Exodus Chapter 22

Laws About Theft

    • If a man steals an ox or sheep, then kills or sells it, he must repay 5 oxen for each ox stolen and 4 sheep for each sheep stolen.

      • Guzik writes, “The Mosaic Law did not send a person to jail because of theft. Instead, the thief was required to restore what he stole, plus an additional penalty. This can be regarded as a positive approach to the punishment of criminals, putting them to productive restitution and compensating the victims of their theft. These principles are often ignored in the modern administration of justice.”

    • If a thief is caught in the act of breaking in during the night and is beaten to death, the person who killed the thief is not guilty of murder, but if he is caught during the day and killed then it is considered murder.

      • “A property owner had the right to protect his property with force – but only with reasonable force. The assumption was that if it was daylight, the property owner had the ability to defend himself short of lethal force.” (Guzik)

    • If a thief is unable to pay for everything he stole, he must be sold as a slave to repay his debt. If the property that the thief stole is found alive, then he must pay back double.

Laws About Crop Protection

    • If a man let’s his animals graze in his fields or vineyards and the animal strays into someone else’s field to graze, he must compensate the owner of the field with the best of his own grain or grapes.

      • Kaiser notes, “Thus men are held responsible, not only for the harm they do, but also for the harm they occasion, even though they may not have purposely designed the damage that ensued.”

    • If a fire gets out of control and burns stacks of cut grain or standing grain, the one who started the fire must pay for the lost crop.

Laws About Personal Property

    • If someone leaves money or goods with a neighbor for safekeeping, and they are stolen from the neighbor’s house, if the thief is caught he must pay twice the value of what was stolen. If the thief isn’t caught, the neighbor has to go before the judges to determine whether or not he stole the property.

    • If there is a dispute between two people who both claim to own a particular thing, the case must be taken before the judges. Whoever the judges find guilty must pay double the value of the item to the other person.

    • If someone leaves an animal with another person for safekeeping, but it dies, gets injured, or is taken away and no one was around to see what happened, they must both take an oath in the presence of the Lord. If it is discovered that the neighbor didn’t steal the animal, the owner must accept the verdict and no restitution is owed. However, if it is found that the animal was stolen, then they must compensate the owner. If the animal was killed by a wild animal, then the remains of the carcass must be presented as evidence and no compensation is owed.

      • “This principle is the foundation of our idea that a man is innocent until proven guilty. In this case, the man’s oath was taken as true unless proof to the contrary could be found.” (Guzik)

    • If someone borrows an animal from his neighbor and the animal dies will the owner is not present, then he must compensate the owner for the full value of the animal. However, if the owner was present, no compensation is required. If the animal was rented, no compensation is required, because the loss is covered by the rental fee.

      • “The assumption was that if the owner was with the animal or tool (or whatever) as it was used by another, the owner was responsible for the care and use of the object while in his presence. If the owner was not present, the borrower was responsible.” (Guzik)

Laws About Seduction

    • If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged to someone else and has sex with her, he must pay her bride price and marry her. If her father refuses to allow her to marry him, he must still pay her father the bride price of a virgin.

      • Clarke writes, “This was an exceedingly wise and humane law, and must have operated powerfully against seduction and fornication; because the person who might feel inclined to take the advantage of a young woman knew that he must marry her, and giver her a dowry.”

      • Guzik notes, “If the man who took advantage of the woman was considered a completely unacceptable husband by the father of the wronged woman, then that man had to pay the dowry without receiving the bride. This was a strong incentive against taking advantage of young women…This brief presentation of the law gave no penalty to the woman involved. This was because she was thought to be disadvantaged (if a man entices a virgin) and needed to be recompensed. If she was not taken advantage of, then the loss of her virginity and the diminution of her marriage prospects was thought to be punishment enough.”

Capital Offenses

    • Sorceresses must be killed.

      • A sorceress: Among the ancients, the practice of sorcery had two associations. First, contact with dark or demonic powers or persons. Second, altered states through drugs and potions. There was understood to be a connection between drug taking and occultist practices…The law shows that such communication is possible, and the penalty shows that it is dangerous.” (Guzik)

      • Cole notes, “Witchcraft is equally condemned in New Testament days (Acts 13:10; 19:19), but in spite of the practices of the church in the Middle Ages, there is no hint in the New Testament that mediums or witches should be put to death.”

