the owner] pays an atonement fine for the person killed, he is pardoned. Although the obligation of the atonement fine is for [the owner's spiritual] pardon,15 the property of a person who is obligated to pay an atonement fine is forcefully expropriated, [even] against his will.16


זֶה שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה (שמות כא כט) "וְגַם בְּעָלָיו יוּמָת" מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ שֶׁחִיּוּב מִיתָה זוֹ בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם וְאִם נָתַן כֹּפֶר הַנֶּהֱרָג מִתְכַּפֵּר לוֹ. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַכֹּפֶר כַּפָּרָה מְמַשְׁכְּנִין מִי שֶׁנִּתְחַיֵּב בְּכֹפֶר בְּעַל כָּרְחוֹ:


When an ox belonging to two partners kills [a man], each of [the partners] must pay an entire atonement fine. For each requires a full measure of atonement.17


שׁוֹר שֶׁל שְׁנֵי שֻׁתָּפִין שֶׁהָרַג. כָּל אֶחָד מֵהֶם מְשַׁלֵּם כֹּפֶר שָׁלֵם שֶׁהֲרֵי כָּל אֶחָד מֵהֶן צָרִיךְ כַּפָּרָה גְּמוּרָה:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.


If an ox is owned by a person, the adjudication of the ox must be concluded in its owner's presence. If the ox does not have an owner - e.g., a wild ox, an ox that was consecrated, an ox belonging to a convert who died without leaving any heirs - it should be executed [if it kills a human], and its judgment is concluded despite the fact that it lacks an owner. Similarly, an ox belonging to a woman, a minor,18 or a guardian19 is stoned [if it kills a human]. The guardians are not required to pay the atonement fine,20 for that fine is [as implied by its name] for the purpose of atonement. Minors, deaf mutes and mental incompetents are not men of responsibility who require atonement.21


אֵין גּוֹמְרִין דִּינוֹ שֶׁל שׁוֹר אֶלָּא בִּפְנֵי בְּעָלָיו אִם הָיוּ לוֹ בְּעָלִים. אֲבָל אִם לֹא הָיוּ לוֹ בְּעָלִים כְּגוֹן שׁוֹר הַמִּדְבָּר וְשׁוֹר שֶׁל הֶקְדֵּשׁ וְשׁוֹר שֶׁל גֵּר שֶׁמֵּת וְאֵין לוֹ יוֹרְשִׁין אִם הֵמִית הֲרֵי זֶה נִסְקָל וְגוֹמְרִין דִּינוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין לוֹ בְּעָלִים. וְכֵן שׁוֹר הָאִשָּׁה וְשׁוֹר הַיְתוֹמִים וְשׁוֹר הָאַפּוֹטְרוֹפְּסִים שֶׁהֵמִיתוּ נִסְקָלִין. וְאֵין הָאַפּוֹטְרוֹפְּסִים מְשַׁלְּמִין אֶת הַכֹּפֶר שֶׁהַכֹּפֶר כַּפָּרָה הוּא וְאֵין הַקְּטַנִּים וְהַחֵרְשִׁים וְהַשּׁוֹטִים בְּנֵי חִיּוּב כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ צְרִיכִין כַּפָּרָה:


When an ox that is a t'refah or an ox belonging to a person who is t'refah kills a human, the ox is not executed.22 [This is derived from Exodus 21:29:] "And its owner shall also be put to death." [This is interpreted to mean] that a parallel is established between the owner and the ox being put to death. Since the owner is [already] considered as if he is dead and need not be put to death [by God], so too, the ox is not held liable.


שׁוֹר שֶׁהוּא טְרֵפָה שֶׁהָרַג אֶת הַנֶּפֶשׁ אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה הַשּׁוֹר שֶׁל אָדָם טְרֵפָה אֵינוֹ נִסְקָל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא כט) "וְגַם בְּעָלָיו יוּמָת" כְּמִיתַת הַבְּעָלִים כָּךְ מִיתַת הַשּׁוֹר. וְכֵיוָן שֶׁבְּעָלָיו כְּמֵת הֵם חֲשׁוּבִים וְאֵינָן צְרִיכִין מִיתָה הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר:


When a person sets a dog upon a colleague, and [the dog] kills him, the dog is not stoned to death. The same law applies if he sets another animal or beast upon him.23 If, however, he sets a snake upon him, even if he actually places the snake's mouth on the other person, the snake is stoned to death. [The rationale is that] the snake releases the lethal venom on its own volition. For this reason, the person who sets the snake upon a colleague is not liable to be executed by [an earthly] court.


