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Tuesday, June 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 22

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-31

Chapter 22

If a man shall steal an ox, and kill it, [The rustlers] and sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, four sheep for a sheep ( Exodus 22:1 ).

You see in those days they were interested in taking care of the innocent party, now something's gone wrong in our judgments today. We're interested in the rights of the criminal; we're no longer interested in the rights of the person who has been victimized by the crime. You're out of luck. "But let's guard and protect the rights of this criminal." Oh, things are getting so bad that I'm afraid that vigilante groups and the KKK are going to arise. Something better happen.

Watching on the news this past week in the Los Angeles area, a woman was walking along the beach and two men started talking with her. Foolishly she went to their apartment, or they forced her, I guess into their van. According to the story, took her to their apartment, and there viciously abused her, raped her, broke her jaw. The neighbors heard the woman screaming and called the police. The police responded to the call. When they came to the door the guy wouldn't let them in, so they broke the door down, found the woman bound and gagged in a closet beaten up horribly, broken jaw and all.

But now this man is out on parole for raping women. He's been charged seven times, and is actually out on bond pending charges of rape. But now this whole case is about to be thrown out because the officers really had no right to break his door down, to find out why the woman was screaming and crying inside. They violated his rights, and so all of the evidence, the woman beaten up, her story and everything is no good, because they didn't say, "Please may I come in and look around inside?" Well they said that, but he said, "No."

Oh, I'll tell you talk about rights; what about the woman's rights? Something's gone horribly wrong in our whole system. We really shouldn't call our system of justice anymore, because really there is so little real justice. You say, "How come you're so much-" Well, we're into what's really just. And what God is talking about justice, and not the perversion that we find created by-I better not say it, we're on the radio.

Now if a thief is caught breaking up, and is smitten that he dies, there shall no blood be shed for him. But if it is daylight, and you catch him; then you should cause him to make full restitution; and if he has nothing, then he is sold for his theft. And if the theft is certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be an ox, or an ass, or a sheep; he shall restore double. If a man shall cause a field or a vineyard to be eaten, and he shall put his animals, and shall feed them in another man's field; then the best of his own field, and the best of his own vineyard, shall he make restitution ( Exodus 22:2-5 ).

In other words, if we're neighboring farmers, and you set your sheep over in my field to graze and they're eating up my field, then I get the best of yours. I can go in and just help myself to the best that you've got.

If fire breaks out, and catches in the thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, is consumed; he that kindled the fire shall make restitution. If a man shall deliver unto his neighbor money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man's house; if the thief is found, let him pay double. If the thief is not found, then let the master be brought to the judges, [The Elohim] to see whether he has put his own hand to his neighbour's goods. For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, ass, sheep, or raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challenges to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; [or the gods] and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double to his neighbor. Now if a man deliver unto his neighbour an ass, or an ox, or a sheep, or any beast, to keep it; and it dies, or is hurt, or driven away, and no man sees it: Then shall an oath of the Lord be between them both, that he has not put his hand to his neighbour's goods; and the owner of it shall accept thereof, and shall not make it good ( Exodus 22:6-11 ).

In other words, if you ask me to keep your ox, and somehow it is stolen or it strays away, then I come to you and I say, "I swear by God, I didn't touch it. I don't know what happened to it." Then you have to accept the fact of my oath that I really didn't touch it, that I didn't go ahead and butcher the thing and put it in my locker. So, "Then shall an oath of the Lord be between them both, that he did not put his hand to it."

And if it is stolen from him, then he shall make restitution to the owner thereof. If it be torn in pieces, then I bring you the torn pieces, then I will not have to make good that which was torn. Now if a man borrow out of his neighbour, and is hurt, or dies, the owner thereof being not with it, you shall surely make it good. [If I borrow your horse, and I over work the thing in the heat, then I've gotta pay you for your horse.] But if you come with it, and it dies, then I don't have to pay you anything: because I've hired you and your horse, it came for hire. Now if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall surely endow her, give her the dowry in order to be his wife. And if her father utterly refuses to give her unto him, then he shall pay the money according to the dowry of virgins. Thou shalt not [Now we get a lot of little rules here again with capital punishment, "Thou shalt not"] allow a witch to live. Bestiality is condemned with capital punishment. He that sacrifices unto any god, save to Jehovah only, shall be destroyed. Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry unto me, I will surely hear their cry ( Exodus 22:12-23 ).

Now the next couple of cases here God tells how that He will stand up in defense of the weak and of the poor. So be careful. Don't take advantage, or seek to take advantage of persons that are already disadvantaged.

The tragic thing to me is that so many of the charlatans prey upon people who are already in sad condition. They're already sort of broke. Here you know, they have ads in the paper, "Earn money in your own home." They get you signed up on, where you get all kinds of contracts, "Now all you have to do is buy this five hundred dollar machine and so forth, and you can start making all these things, and you'll have all these contracts. You'll make so much money." What you do is you end up five hundred bucks further in the hole than you were, and you're already in trouble looking for a way to get out. There are people that prey on the people that are already disadvantaged.

I got a letter this week and perhaps if you're on his mailing list, you got one too. The letter said, "Dear Charles, I've been thinking about you lately. While I was here on my knees before God, I was holding your name up before the Lord in prayer. Somehow I feel there might be something wrong. Is there any problem Charles? Write me and tell me about it. Please also enclose a gift, because I'm facing one of the greatest crises of my whole life." He went on for four pages telling me of the great crisis, and the sacrifices he's gonna have to make in order to do the great things that God has called him to do.

I wrote him back. I wrote, "Dear", and I won't tell you his name, cause you probably got a letter too, and you thought he was just writing to you personally. "Isn't that neat. I wish I could come and visit you in your home, and sit down and explain to you personally what my problems are."

I wrote back and I said, "It might be a good idea that you would start teaching the Bible on television, but maybe you ought to read it first. And read second Peter, where he talks about false prophets who through feigned words would make merchandise of you." I said, "I don't like your computer letter. I'm insulted by it. You insult my intelligence. They are just feigned words by which you're trying to get some bucks from me."

I said, "You say you're willing to make sacrifices? I was told recently by a Presbyterian pastor in Palm Springs, that you paid seven hundred", well didn't tell him how much he paid, but I know, "you paid several hundred thousand dollars for a new home in one of the exclusive areas of Palm Springs, and your son also bought a home of almost equal value in the same area. Are you willing to sacrifice that? If you are, then maybe I'll be willing to give you twenty-five dollars of my meager salary, but not so that you can live lavishly."

Oh, I was angry with that letter. I was angry not because he deceived me, because I could see right through the thing. I was angry for all these poor little widows out there on Social Security. It said, "If you don't have twenty-five dollars, why don't you see if you can get it someplace, because I'm really desperate." For all of these poor little widows that are gonna get that, "Dear Mabel, I've been thinking about you this week, and as I was in prayer, I had your name here before God. Oh Mabel, I'd love to come to your home and sit down with you right there in your house, and tell you the problems that I have." Dear little old Mabel is out borrowing twenty-five dollars so she can send it to him, because she doesn't know any better. That's the thing that upsets me.

Now when Mabel is hungry and is crying out unto God because she doesn't have any food, because she sent her food money in response to this plea, God is gonna hear Mabel's cry. This guy's in big trouble because God said He hears the cry of the oppressed, and He will respond to it. So God deals now with those that are oppressed, and ooh-this kind of stuff, oh it upsets me. I get taken off their mailing lists in a hurry, because I usually respond to them. I can't stand it.

David said, "I've never seen the righteous forsaken, or God's children begging bread" ( Psalms 37:25 ). What does that make you? They take me off their mailing lists in a hurry. "Ye shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child, if you afflict them in anywise and they cry at all unto Me, I will surely hear their cry."

And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless. And if you lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as a usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury ( Exodus 22:24-25 ).

These people that are going around and taking away people's houses, saying, "Well, we'll loan you money, sign all of these contracts", and you find that you've signed your house away and they sell it out from underneath you. Boy, are these people gonna have to answer before God. It's horrible the things that are done.

If thou at all take thy neighbor's raiment for a pledge, deliver it back to him by the time the sun goes down ( Exodus 22:26 ):

If you come to me and borrow money because you're really desperate, and I tell you, "Well what are you gonna give me for a pledge?" "I'll give you my coat." Before the sun goes down, I'll have to give you that coat back, because you see in those days they didn't have blankets; they used their clothing to wrap themselves up in their coat. That was their covering.

For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: whereby when he's trying to sleep? and if it comes to pass, he's cold, and he cries unto me, I'm gonna hear; [For God declares,] I am gracious ( Exodus 22:27 ).

The Lord is very gracious towards the poor, towards the oppressed. His ear is open to their cry. Man, if you're oppressing them, you're the one guilty of oppressing them, and they're crying to the Lord because of your oppression, look out. You're trampling on dangerous ground. I love God for His desire and concern, and care for the poor. I love God because He is gracious, and that He does take care of those who are oppressed, cast down. Oh, how I appreciate God's graciousness.

Thou shalt not revile the judges, nor curse the ruler of thy people ( Exodus 22:28 ).

I'm glad He didn't say you're gonna be put to death if you do. But "thou shalt not", nonetheless. Actually what the New Testament teaches, "Pray for those who are in authority over us"( 1 Timothy 2:1-2 ). That's really our obligation and responsibility, pray. I wouldn't want to be a judge, but neither would I want to be a president. In fact, I wouldn't want to be in legislation. I wouldn't want to have to answer for, you know, the stuff that goes on anywhere in government. I'm glad I'm a bondslave of the Lord, and not a-they used to call it what, civic servant? Boy, how we change.

Now thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shall thou give to me ( Exodus 22:29 ).

You're not to delay; you're not to put off paying your dues to God, the tithes, the firstfruits. You're not to hold back or delay on that. "Well, if we have enough then we'll give it to God." But actually you're not to delay to offer the firstfruits and the firstborn. Now, God-remember the firstborn in Egypt were killed. So from that time on God claimed the firstborn. Your firstborn son belonged to God. Now if you wanted to keep him, you had to buy him from God. You could redeem him, you could keep him, but you'd have to buy him from God. The firstborn son belongs to God.

That was true of your animals, the firstborn animal always belonged to God. If your cow got old enough to begin to have calves, the first calf belonged to God. From then on they were yours. If you wanted to keep it, actually then you'd have to buy it from God, but your-the firstborn.

Likewise shalt thou do with thy oxen, with thy sheep: seven days it will be with his dam; and on the eighth day thou shalt give it to me. [So let the mother keep it for seven days, the eighth day it belongs to God.] Ye shall be holy unto me: neither shall you eat any flesh that is torn of the beasts in the field; but cast it to the dogs ( Exodus 22:30-31 ). "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Exodus 22". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/exodus-22.html. 2014.
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