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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 22

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

The theft of an ox appears to have been regarded as a greater crime than the theft of a sheep, because it showed a stronger purpose in wickedness to take the larger and more powerful animal. It may have been on similar moral ground that the thief, when he had proved his persistency in crime by adding to his theft the slaughter, or sale, of the animal, was to restore four times its value in the case of a sheep (compare the marginal references), and five times its value in the case of an ox; but if the animal was still in his possession alive (see Exodus 22:4) he had to make only twofold restitution.

Verses 2-4

If a thief, in breaking into a dwelling in the night, was slain, the person who slew him did not incur the guilt of blood; but if the same occurred in daylight, the slayer was guilty in accordance with Exodus 21:12. The distinction may have been based on the fact that in the light of day there was a fair chance of identifying and apprehending the thief.

Verse 5

Shall put in his beast, and shall feed - Rather, shall let his beast go loose, and it shall feed.

Verse 8

It would appear that if the master of the house would clear himself of imputation, the loss of the pledged article fell upon its owner.

Verse 9

All manner of trespass - He who was accused, and he who had lost the stolen property, were both to appear before the judges Exodus 18:25-26.

Verses 10-13

This law appears to relate chiefly to herdsmen employed by the owners of cattle. When an animal was stolen Exodus 22:12, it was presumed either that the herdsman might have prevented it, or that he could find the thief and bring him to justice (see Exodus 22:4). When an animal was killed by a wild beast, the keeper had to produce the mangled carcass, not only in proof of the fact, but to show that he had, by his vigilance and courage, deprived the wild beast of its prey.

Verse 15

It came for his hire - The sum paid for hiring was regarded as covering the risk of accident.

Verses 16-17

See the marginal references.

Verse 18

Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live - See the marginal references. and Leviticus 20:27. The witch is here named to represent the class. This is the earliest denunciation of witchcraft in the law. In every form of witchcraft there is an appeal to a power not acting in subordination to the divine law. From all such notions and tendencies true worship is designed to deliver us. The practice of witchcraft was therefore an act of rebellion against Yahweh, and, as such, was a capital crime. The passages bearing on the subject in the Prophets, as well as those in the law, carry a lesson for all ages. Isaiah 8:19; Isaiah 19:3; Isaiah 44:25; Isaiah 47:12-13; Micah 5:12, etc.

Verse 20

This was probably an old formula, the sense of which, on its ethical side, is comprised in the first and second commandments.

Shall be utterly destroyed - The Hebrew word here used is חרם châram (i. e. devoted). See Leviticus 27:28.

Verse 21

A stranger - See Exodus 20:10 note.

Verse 22

Afflict - A word including all cold and contemptuous treatment. See Deuteronomy 10:18. Contrast the blessing, Deuteronomy 14:29.

Verse 25

See the notes at Leviticus 25:35-43; compare Deuteronomy 23:19.

Verses 26-27

The law regarding pledges is expanded, Deuteronomy 24:6, Deuteronomy 24:10-13.

Verse 28

The gods - Heb. אלהים 'ělôhı̂ym. See Exodus 21:6 note. Many take it as the name of God (as in Genesis 1:1), and this certainly seems best to represent the Hebrew, and to suit the context.

Curse the ruler ... - See Acts 23:5.

Verses 29-30

The offering of firstfruits appears to have been a custom of primitive antiquity and was connected with the earliest acts of sacrifice. See Genesis 4:3-4. The references to it here and in Exodus 23:19 had probably been handed down from patriarchal times. The specific law relating to the firstborn of living creatures was brought out in a strong light in connection with the deliverance from Egypt Exodus 13:2, Exodus 13:12-13; compare Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 22:27; Deuteronomy 26:2-11; Nehemiah 10:35.

The first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors - See the margin. The rendering of our King James Bible is a paraphrase.

Verse 31

The sanctification of the nation was emphatically symbolized by strictness of diet as regards both the kind of animal, and the mode of slaughtering. See Leviticus 11:0; Leviticus 17:0.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Exodus 22". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/exodus-22.html. 1870.
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