הַמְשַׁסֶּה כֶּלֶב בַּחֲבֵרוֹ וַהֲרָגוֹ אֵין הַכֶּלֶב נִסְקָל. וְכֵן אִם גֵּרָה בּוֹ בְּהֵמָה אוֹ חַיָּה וַהֲרָגוּהוּ. אֲבָל אִם שִׁסָּה בּוֹ נָחָשׁ וַאֲפִלּוּ הִשִּׁיכוֹ בּוֹ וַהֲרָגוֹ הַנָּחָשׁ נִסְקָל. שֶׁאֶרֶס הַנָּחָשׁ שֶׁמֵּמִית מֵעַצְמוֹ מְקִיאוֹ לְפִיכָךְ זֶה הָאָדָם שֶׁהִשִּׁיךְ בּוֹ נָחָשׁ פָּטוּר מִמִּיתַת בֵּית דִּין:


An animal that kills [a person] is not stoned to death unless it had the intent to kill a person for whom it would be executed.24 If, however, an ox intended to kill an animal and instead killed a human being, it intended to kill a gentile and instead killed a Jew, or it intended to gore a stillborn child and instead killed an ordinary child, [the ox] is not executed.25 If [the ox] was mu'ad, the owners are liable to pay the atonement fine or the fine paid for killing a servant. [This applies] even [if the ox] killed unintentionally. [The owners are held responsible] because [the ox] is mu'ad [to kill].


אֵין הַבְּהֵמָה נִסְקֶלֶת אִם הֵמִיתָה עַד שֶׁנִּתְכַּוְּנָה לְהַזִּיק לְמִי שֶׁהִיא חַיֶּבֶת עָלָיו סְקִילָה. אֲבָל שׁוֹר שֶׁהָיָה מִתְכַּוֵּן לַהֲרֹג אֶת הַבְּהֵמָה וְהָרַג אֶת הָאָדָם. נִתְכַּוִּן לְעַכּוּ''ם וְהָרַג לְיִשְׂרָאֵל. נִתְכַּוֵּן לִנְפָלִים וְהָרַג בֶּן קַיָּמָא. פָּטוּר מִן הַמִּיתָה. וְאִם הָיָה מוּעָד הַבְּעָלִים חַיָּבִין בְּכֹפֶר. אוֹ בִּקְנָס אִם הֵמִית עֶבֶד. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָרַג בְּלֹא כַּוָּנָה הוֹאִיל וְהוּא מוּעָד לָזֶה:


[The owner of an ox is liable to pay an atonement fine in the following instances. An ox] was mu'ad to leap on people in pits. It saw a vegetable in a pit, leapt into the pit, [and fell] on a person there and killed him. It was mu'ad to rub itself against walls and knock them over onto people, and it rubbed itself against a wall for its own benefit, and caused the wall to fall on a person and kill him. [In both these instances,] the ox is not liable to be executed, because it did not intend to kill. The owners are, nevertheless, liable for the atonement fine, because the ox is mu'ad to leap into pits on people or to knock walls over onto them.26 How can we know whether any animal is rubbing itself against a wall for its own benefit? If it continues rubbing itself after it knocks the wall down and kills.


הָיָה מוּעָד לִפּל עַל בְּנֵי הָאָדָם בְּבוֹרוֹת וְרָאָה יָרָק בַּבּוֹר וְנָפַל לַבּוֹר בִּשְׁבִיל הַיָּרָק וְהָיָה שָׁם אָדָם וּמֵת. אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה מוּעָד לְהִתְחַכֵּךְ בַּכְּתָלִים וּלְהַפִּיל עַל בְּנֵי אָדָם וְנִתְחַכֵּךְ בַּכֹּתֶל לַהֲנָאָתוֹ וְנָפַל עַל אָדָם וּמֵת מֵחֲמַת חִכּוּכוֹ. הַשּׁוֹר פָּטוּר מִמִּיתָה לְפִי שֶׁלֹּא נִתְכַּוֵּן לְהָמִית וְהַבְּעָלִים חַיָּבִין בְּכֹפֶר שֶׁהֲרֵי זֶה מוּעָד לִפּל בְּבוֹרוֹת עַל בְּנֵי אָדָם אוֹ לְהַפִּיל עֲלֵיהֶם הַכְּתָלִים. וְהֵיאַךְ יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁנִּתְחַכֵּךְ לַהֲנָאָתוֹ. כְּשֶׁנִּתְחַכֵּךְ לְאַחַר שֶׁהִפִּיל וְהֵמִית:


The owners are not liable to pay the atonement fine unless their animal kills [the person] outside their property. If, however, [their animal] kills [a person] in a domain belonging to [the owner of the animal], the owner is not liable for the atonement fine,27 although the animal is stoned to death. What is implied? If a person enters a courtyard belonging to a person without his permission28 - even if he enters to demand payment for wages or a debt [owed to him]29 - and an ox belonging to the owner of the courtyard gores him and kills him, the ox should be stoned to death. The owner is, however, free from the atonement fine, because [the deceased] did not have permission to enter his property without his consent.


