The Book of the Covenant (continued)
1. Four sheep] The larger compensation required in the case of the ox is probably due to the fact that it is an animal used for labour, and of proportionately higher value, therefore, than a sheep: cp. 2 Samuel 12:6.
2. Breaking up] RV 'breaking in.'
3. If the sun be risen upon him] i.e. if the housebreaking be committed in daylight. The nocturnal burglar is more dangerous and cannot be so easily detected. In a case of daylight robbery it is less necessary to resort to extreme measures for defence. In English law a similar distinction is made between housebreaking by night and by day.
5. Of the best of his own field] This is a case of wilful damage. In the next v. the damage is accidental, such as might result from the burning of weeds or thorns, in which case an exact equivalent only is required.
7. Deliver unto his neighbour] This practice was common in days when there were no banks. Otherwise, treasure might be buried in a field: cp. Matthew 13:44.
8. Unto the judges] RV 'unto God.' See on Exodus 21:6.
11. Oath of the Lord] an oath invoking Jehovah as witness. On the solemn nature of such oaths, cp. Exodus 20:7.
13. Let him bring it] i.e. what remains of it, in order to show the cause of the injury.
15. It came for his (i.e. 'its'; see on Leviticus 25:5) hire] RM 'it is reckoned in its hire.' The owner is understood to have taken the risk of injury into account in fixing the price of hire.
16-31. Miscellaneous Laws.
16, 17. Endow her] RV rightly, 'pay a dowry for her': e.g. to her father. The dowry was not the portion brought by the wife into the husband's house, but the price paid by the bridegroom to the father or brothers of the bride, by way, it would seem, of compensation to the bride's family for the loss of her services: cp. Genesis 34:12, also Genesis 29:18. Seeing that among the Hebrews, as among the Arabs at the present day, a woman who has been unchaste has almost no chance of marriage, the seducer, it is here enacted, must marry her, or, if the father object, make good the dowry. In Deuteronomy 22:29 the dowry is fixed at fifty shekels. The seduction of a betrothed damsel is punishable with death: see on Deuteronomy 22:28.
18. A witch] RV 'sorceress.' The word is the same as that in Exodus 7:11. Sorcery, or the pretended holding communication with evil spirits, is a form of idolatry or rebellion against Jehovah, and punished as such: see Exodus 22:20, and cp. Deuteronomy 18:10; Leviticus 19:26, Leviticus 19:31.
21. Cp. Leviticus 19:33, Leviticus 19:34. The Mosaic Law repeatedly emphasises the duty of kindly consideration of the weak and oppressed, the afflicted and the poor. God is the champion and the avenger of all such: cp. Psalms 146:7-9.
25. If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee] RV 'to any of my people with thee that is poor': interest is forbidden on loans to a fellow Israelite, but is expressly allowed in dealing with a foreigner: see Deuteronomy 23:19-20, and cp. Leviticus 25:35. The loans referred to here are loans without interest. The Israelites are commanded to help the poor by giving them free loans, the wisest form of charity. Commercial loans, for trading purposes, are not contemplated at all, and were in all probability unknown among the Israelites in early times and in a primitive state of society.
26. While the taking of interest is forbidden, the taking of a pledge for repayment of a loan is sanctioned, and frequent reference is made in Scripture to the practice: see e.g. Amos 2:8; Job 22:6; Job 24:9; Deuteronomy 24:6. The outer garment of the Israelite (the simlah) is a kind of cloak or plaid about 4 ft. square, which may be used as a coverlet by night. In the case of a poor man this might be the only thing he could give as a pledge, in which case he is to be allowed the use of it each night: cp. Deuteronomy 24:12-13, and for a similar humane precept, Deuteronomy 24:6 of that chapter.
28. The gods] RV 'God.' RM 'judges' is also possible: see on Exodus 21:6. But cp. St. Peter's injunction (1 Peter 2:17).
29. The first of thy ripe fruits] RV 'the abundance of thy fruits,' etc.: see on Exodus 13:1-16.
30. On the eighth day] The minimum age of a sacrificial animal is eight days. The animal must be in a fit condition, which it could hardly be during the first week: cp. Leviticus 22:27. The eighth day was also prescribed for the circumcision of children: see Genesis 17:12.
31. Holy men] See on Exodus 19:5-6, Exodus 19:10. The numerous regulations with regard to outward purity, of which one example is given here, were intended to be a symbol and a reminder of that purity of heart which God's people must exhibit. Torn of beasts] This prohibition rests on the general law that the blood, as the seat of life, belongs to God and must not be eaten. The flesh of such an animal would not be properly drained of blood: see on Exodus 21:28.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Exodus 22". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany