Bible Commentaries

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

Exodus 22

Verses 1-15

Regarding Property

v. 1. If a man shall steal an ox or a sheep, and kill it or sell it, he shall restore five oxen, five head of cattle, for an ox and four sheep for a sheep. The Lord wanted complete restoration to be made, the indemnity being in proportion to the transgression.

v. 2. If a thief be found breaking up, breaking through a wall, breaking into a house, Mat_6:20, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him, his death cannot demand the vengeance which a murder would; for the owner of the house would have to guard against every contingency, including murder.

v. 3. If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him, to kill a thief in broad daylight was to be considered murder. For he, the thief apprehended in the day, should make full restitution, most certainly pay back all that he stole. If he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft, for the value of the goods stolen by him.

v. 4. If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox or ass or sheep, he shall restore double, the four and fivefold restitution being required only in case the stolen animals had already been slaughtered or sold. Theft being a severe offense against one's neighbor, severe measures were taken at once to keep men from this transgression.

v. 5. If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, if a person injures his neighbor's property by letting his cattle run loose, and shall feed in another man's field, of the best of his own field and of the best of his own vineyard shall he make restitution; for carelessness of this kind is inexcusable, being almost equivalent to willful damage.

v. 6. If fire break out, said of any small fire which gets beyond the control of him that started it, and catch in thorns, in the thornhedge at the edge of the field, which it was intended to destroy, so that the stacks of corn, sheaves of grain stacked after harvest, or the standing corn or the field, no matter what it contains, be consumed therewith, he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution for his act of foolish carelessness.

v. 7. If a man shall deliver unto his neighbor money or stuff to keep, entrusts any valuables to him for safe-keeping, and It be stolen out of the man's house; If the thief be found, let him pay double.

v. 8. If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges, to the proper officials of the government, to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbor's goods. The object of the investigation was to give the lord of the house an opportunity to clear himself of suspicion, as though he had been guilty of appropriating his neighbor's property, which he was to guard as he did his own.

v. 9. For all manner of trespass, in the case of any accusation alleging a crime, whether It be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges, before the officials having the jurisdiction of the case; and whom the judges shall condemn, declare to be in the wrong, he shall pay double unto his neighbor. This is the general rule for all cases of contested property.

v. 10. If a man deliver unto his neighbor an ass or an ox or a sheep or any beast to keep, and it die or be hurt or driven away, no man seeing it, the fact that no witnesses were near making the matter very complicated,

v. 11. then shall an oath of the Lord be between them both, the one suspected being given an opportunity to declare his innocence under oath, that he hath not put his hand unto his neighbor's goods; and the owner of it shall accept thereof, and he, the man to whom the animals had been entrusted, shall not make it good.

v. 12. And If It be stolen from him, he shall make restitution unto the owner thereof. In the case of animals, unlike that of money and valuables, the guardian of the property was also expected to act as watchman, his failure in this respect costing him dearly.

v. 13. If It be torn In pieces, then let him bring it for witness, and he shall not make good that which was torn, for the fact that he produced the torn animal proved that he had watched and even driven off the attacking predatory beast.

v. 14. And if a man borrow aught of his neighbor, some work animal, which he then uses, and it be hurt or die, the owner thereof being not with it, he shall surely make it good; for in this case neglect might be assumed.

v. 15. But if the owner thereof be with it, be present when some accident befalls his animal, he, the borrower, shall not make it good; if it be an hired thing, it came for his hire, he paid for the use of the animal and cannot be held responsible for the accident. Fairness and justice was to govern all the relations of the children of Israel toward one another.

Verses 16-31

Regarding Various Social Relations

v. 16. And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, thus seducing her and robbing her of her honor and virginity, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. The crime could be expiated at least in a measure by his marrying the girl and by giving dowry money to her father.

v. 17. If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay, weigh out, money according to the dowry of virgins. This procedure, in a way, reinstated the girl as a virgin, and she was afterwards not barred from marrying. The transgressor thus made good his crime as far as possible and showed his repentance. In the case of a betrothed virgin the punishment inflicted upon the seducer was death, Deu_22:23-24.

v. 18. Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live; every one, man or woman, actually guilty of witchcraft, was to be put to death. The sorceress is merely named because women were more addicted to this practice than men.

v. 19. Whosoever lieth with a beast, in sexual intercourse, shall surely be put to death. Cf Lev_18:23; Lev_20:15; Deu_27:21. This vice was placed on the same level with pederasty or sodomy, Lev_20:13.

v. 20. He that sacriftceth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed. Since the government of the children of Israel was a theocracy, under the direct rule of Jehovah, the idolater forfeited his life. At the present time it would be wrong for a government to punish sorcery, idolatry, heresy, with death or in any form whatsoever, unless social damage has been done; for the state is concerned with outward matters only. But so far as the Christian congregations are concerned, they cannot tolerate offenders of this kind in their midst, for the trespasses named are deadly sins, which absolutely drive out faith.

v. 21. Thou shalt neither vex a stranger nor oppress him, in no manner make life miserable for him, either by open persecution or by constant nagging; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt, and the memory of those years of oppression was intended to foster in their hearts true kindness. The word "stranger" apparently applies to non-Canaanitish strangers only; for the Canaanites were to be extirpated.

v. 22. Ye shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. To humble widows and orphans by acts of unkindness is to challenge the Lord, who is the special Protector of the desolate.

v. 23. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto Me, I will surely hear their cry;

v. 24. and My wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows and your children fatherless. In the wars which the Lord would bring upon them as an act of retaliation and revenge, their own loved ones, by their death, would be left as helpless as those whom the Israelites oppressed and humbled in the first place.

v. 25. If thou lend money to any of My people that is poor by thee, to any members of the Jewish nation that were in such need as to be compelled to borrow for the necessaries of life, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury, take interest in such a case.

v. 26. If thou at all take thy neighbor's raiment to pledge, take his garment as security, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down;

v. 27. for that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin, it serves to cover and protect his body against the inclemencies of the weather; wherein shall he sleep? The upper garment of the Oriental served him as a cover in which he wrapped himself at night. And it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto Me, that I will hear; for I am gracious, His divine favor rests upon such as are in need. We Christians also know that it pleases the Lord if we have compassion upon the widow and the fatherless, and that any oppression of the poor and needy will bring upon us His punishment.

v. 28. Thou shalt not revile the gods, that is, Elohim, the one true God, they shall not blaspheme, nor curse the ruler of thy people, who is a representative of the Lord on earth.

v. 29. Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits and of thy liquors, literally, "of thy fullness or plenty and of thy drop [of oil and wine] thou shalt not delay"; for. the Lord wanted the first-fruits of the field, of the vineyard, and of the olive-orchard. The first-born of thy sons shalt thou give unto Me. Cf Exo_13:2-12.

v. 30. Likewise shalt thou do with thine oxen and with thy sheep: seven days it shall be with his dam; on the eighth day thou shalt give it Me as a sacrifice.

v. 31. And ye shall be holy men unto Me, set apart as a peculiar nation; neither shall ye eat any flesh that is torn of beasts in the field; ye shall cast it to the dogs. As a people that was consecrated to the Lord in the first-born they should abstain from the eating of unclean meat, to which that belonged which had been tom by beasts of prey. Christians will also abstain from all practices which will defile the heart and the mind and be glad to offer to the Lord of their income from all sources.

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Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Exodus 22". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/exodus-22.html. 1921-23.