Exodus 22

 

Remember that the Lord is continuing to dictate to Moses throughout this chapter and the next.

אִם־בַּמַּחְתֶּרֶת יִמָּצֵא הַגַּנָּב וְהֻכָּה וָמֵת אֵין לֹו דָּמִים   22:1

Exod. 22:1  “If, during a burglary, the thief should be found, and struck and killed, no blood guilt shall be for him.”

אִם־זָרְחָה הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ עָלָיו דָּמִים לֹו שַׁלֵּם יְשַׁלֵּם אִם־אֵין לֹו וְנִמְכַּר בִּגְנֵבָתֹו   22:2

Exod. 22:2  “If the sun would be shining over him, blood guilt shall be for him.  He shall surely make restitution.  If he has nothing, then he shall be sold because of his theft.”

Considerable discussion exists among the rabbis about these two verses.  Taken together, the verses don’t make much sense.  Consider the following.    More >>

אִם־הִמָּצֵא תִמָּצֵא בְיָדֹו הַגְּנֵבָה מִשֹּׁור עַד־חֲמֹור עַד־שֶׂה חַיִּים שְׁנַיִם יְשַׁלֵּם   22:3

Exod. 22:3  “If what was acquired should be found alive in his hand, whether an ox, or an ass, or a sheep, he shall pay double.”

Here the dilemma continues, unless we assume that the thief in this case has not been murdered, but was still found during the burglary, or at least before he got away.  He is required to pay only double, because he did not actually succeed in the theft.  The owner, assumed alive also, gets back his animal and gets paid double for it besides.  By the way, doesn’t this verse ignore the admonition of an eye for an eye? 

כִּי יַבְעֶר־אִישׁ שָׂדֶה אֹו־כֶרֶם וְשִׁלַּח אֶת־(בְּעִירָה) [בְּעִירֹו] וּבִעֵר בִּשְׂדֵה אַחֵר מֵיטַב שָׂדֵהוּ וּמֵיטַב   22:4

כַּרְמֹו יְשַׁלֵּם

Exod. 22:4  “When someone might cause a field or a vineyard to be eaten by letting his animal loose and it would feed in the field of another, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field or from the best of his own vineyard.”

There appears to be an error in this verse, as indicated by the parentheses and brackets.  The incorrect form, hry[iB, meaning her animal, is in the parentheses.  The correct form, Arêy[iB., meaning his animal, is in the brackets.

כִּי־תֵצֵא אֵשׁ וּמָצְאָה קֹצִים וְנֶאֱכַל גָּדִישׁ אֹו הַקָּמָה אֹו הַשָּׂדֶה שַׁלֵּם יְשַׁלֵּם הַמַּבְעִר אֶת־הַבְּעֵרָה   22:5

Exod. 22:5  “When a fire might break out and encounter thorns, and stacks of corn or the standing corn or the field should be consumed, he who kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.”

From the wording of this verse it’s impossible to determine if the kindler of the fire is considered to be an arsonist or if the fire was kindled accidentally.  But I will assume the fire was accidental.  If this verse is referring to arson, I’d guess that the punishment would be suitable for a capital crime, and more than restitution would be required.

כִּי־יִתֵּן אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ כֶּסֶף אֹו־כֵלִים לִשְׁמֹר וְגֻנַּב מִבֵּית הָאִישׁ אִם־יִמָּצֵא הַגַּנָּב יְשַׁלֵּם שְׁנָיִם   22:6

Exod. 22:6  “When someone might bring money or things to protect to his neighbor, and it should be stolen from the house of the man, if the thief should be found, he shall repay double.”

אִם־לֹא יִמָּצֵא הַגַּנָּב וְנִקְרַב בַּעַל־הַבַּיִת אֶל־הָאֱלֹהִים אִם־לֹא שָׁלַח יָדֹו בִּמְלֶאכֶת רֵעֵהוּ   22:7

Exod. 22:7  “If the thief should not be found, then the master of the house shall be presented to He Who is God, whether or not he put his hand into the goods of his neighbor.”

עַל־כָּל־דְּבַר־פֶּשַׁע עַל־שֹׁור עַל־חֲמֹור עַל־שֶׂה עַל־שַׂלְמָה עַל־כָּל־אֲבֵדָה אֲשֶׁר יֹאמַר כִּי־הוּא   22:8

 זֶה עַד הָאֱלֹהִים יָבֹא דְּבַר־שְׁנֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר יַרְשִׁיעֻן אֱלֹהִים יְשַׁלֵּם שְׁנַיִם לְרֵעֵהוּ

Exod. 22:8  “On every matter of dispute, be it over an ox, over an ass, over a sheep, over a garment, over anything lost, of which it could be said, “Surely this is it,” the cause of both of them shall be brought up to He Who is God.  Whom God shall declare wrong, he shall pay double to the other.”

