No Mischief Follow, By Mike Riley


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A querist asks, “Would you comment on Exodus 21:22? In the context it is used, what is meant by ‘no mischief follow’?”

Exodus 21:22-25 is speaking about the crime of striking an expectant mother (which causes the child to be born prematurely and dies). To every Jewish family, posterity was a very important issue, because the Messiah might spring from that family. Therefore, any injury done to a pregnant woman which would result in the death of her child, was considered a very heavy offense.

As this crime would greatly affect the husband of the woman, the degree of punishment was left to his discretion. The phrase, “if no mischief follow,” simply means if the baby was not harmed as a result of the injury to the woman, there was still compensation given for the injury which was determined by a civil magistrate or judge (Exodus 21:22).

If the child was killed as a result of striking the mother, or as a result the mother lost her life, then the punishment was as in other cases of murder, death (Exodus 21:23).


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