    • Anyone who has sex with an animal must be killed.

      • “Bestiality was not only an obvious perversion: it figured so often in the Canaanite cycle ‘Tales of Baal’ that it probably had a religious significance for the Canaanites.” (Cole)

      • Some may find this shocking, but bestiality is currently legal in Hungary, Finland, and Romania. Up until 2015, it was also legal in Denmark. You can read about that in this article from BBC, Demark Passes Law to Ban Bestiality.

        • This article from Danish news source Ice News, Denmark to clamp down on animal-sex tourism, reveals that the Danish Ethical Council for Animals warned of regular reports of “animal brothels” where people can come to have sex with animals. The article also contains this shocking quote from a liberal political party member who actually opposed the new law, “However, Liberal Alliance members were opposed to the new law, with party member Joachim Olsen describing it in February as at best ‘superficial’ and at worst ‘political populism and moralism’.”

    • Anyone who sacrifices to other gods must be set apart for destruction.

      • Guzik makes this note regarding this law, “In ancient Israel, it was strictly prohibited to sacrifice to the pagan gods. This law was often broken, and this penalty was rarely applied. One rare example of its application was when Elijah executed the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:40

Laws Protecting the Vulnerable

    • You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember you were foreigners in Egypt.

      • Guzik makes an important point here, “God’s command that there be kindness and good treatment towards the stranger does not mean that it is not good or fitting that strangers receive permission to live among a new community. The people of Israel were strangers in the land of Egypt, but at the express invitation of Pharaoh (Genesis 47:5-6). Israel was not welcomed into Canaan, and their coming was rightly regarded as a war of conquest. Governments have the right and responsibility to control borders and immigration; yet there is no doubt of the individual’s responsibility to neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him.”

    • You must not mistreat or take advantage of any widow or fatherless child. If you do, they will cry out to Me and I will hear them. This will provoke Me to anger and I will kill you with the sword and your wives will be widows and your children fatherless.

    • If you lend money to any of My people who are poor, do not charge interest.

      • “Charging interest was the normal practice in ancient western Asia. In Babylon people were permitted to charge 20 to 50 percent interest on loans of silver bullion or food. The OT also permitted Israelites to charge interest on loans made to non-Israelites (Deuteronomy 23:20), though the rate for such loans was not specified. But when it came to dealing with fellow Israelites, the Lord’s people were to follow a different standard: interest was not to be charged on such loans. It seems God was teaching His people not to profit from the hardship of their brothers and sisters.” (HCSB commentary)

    • If you take your neighbor’s cloak as collateral for a loan, give it back to him before sunset because it may be his only covering. If he cries out to Me, I will listen because I am compassionate.

Respect for God

    • Don’t blaspheme God or curse any of your leaders.

    • Don’t hold anything back when you give Me offerings from your crops and wine. You must give Me your firstborn sons. You must also give Me your the firstborn from your livestock. Let them stay with their mothers for 7 days, then give them to Me on the 8th day.

      • Guzik writes, “This was done through redemption, the giving of money to substitute for the son (Exodus 34:19-20). Money was also substituted for the firstborn among unclean animals, but the firstborn among clean animals was sacrificed to the Lord…This law regarding the given of the firstborn to God was important because:

· Since the firstborn was always regarded as best, it was a demonstrated way to give the best to God.

· It reminded Israel that God regarded them as His firstborn, His favored people

· It reminded Israel that God spared their firstborn when He judged the firstborn of Egypt.”

    • You must be My holy people. Don’t eat the meat of a mauled animal that you find in the field- throw it to the dogs.
      • “This was a command to act differently than the animals, who freely scavenge dead carcasses. God called Israel to be holy men, not to act like scavengers who tear at carcasses as animals. This reinforces the basic idea of holiness: that we are set apart, different.” (Guzik)
      • This is an excellent quote from Clarke regarding the statement in the last verse about being God’s holy people, “In the conclusion of this chapter we see the grand reason of all the ordinances and laws which it contains. No command was issued merely from the sovereignty of God. He gave them to the people as restraints on disorderly passions, and incentives to holiness; and hence he says, Ye shall be holy men unto me.”