By today's standards, this reading has some rather bizarre laws concerning slaves, violence and animals. As you read them over, it is important to realize that these would not have become laws unless there was some violation concerning these situations in the first place.
Slavery was a given in that day and age. Yet, there is an attempt to give order to this practice and some rights are afforded the slaves. My guess is that over time it would have been difficult for a slave to claim any of these rights. A judge would have been set over the local community. Would this person be above any social obligations owed to the slave owner? When relationships are involved, this sometimes silences the justice owed.
As harsh as many of these laws read to us today, they were written down as improvements over the barbarism and chaos that was going on before they were enacted.
We are fortunate to be living in a society where rights are respected by the law. Even when injustice occurs, there are remedies set in place to seek recompense. If you know of someone who is dealing with injustice, take a moment and pray for that person. If you don't know of anyone, pray for a region in the world that seems lawless by comparison and pray for the people living there.
God is a respecter of persons. We made strides in this passage today and we have come a long way since. There are still injustices today and God expects us to right them.
Photo by Eric Alan Marx via Flickr.com, used by permission under the Creative Commons license.