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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.
The theft of an ox appears to have been regarded as a greater crime than the theft of a sheep, because it showed a stronger purpose in wickedness to take the larger and more powerful animal. It may have been on similar moral ground that the thief, when he had proved his persistency in crime by adding to his theft the slaughter, or sale, of the animal, was to restore four times its value in the case of a sheep (compare the marginal references), and five times its value in the case of an ox; but if the animal was still in his possession alive (see Exodus 22:4) he had to make only twofold restitution.
2If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him.
If a thief, in breaking into a dwelling in the night, was slain, the person who slew him did not incur the guilt of blood; but if the same occurred in daylight, the slayer was guilty in accordance with Exodus 21:12. The distinction may have been based on the fact that in the light of day there was a fair chance of identifying and apprehending the thief.
3If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.
4If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double.
5If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, 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.
Shall put in his beast, and shall feed - Rather, shall let his beast go loose, and it shall feed.
6If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.
7If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man's house; if the thief be found, let him pay double.
8If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges, to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour's goods.
It would appear that if the master of the house would clear himself of imputation, the loss of the pledged article fell upon its owner.
9For all manner of trespass, 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; and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour.
All manner of trespass - He who was accused, and he who had lost the stolen property, were both to appear before the judges Exo 18:25-26.
10If a man deliver unto his neighbour 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:
This law appears to relate chiefly to herdsmen employed by the owners of cattle. When an animal was stolen Exodus 22:12, it was presumed either that the herdsman might have prevented it, or that he could find the thief and bring him to justice (see Exodus 22:4). When an animal was killed by a wild beast, the keeper had to produce the mangled carcass, not only in proof of the fact, but to show that he had, by his vigilance and courage, deprived the wild beast of its prey.
11Then shall an oath of the LORD be between them both, that he hath not put his hand unto his neighbour's goods; and the owner of it shall accept thereof, and he shall not make it good.
12And if it be stolen from him, he shall make restitution unto the owner thereof.
13If it be torn in pieces, then let him bring it for witness, and he shall not make good that which was torn.
14And if a man borrow ought of his neighbour, and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof being not with it, he shall surely make it good.
15But if the owner thereof be with it, he shall not make it good: if it be an hired thing, it came for his hire.
It came for his hire - The sum paid for hiring was regarded as covering the risk of accident.
16And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.
See the marginal references.
17If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.
18Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live - See the marginal references. and Leviticus 20:27. The witch is here named to represent the class. This is the earliest denunciation of witchcraft in the law. In every form of witchcraft there is an appeal to a power not acting in subordination to the divine law. From all such notions and tendencies true worship is designed to deliver us. The practice of witchcraft was therefore an act of rebellion against Yahweh, and, as such, was a capital crime. The passages bearing on the subject in the Prophets, as well as those in the law, carry a lesson for all ages. Isaiah 8:19; Isaiah 19:3; Isaiah 44:25; Isaiah 47:12-13; Micah 5:12, etc.
19Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.
20He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed.
This was probably an old formula, the sense of which, on its ethical side, is comprised in the first and second commandments.
Shall be utterly destroyed - The Hebrew word here used is חרם châram (i. e. devoted). See Leviticus 27:28.
21Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
A stranger - See Exodus 20:10 note.
22Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.
Afflict - A word including all cold and contemptuous treatment. See Deuteronomy 10:18. Contrast the blessing, Deuteronomy 14:29.
23If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry;
24And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.
25If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.
See the notes at Leviticus 25:35-43; compare Deuteronomy 23:19.
26If thou at all take thy neighbour's raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down:
The law regarding pledges is expanded, Deuteronomy 24:6, Deuteronomy 24:10-13.
27For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious.
28Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.
The gods - Heb. אלהים 'ělôhı̂ym. See Exodus 21:6 note. Many take it as the name of God (as in Genesis 1:1), and this certainly seems best to represent the Hebrew, and to suit the context.
Curse the ruler ... - See Acts 23:5.
29Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me.
The offering of firstfruits appears to have been a custom of primitive antiquity and was connected with the earliest acts of sacrifice. See Genesis 4:3-4. The references to it here and in Exodus 23:19 had probably been handed down from patriarchal times. The specific law relating to the firstborn of living creatures was brought out in a strong light in connection with the deliverance from Egypt Exodus 13:2, Exodus 13:12-13; compare Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 22:27; Deuteronomy 26:2-11; Nehemiah 10:35.
The first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors - See the margin. The rendering of our King James Bible is a paraphrase.
30Likewise 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.
31And ye shall be holy men unto me: neither shall ye eat any flesh that is torn of beasts in the field; ye shall cast it to the dogs.
The sanctification of the nation was emphatically symbolized by strictness of diet as regards both the kind of animal, and the mode of slaughtering. See Leviticus 11; 17.