אֵין הַבְּעָלִים מְשַׁלְּמִין אֶת הַכֹּפֶר עַד שֶׁתָּמִית בְּהֶמְתָּן חוּץ מֵרְשׁוּתָן. אֲבָל אִם הֵמִית בִּרְשׁוּת הַמַּזִּיק אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא בִּסְקִילָה הַבְּעָלִים פְּטוּרִין מִן הַכֹּפֶר. כֵּיצַד. הַנִּכְנָס לַחֲצַר בַּעַל הַבַּיִת שֶׁלֹּא בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ וַאֲפִלּוּ נִכְנַס לִתְבֹּעַ שְׂכָרוֹ אוֹ חוֹבוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ וּנְגָחוֹ שׁוֹרוֹ שֶׁל בַּעַל הַבַּיִת וּמֵת. הַשּׁוֹר בִּסְקִילָה וְהַבְּעָלִים פְּטוּרִין מִן הַכֹּפֶר. שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵין לוֹ רְשׁוּת לִכָּנֵס לִרְשׁוּתוֹ שֶׁל זֶה שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעְתּוֹ:


[The owner is not required to pay an atonement fine in the following situation. A person] stood at the entrance and called to the owner, and the latter said: "Yes." [The guest] entered and he was gored by an ox belonging to the owner. The owner is not liable. For "yes" does [not necessarily] mean [more than] "Stand where you are, until I [come] to speak to you."


עָמַד בַּפֶּתַח וְקָרָא לְבַעַל הַבַּיִת וְאָמַר לוֹ הֵן. וְנִכְנַס וּנְגָחוֹ שׁוֹרוֹ שֶׁל בַּעַל הַבַּיִת הֲרֵי הַבְּעָלִים פְּטוּרִין. שֶׁאֵין מַשְׁמַע הֵן אֶלָּא עֲמֹד בִּמְקוֹמְךָ עַד שֶׁאֲדַבֵּר עִמְּךָ:


When an animal enters a courtyard belonging to another person and kills a child by treading on it as it proceeds, the owner [of the animal] must pay an atonement fine. [The rationale is that an animal is considered to be] mu'ad to tread on things as it proceeds, and in the domain of another person [the owner of animal] is liable for the damages it causes by eating or treading, as explained.30 Thus, one can conclude: When an animal that is mu'ad kills intentionally, it should be stoned to death, and the owners must pay the atonement fine. If it killed unintentionally, it is not liable to be executed, but the owners must pay the atonement fine. When [an animal that is] tam kills unintentionally, it is not liable to be executed, nor must the owners pay the atonement fine. If it intended to kill, it should be stoned to death. The owners, however, are not liable for the atonement fine or for the fine paid for killing a servant.


בְּהֵמָה שֶׁנִּכְנְסָה לַחֲצַר הַנִּזָּק וְדָרְסָה עַל גַּבֵּי תִּינוֹק דֶּרֶךְ הִלּוּכָהּ וַהֲרָגַתְהוּ הַבְּעָלִים מְשַׁלְּמִין אֶת הַכֹּפֶר שֶׁהָרֶגֶל מוּעֶדֶת לְהַזִּיק בְּדֶרֶךְ הִלּוּכָהּ וּבִרְשׁוּת הַנִּזָּק חַיָּב אַף עַל הַשֵּׁן וְעַל הָרֶגֶל כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. נִמְצֵאתָ לָמֵד שֶׁהַמּוּעָד שֶׁהֵמִית בְּכַוָּנָה נִסְקָל וְהַבְּעָלִים חַיָּבִין בְּכֹפֶר וְאִם הֵמִית שֶׁלֹּא בְּכַוָּנָה פָּטוּר מִן הַמִּיתָה וְהַבְּעָלִים חַיָּבִין בְּכֹפֶר. וְתָם שֶׁהֵמִית שֶׁלֹּא בְּכַוָּנָה פָּטוּר מִן הַמִּיתָה וּמִן הַכֹּפֶר. וְאִם נִתְכַּוֵּן לְהָמִית נִסְקָל וְהַבְּעָלִים פְּטוּרִין מִן הַכֹּפֶר וְכֵן מִקְּנָס שֶׁל עֶבֶד:


It appears to me31 that even though [the owner of an ox that is] tam that killed a servant or a maid-servant intentionally is not liable for the fine of 30 selaim mentioned in the Torah,32 if it killed [a servant or maid-servant] unintentionally,33 [the owner] must pay half the value of the servant or the maid-servant from the body of the ox, as if [the ox] had killed another ox or donkey belonging to his colleague.34


נִרְאֶה לִי שֶׁאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַתָּם שֶׁהֵמִית בְּכַוָּנָה עֶבֶד אוֹ שִׁפְחָה פָּטוּר מִן הַקְּנָס שֶׁהוּא שְׁלֹשִׁים סֶלַע הַכָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה. אִם הֵמִית שֶׁלֹּא בְּכַוָּנָה מְשַׁלֵּם חֲצִי דְּמֵי הָעֶבֶד אוֹ חֲצִי דְּמֵי הַשִּׁפְחָה מִגּוּפוֹ כְּאִלּוּ הֵמִית שׁוֹר חֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ חֲמוֹרוֹ: