The laws of property follow. The section really begins with verse Exodus 21:33 of the previous chapter. These laws also began by laying emphasis on the guilt of carelessness. The truth emphasized is that no man must live his life on the basis of selfishness or wholly alone and that wrong inflicted on neighbor by neighbor in the material realm becomes sin against God in the moral realm.
Specific instructions were given on the responsibility of trustees. Within clearly defined limitations, a man is to be held responsible for goods deposited with him.
A group of laws seemingly having no direct sequence or connection follows. Two of them deal with sins of unchastity. Between these occurs a blunt and stem word, "Thou shalt not suffer a sorceress to live." Humanity has ever had a craving after what sometimes is termed the occult. Invariably such traffic is injurious to life.
A law characterized by great tenderness was enunciated for the protection of the stranger, showing that God hears the cry and avenges the sorrows of any oppressed people.
While the rights of property had been carefully safeguarded in previous words, now the inherent rights of life were shown to be superior. Usury was not to be practiced, and necessary things held in pledge must be restored for necessary use.
Closely following on these laws which make serious demands on men, we have words demanding reverence for God expressed in fidelity to Him in the matter of offerings.
the Second Week after Epiphany