כִּי־יִתֵּן אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ חֲמֹור אֹו־שֹׁור אֹו־שֶׂה וְכָל־בְּהֵמָה לִשְׁמֹר וּמֵת אֹו־נִשְׁבַּר אֹו־נִשְׁבָּה אֵין    22:9

רֹאֶה

Exod. 22:9  “When someone might lend an ass or an ox or a sheep or any beast to his neighbor to watch and it should die or be hurt or taken away, no one seeing,

שְׁבֻעַת יְהוָה תִּהְיֶה בֵּין שְׁנֵיהֶם אִם־לֹא שָׁלַח יָדֹו בִּמְלֶאכֶת רֵעֵהוּ וְלָקַח בְּעָלָיו וְלֹא יְשַׁלֵּם   22:10

Exod. 22:10   an oath of the Lord shall be between both of them whether or not one put his hand into the goods of his neighbor, then the owner of it shall accept, and there shall be no restitution.”

וְאִם־גָּנֹב יִגָּנֵב מֵעִמֹּו יְשַׁלֵּם לִבְעָלָיו   22:11

Exod. 22:11   “But if indeed he will have stolen from him, he shall make restitution to the owner of it.”

אִם־טָרֹף יִטָּרֵף יְבִאֵהוּ עֵד הַטְּרֵפָה לֹא יְשַׁלֵּם   22:12

Exod. 22:12   “If it should be totally torn apart, he shall bring it, a witness.  What is torn apart, he need not make good.”

וְכִי־יִשְׁאַל אִישׁ מֵעִם רֵעֵהוּ וְנִשְׁבַּר אֹו־מֵת בְּעָלָיו אֵין־עִמֹּו שַׁלֵּם יְשַׁלֵּם   22:13

Exod. 22:13   “And when someone might borrow from his neighbor, and it should be hurt or die, its owner not being with him, he shall surely make restitution.”

אִם־בְּעָלָיו עִמֹּו לֹא יְשַׁלֵּם אִם־שָׂכִיר הוּא בָּא בִּשְׂכָרֹו   22:14

Exod. 22:14   “If its owner is with him, he shall not make it good.  If he is a hired worker, it is taken by his wages.”

וְכִי־יְפַתֶּה אִישׁ בְּתוּלָה אֲשֶׁר לֹא־אֹרָשָׂה וְשָׁכַב עִמָּהּ מָהֹר יִמְהָרֶנָּה לֹּו לְאִשָּׁה   22:15

Exod. 22:15   “And when someone shall entice a maiden who is not betrothed and lie with her, he shall surely give her a dowry to be his wife.”

Normally the bride brings the dowry.  Is this the man’s punishment for enticing her?  Apparently there was no rape here.

אִם־מָאֵן יְמָאֵן אָבִיהָ לְתִתָּהּ לֹו כֶּסֶף יִשְׁקֹל כְּמֹהַר הַבְּתוּלֹת   22:16

Exod. 22:16   “If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay out money according to the dowry of maidens.”

מְכַשֵּׁפָה לֹא תְחַיֶּה   22:17

Exod. 22:17   “You shall not let a sorceress live.”

כָּל־שֹׁכֵב עִם־בְּהֵמָה מֹות יוּמָת   22:18

Exod. 22:18   “Anyone lying with an animal shall surely be put to death.”

זֹבֵחַ לָאֱלֹהִים יָחֳרָם בִּלְתִּי לַיהוָה לְבַדֹּו   22:19

Exod. 22:19   “A sacrifice to God shall be consecrated inasmuch as it is for the Lord alone.”

Once more we encounter difficult Hebrew.  There is a totally different way to translate this verse, which has stirred much interpretation by the rabbis.  It is something like:

             “One sacrificing to the gods except to the Lord alone shall be utterly destroyed.”

My problem with this translation is that the term ~r_x\y", which is the third word, when it applies to a person or a thing, is not translated as shall be utterly destroyed in any of the other three places it appears in the bible.  It is translated as shall be devoted in two of them and shall be forfeited in the third.  Both these translations are similar in meaning to my translation.  I don’t make too much of the fact that the subject of this verse appears to be out of the context of the surrounding verses.  The truth is that either translation puts it outside of the continuing context.  This sort of interposition of unrelated verses occurs occasionally throughout the bible (such as in v. 22:17 above!).  Often the reason for the juxtaposition of adjoining verses becomes apparent on examination.  Here it seems that v. 22:19 follows v. 22:18 because they both are related to animals.  It’s entirely possible that vss. 22:18 and 19 are aimed at those who are always dealing with animals in an intimate way, such as, perhaps, a shepherd or one who prepares animals for slaughter.  If this connection is reasonable, then the two verses are saying that lying with an animal is punishable by death because that animal could become a sacrifice.  This connection and explanation seem to make good sense to me.  Therefore I see this verse as an explanation for the previous verse, not a commandment.

וְגֵר לֹא־תֹונֶה וְלֹא תִלְחָצֶנּוּ כִּי־גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם   22:20

Exod. 22:20   “And you shall not mistreat a stranger.  Nor shall you oppress him.  For you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

In this verse, the first two second-person pronouns, you, are singular, but the last one is plural.  This observation indicates to me that the responsibility to not mistreat or oppress belongs to the whole community.  The reason for this commandment is that each of us is to remember that we were such strangers in Egypt, and so we know what oppression and mistreatment of strangers are like.  Moreover -- and perhaps more important, we are not to repeat the sins of the Egyptians. 

This verse would seem to be a good candidate for a commandment, but it is included within Deut. 10:19, and therefore is not a separate commandment.                            [Return to Exod. 23:9]

כָּל־אַלְמָנָה וְיָתֹום לֹא תְעַנּוּן   22:21

Exod. 22:21   “You shall not afflict any widow or orphan.”

אִם־עַנֵּה תְעַנֶּה אֹתֹו כִּי אִם־צָעֹק יִצְעַק אֵלַי שָׁמֹעַ אֶשְׁמַע צַעֲקָתֹו   22:22

Exod. 22:22   “If you would afflict him in any way -- for if he would in any way cry out to Me, I would surely hear his cry –

וְחָרָה אַפִּי וְהָרַגְתִּי אֶתְכֶם בֶּחָרֶב וְהָיוּ נְשֵׁיכֶם אַלְמָנֹות וּבְנֵיכֶם יְתֹמִים   22:23

Exod. 22:23   then My ‘anger’ shall wax hot and I will destroy you by the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children orphans.”

The implication in these three verses is that orphans are defined as children without fathers.  Although the third-person pronouns in v. 22:22 are all masculine singular, they appear to apply equally to the widow and the orphan, as indicated by v. 22:23, where the dead sinners’ families will become widows and orphans.

Of much greater importance, I believe, is the realization that while these three verses relate to our treatment of strangers, widows, and orphans, they also hint at something significant about the Lord’s relationship to us.  We know that the Lord is holy, and that He tells us to be holy as well.  One of the ways we are made holy is by following these commandments.  Then does that tell us that the Lord, in His holiness, treats us, His people, the same way?  I believe that this is so.  In a way, we are strangers to the Lord -- He tells us so in Levi. 25:23.  So He would not mistreat or oppress us.  He seems to also be admitting here that widows and orphans are special to Him.  He does not afflict them (beyond the affliction they already experience in life).  In the verses in this chapter, and others, in which the Lord tells us to be kind, honest, empathetic, merciful, and just to those around us, He is telling us how He is with us.  I will say more about this important theme later as the opportunity presents itself.

אִם־כֶּסֶף תַּלְוֶה אֶת־עַמִּי אֶת־הֶעָנִי עִמָּךְ לֹא־תִהְיֶה לוֹ כְּנֹשֶׁה לֹא־תְשִׂימוּן עָלָיו נֶשֶׁךְ   22:24

Exod. 22:24   “If you should lend money to My people, one with you who is poor, you shall not be like a creditor to him; you shall not lay usurious interest on him.”

In vss. 22:21, 22, and 23, the second-person pronouns are all plural, indicating that God was placing this prohibition on every person in a general way.  In v. 22:24, the second-person pronouns (instances of the word you), except for the last one, become singular, thus pointing to the community of lenders specifically, indicating that one way of afflicting the widow or the orphan was by charging usurious interest on a loan.  The prohibition may actually be stronger than indicated, because the term translated as usurious interest can be translated simply as interest.  Now why does the last second-person pronoun become plural again?  My guess is that it may indicate that more than one person would be involved in transacting a loan, as there may be witnesses necessary.  In the next verses, the second-person  pronouns become singular again.

אִם־חָבֹל תַּחְבֹּל שַׂלְמַת רֵעֶךָ עַד־בֹּא הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ תְּשִׁיבֶנּוּ לֹו   22:25

Exod. 22:25   “If you should at all take a pledge of a garment of your neighbor, as the sun sets, you shall return it to him.”

כִּי הִוא (כְסוּתָה) [כְסוּתֹו] לְבַדָּהּ הִוא שִׂמְלָתֹו לְעֹרֹו בַּמֶּה יִשְׁכָּב וְהָיָה כִּי־יִצְעַק אֵלַי וְשָׁמַעְתִּי   22:26

כִּי־חַנּוּן אָנִי

Exod. 22:26   “For it could be his only covering.  It could be his wrapping for his skin.  In what would he sleep?  And it would be when he would cry out to Me, that I would hear, for gracious am I.”

There appears to be an error in this verse, as indicated by the parentheses and brackets.  The incorrect form, ht'Wsk, meaning her ... covering, is in the parentheses.  The correct form, AtWsk., meaning his ... covering, is in the brackets.

אֱלֹהִים לֹא תְקַלֵּל וְנָשִׂיא בְעַמְּךָ לֹא תָאֹר   22:27

Exod. 22:27   “You shall not despise God, as you would not curse a ruler among your people.”

As I’ve translated this verse (non-traditionally), it offers a profound insight into our relationship with God.  I believe that every one of us can find ourselves doing something that causes us embarrassment or shame only when we think no one is looking.  This verse tells us that we may not do anything before God that we would not do regarding any leader, no less.  Are we being told that God is always our witness? 

The traditional translation puts both clauses on an equal level saying something like “You shall not despise God, nor curse a ruler among your people.”  I believe this is an inaccurate translation because two different words are used, despise and curse.  I believe that if the two clauses were on a similar level, the same word would have been used in both.  Why would God tell us not to despise Him, but not to curse a ruler?  I know that different verbs and nouns are often used in the same verse or nearby verses to convey the same general idea.  But in the same verse, it happens infrequently, unless the message is to broaden the meaning conveyed.  In this case, the meaning is not being broadened, as it applies to two different direct objects of the respective verbs.  Thus I believe that my translation is more true to the Hebrew.

מְלֵאָתְךָ וְדִמְעֲךָ לֹא תְאַחֵר בְּכֹור בָּנֶיךָ תִּתֶּן־לִּי   22:28

Exod. 22:28   “You shall not delay the fullness of your ripe fruit and products of your presses.  You shall give the first born of your sons to Me.”

We have already been told that the first born of our sons are to be given to God (Exod. 13:11, 12, and 13).  Why is it repeated here?  I think it’s because it relates to the above discussion connected to the previous verse.  In the earlier verses, those in Chapter 13, we were not told that the first of the fruits, juices, and wines were to be given to God, only the first born males of animals and humans.  So this verse, because of the connection with the above commands, broadens the practice commanded in the earlier verses.

כֵּן־תַּעֲשֶׂה לְשֹׁרְךָ לְצֹאנֶךָ שִׁבְעַת יָמִים יִהְיֶה עִם־אִמֹּו בַּיֹּום הַשְּׁמִינִי תִּתְּנֹו־לִי   22:29

Exod. 22:29   “You shall do the same for your ox, for your sheep.  Seven days it shall be with its mother; on the eighth day you may give it to Me.”                                       [Return to Exod. 23:19]

וְאַנְשֵׁי־קֹדֶשׁ תִּהְיוּן לִי וּבָשָׂר בַּשָּׂדֶה טְרֵפָה לֹא תֹאכֵלוּ לַכֶּלֶב תַּשְׁלִכוּן אֹתֹו   22:30

Exod. 22:30   “And you shall be holy beings to Me; so you shall not eat flesh torn in the field.  You shall cast it to a dog.”                                                                                   [Return to Ezek. 44:31]

Torah Commandments in this Chapter

58.  The procedures pertaining to a burglar shall be followed.   V. 22:1, 22:3

59.  If one's animal is allowed to feed in another's field or vineyard, he shall repay

       with the best of his field or vineyard.   V. 22:4

60.  One who starts a fire accidentally or on purpose shall make restitution.   V. 22:5

61.  If something left for safekeeping with another is stolen, the thief shall repay double.   V. 22:6

62.  If the thief is not found, the safekeeper shall be tried to determine if he was

       responsible.   V. 22:7

63.  In a dispute in which two people claim something to be theirs, they shall be tried,

       and the one who is found wrong pays double.   V. 22:8

64.  The procedures pertaining to a borrowed animal shall be followed.   V. 22:9, 22:10

65.  The procedures pertaining to a sexual seducer of an

       unbetrothed maiden shall be followed.   V. 22:15 -16

66.  You shall not let a sorceress live.   V. 22:17

67.  Anyone lying with a beast shall be put to death.   V.22:18

67.  You shall not afflict a widow or orphan.   V. 22:21

69.  You shall not take usurious interest from a poor Israelite.   V. 22:24

70.  If you take a borrower's garment in pledge, you shall return it as evening arrives.   V. 22:25

71.  You shall not despise God.   V. 22:27

72.  You shall not delay the gift of your first fruits, drink offerings, or firstborn son.   V. 22:28

73  After seven days with its dame a newborn animal belongs to God.   V. 22:29

74.  You shall not eat flesh torn in the field.   V. 22:30

75.  Flesh torn in the field shall be cast to the dogs.   V. 22:30

 

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