Ex 22:1-31. Laws concerning
1-4. If a man shall steal an ox, or a
sheep—The law respects the theft of cattle which constituted
the chief part of their property. The penalty for the theft of a sheep
which was slain or sold, was fourfold; for an ox fivefold, because of
its greater utility in labor; but, should the stolen animal have been
recovered alive, a double compensation was all that was
required, because it was presumable he (the thief) was not a practised
adept in dishonesty. A robber breaking into a house at midnight
might, in self-defense, be slain with impunity; but if he was slain
after sunrise, it would be considered murder, for it was not
thought likely an assault would then be made upon the lives of the
occupants. In every case where a thief could not make restitution, he
was sold as a slave for the usual term.
6. If fire break out, and catch in
thorns—This refers to the common practice in the East of
setting fire to the dry grass before the fall of the autumnal rains,
which prevents the ravages of vermin, and is considered a good
preparation of the ground for the next crop. The very parched state of
the herbage and the long droughts of summer, make the kindling of a
fire an operation often dangerous, and always requiring caution from
its liability to spread rapidly.
stacks—or as it is rendered "shocks"
(Jud 15:5; Job 5:26), means simply a bundle of loose
26, 27. If thou at all take thy neighbour's
raiment to pledge, &c.—From the nature of the case, this
is the description of a poor man. No Orientals undress, but, merely
throwing off their turbans and some of their heavy outer garments, they
sleep in the clothes which they wear during the day. The bed of the
poor is usually nothing else than a mat; and, in winter, they cover
themselves with a cloak—a practice which forms the ground or
reason of the humane and merciful law respecting the pawned coat.
28. gods—a word which is several times
in this chapter rendered "judges" or magistrates.
the ruler of thy people—and the chief
magistrate who was also the high priest, at least in the time of Paul