Exodus 22

Protection of property, 1-15

Ex 22:1 “If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.

Ex 22:2 “If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed;

Ex 22:3 but if it happens after sunrise, he is guilty of bloodshed. “A thief must certainly make restitution, but if he has nothing, he must be sold to pay for his theft.

Ex 22:4 “If the stolen animal is found alive in his possession— whether ox or donkey or sheep—he must pay back double.

Ex 22:5 “If a man grazes his livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in another man’s field, he must make restitution from the best of his own field or vineyard.

Ex 22:6 “If a fire breaks out and spreads into thornbushes so that it burns shocks of grain or standing corn or the whole field, the one who started the fire must make restitution.

Ex 22:7 “If a man gives his neighbour silver or goods for safekeeping and they are stolen from the neighbour’s house, the thief, if he is caught, must pay back double.

Ex 22:8 But if the thief is not found, the owner of the house must appear before the judges to determine whether he has laid his hands on the other man’s property.

Ex 22:9 In all cases of illegal possession of an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any other lost property about which somebody says, ‘This is mine,’ both parties are to bring their cases before the judges. The one whom the judges declare guilty must pay back double to his neighbour.

Ex 22:10 “If a man gives a donkey, an ox, a sheep or any other animal to his neighbour for safekeeping and it dies or is injured or is taken away while no-one is looking,

Ex 22:11 the issue between them will be settled by the taking of an oath before the LORD that the neighbour did not lay hands on the other person’s property. The owner is to accept this, and no restitution is required.

Ex 22:12 But if the animal was stolen from the neighbour, he must make restitution to the owner.

Ex 22:13 If it was torn to pieces by a wild animal, he shall bring in the remains as evidence and he will not be required to pay for the torn animal.

Ex 22:14 “If a man borrows an animal from his neighbour and it is injured or dies while the owner is not present, he must make restitution.

Ex 22:15 But if the owner is with the animal, the borrower will not have to pay. If the animal was hired, the money paid for the hire covers the loss.

Social responsibility, 16-31

Ex 22:16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife.

Ex 22:17 If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.

Ex 22:18 “Do not allow a sorceress to live.

‘Practitioners of magic were outlawed on pain of death within the Israelite community (see Lev 19:31; 20:27). Each law concerning them is in apodictic or command form. This total intolerance may be due to their association with Canaanite religion or simply because their arts represented a challenge to God’s supremacy over creation.’ (IVP Background Commentary)

‘Witches and wizards were not permitted to live because they were in league with the demonic powers that operated in the godless religions of the nations around Israel. See Lev. 19:31, 20:27 and Deut. 18:9–12. Modern occult practices are an invitation for Satan to go to work and destroy lives.’ (Wiersbe)

‘Israel is forbidden to peer into the future, since God has given her other means of finding his will (Deut. 18:9–15). At a deeper level, we might say that to desire to know the future shows lack of faith, while to desire to control the future is even worse. With the decline of religion in the Western world, ‘magic’ has today taken on a new fascination as a substitute. Witchcraft is equally condemned in New Testament days (Acts 13:10; 19:19), but in spite of the practice of the church in the Middle Ages, there is no hint in the New Testament that mediums or witches should be put to death. We may assume that the Exodus ‘rule of thumb’ was designed to preserve the integrity of God’s community from such dangerous influences, alien to faith, in early days, and to show for all time God’s abhorrence of these things.’

Ex 22:19 “Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal must be put to death.

Ex 22:20 “Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed.

Ex 22:21 “Do not ill-treat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.

Ex 22:22 “Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan.

Ex 22:23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.

Ex 22:24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.

Ex 22:25 “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not be like a money-lender; charge him no interest.

Ex 22:26 If you take your neighbour’s cloak as a pledge, return it to him by sunset,

Ex 22:27 because his cloak is the only covering he has for his body. What else will he sleep in? When he cries out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.

Ex 22:28 “Do not blaspheme God or curse the ruler of your people.

Ex 22:29 “Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats. “You must give me the firstborn of your sons.

“You must give me the firstborn of your sons” – The law of the firstborn first appears in Ex 13, and is repeated here.

This is cited by John W. Loftus (God or Godless, p37) as evidence that ‘Child sacrifice was commanded of the Israelites by Yahweh, the biblical God.’

However, the law of redemption has already been promulgated in Ex 13:13 and is clarified there.

Stuart (NAC) explains: ‘The firstborn males of all humans and animals were God’s. Did he actually expect that these would be given over to him in their infancy? Yes and no. Only those animals suitable for sacrificing (lambs, goat kids, calves, etc.) were actually received at the tabernacle and slaughtered, cooked, and eaten (or dedicated entirely to God as whole burnt offerings). The firstborn male offspring of all other animals and humans were to be redeemed instead, bought back from God by the payment of a price that substituted for their lives.’

Durham (WBC) states: ‘Firstborn sons were dedicated in Israel to Yahweh both actually and vicariously, but in service, not by sacrifice.’

IVPBBCOT: ‘Israelite religion forbade human sacrifice, substituting an animal in place of the child (see Gen 22), and the service of the Levites in place of the dedicated firstborn (Num 3:12–13).’

Ex 22:30 Do the same with your cattle and your sheep. Let them stay with their mothers for seven days, but give them to me on the eighth day.

Ex 22:31 “You are to be my holy people. So do not eat the meat of an animal torn by wild beasts; throw it to the dogs.