Exodus 22: Laws About Restitution

1 “If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. 2 If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, 3 but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him. He shall surely pay. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.

-This is an important passage to explain self-defense. Accidental killing is allowed. But if it is broad daylight and the killing was not necessary, even if it was done in panic, the homeowner will pay for the thief’s death. It is not automatically OK to kill in self-defense despite popular belief. But in the middle of the night, in a struggle, sometimes things can happen and its the risk the thief is taking

4 If the stolen beast is found alive in his possession, whether it is an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double.

-This ties in with verse 1. Verse 1 says the value of an ox is five times and a sheep four times in reparation to pay for the crime of theft. In verse 4, if the animal is found alive, the crime is worth double the value.

5 “If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed over, or lets his beast loose and it feeds in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best in his own field and in his own vineyard. 6 “If fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, he who started the fire shall make full restitution. 7 “If a man gives to his neighbor money or goods to keep safe, and it is stolen from the man’s house, then, if the thief is found, he shall pay double. 8 If the thief is not found, the owner of the house shall come near to God to show whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s property. 9 For every breach of trust, whether it is for an ox, for a donkey, for a sheep, for a cloak, or for any kind of lost thing, of which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before God. The one whom God condemns shall pay double to his neighbor.

-We are seeing a common theme in the laws being given. Eye for an eye but also additional restitution that has a set value that applies to all circumstances to make the law easy to understand. Found property, whether it be animals or stolen goods must be paid back double. If laws are too complicated to follow, how is a person expected to follow them? But in the bible, there are many laws but they are only impossible to follow because of our sinful nature and we are not good enough. They are not impossible to follow because they are too hard to understand or remember. There are basic general rules that apply to most circumstances that can be easily memorized. One does not need a law degree in Israel.

10 “If a man gives to his neighbor a donkey or an ox or a sheep or any beast to keep safe, and it dies or is injured or is driven away, without anyone seeing it, 11 an oath by the Lord shall be between them both to see whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s property. The owner shall accept the oath, and he shall not make restitution. 12 But if it is stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner. 13 If it is torn by beasts, let him bring it as evidence. He shall not make restitution for what has been torn. 14 “If a man borrows anything of his neighbor, and it is injured or dies, the owner not being with it, he shall make full restitution. 15 If the owner was with it, he shall not make restitution; if it was hired, it came for its hiring fee.

-All of these laws are reflected of who God is and what He wants from us. He wishes us to take full responsibility for our actions and whatever is in our care.

Laws About Social Justice

16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins.

-This sounds bad but we are talking about free will. If a woman is seduced, this does not mean deceived but rather she chooses to be with a man even if the choice was foolish. If a man seduces a woman then he is desiring to be wed with her because one cannot have sex without marriage morally. Interesting that if the father refuses to give his daughter away to a man, he must pay that man the price he would have had to pay for her as his wife. This again has to do with responsibility. As long as a man has a daughter in his household, he is responsible for her and must accept the consequences should anything happen under his watch. In this scenario, at least something good and holy can come out of it if the father allows his daughter to go with a man she has chosen to sleep with. But since the father still has authority, he can still refuse to allow this and as long as he pays the bride-price, the sin will be on the couple for choosing to be with each other unlawfully. It is fair and satisfies God’s established moral definition of marriage.

18 “You shall not permit a sorceress to live. 19 “Whoever lies with an animal shall be put to death. 20 “Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, shall be devoted to destruction.

-These three commandments clearly lay out that sorcery, pagan worship, and bestiality are all punishable by death. There is no freedom of religion in this Israel.

21 “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 22 You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. 23 If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, 24 and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.

-God protects the rights of those who do not have. Whether they be foreigners seeking a place to live, a widow, or an orphan. They are given special attention in Israel and are expected to be looked out for. God actually promised that He will kill those who mistreat them.

25 “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him.

-This applies to those “who [are] poor”. That does not mean charging interest itself is evil but this is something that must be done out of compassion for the poor.

26 If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, 27 for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.

-You should always return everything that you borrow. It is wrong to keep things for an unreasonable amount of time without returning them.

28 “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.

-In the same sentence as reviling God is cursing a ruler of your people. Take note. This is similar to Romans 13:2, “Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment”. It is actually wrong that we mock our President Obama in The United States no matter what he does even when it is immoral. This is the same concept as if we mocked or cursed our own parents. A punishment is not mentioned here but remember mocking our parents is punishable by death.

29 “You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to me. 30 You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its mother; on the eighth day you shall give it to me. 31a “You shall be consecrated to me.

-We’ve mentioned before when first talking about circumcision that it just so happens, and it is scientifically proven, that on the eighth day is when the amount of Vitamin K is such where it is the absolute safest to circumcise. Consecration of course means setting aside for God, this is not a sacrifice but a dedication.

31bTherefore you shall not eat any flesh that is torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.

-Even here, God is still valuing responsibility. If we kill an animal, then we eat it. If an animal kills an animal, then it belongs to the animals.


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