Exodus 22:12
But if the animal was actually stolen from the neighbor, he must make restitution to the owner.
RestitutionJ. Orr Exodus 22:1-16
The Law of TrustsG. Hughes, B. D.Exodus 22:7-13

We have to mark again in this chapter with how even a hand the law of Moses holds the scales of justice. The cases ruled by the principle of restitution are the following: -

I. THEFT (vers. 1-5). The illustrations in the law relate to thefts of cattle. But the principles embodied apply to thefts generally (cf. ver. 7). Note -

1. The law which punishes the theft, protects the thief's life. It refuses, indeed, to be responsible for him in the event of his being smitten in the night-time, while engaged in the act of housebreaking (ver. 2) - large rights of self-defence being in this case necessary for the protection of the community. The thief might be killed under a misapprehension of his purpose; or by a blow struck at random in the darkness, and under the influence of panic; or in justifiable self-defence, in a scuffle arising from the attempt to detain him. In other circumstances, the law will not allow the thief's life to be taken (ver. 3). All the ends of justice are served by his being compelled to make restitution. Blood is not to be spilt needlessly. The killing of a thief after sunrise is to be dealt with as murder. We infer from this that theft ought not to be made a capital offence. English law, at the beginning of this century, was, in this respect, far behind the law of Moses.

2. Theft is to be dealt with on the principle of restitution.

(1) It calls for more than simple restitution. At most the restitution of the simple equivalent brings matters back to the position in which they were before the criminal act was committed. That position ought never to have been disturbed; and punishment is still due to the wrongdoer for having disturbed it. Hence the law that if the stolen animal is found in the thief's hand alive, he shall restore double (ver. 4); if he has gone the length of killing or selling it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep (ver. 1).

(2) Penalty is proportioned to offence. Both as respects the value of the things stolen, and as respects the lengths to which criminality has proceeded.

3. If direct restitution is impossible, the thief shall be compelled to make restitution by his labour - "He shall be sold for his theft" (ver. 3). It would be an improvement in the administration of justice if this principle were more frequently acted on. The imprisoned thief might be made to work out an equivalent for his theft; and this, in addition to the hardships of his imprisonment, might be accepted as legal restitution.

II. DAMAGE (vers. 5, 6). The damage done, in the one case to a field or vineyard, by allowing a beast to stray into it, and feed upon the produce; in the other, by setting fire to thorn hedges, and injuring the corn-stacks, or standing corn, is supposed to be unintentional. Yet, as arising from preventible causes - from carelessness and neglect - the owner of the beast, or the person who kindled the fire, is held responsible. He must make good the damage from the best of his own possessions. We are held fully responsible for the consequences of neglect (cf. Hebrews 2:3).

III. DISHONEST RETENTION OF PROPERTY (vers. 7-14). Cases of this kind involved judicial investigation.

1. If the charge of dishonest retention was made out, the fraudulent party was to restore double (ver. 9).

2. If an ox, ass, sheep, or any beast, entrusted. to another to keep, died, was hurt, or was driven away, "no man seeing it," the person responsible for its safety could clear himself by an oath from the suspicion of having unlawfully "put his hand" to it (ver. 11). In this case, he was not required to make good the loss.

3. If, however, the animal was stolen from his premises, under circumstances which implied a want of proper care, he was required to make restitution (ver. 12).

4. If the animal was alleged to have been torn to pieces, the trustee was required to prove this by producing the mangled remains (ver. 13).

IV. Loss OF WHAT IS BORROWED (vers. 14, 15).

1. If the owner is not with his property, the borrower is bound to make good loss by injury or death.

2. If the owner is with it, the borrower is not held responsible.

3. If the article or beast be lent on hire, the hire is regarded as covering the risk. - J.O.

If a man steal.
God made provision not only for the acquisition of property, but for its security. Hence this law, which respects —

1. Theft.

2. Housebreaking.

I. THEFT (vers. 1-4). As the wealth of an Israelite consisted mainly in flocks and herds, the depredations of the thief were directed for the most part against them.

II. HOUSEBREAKING (vers. 2, 3). Learn —

1. That God's providence extends to property as well as persons. Both are His gift.

2. That those who endeavour to thwart that providence play a losing game.

3. That the recognition of that providence is not inconsistent with, but demands the use of, means. It is an abuse and perversion of it to tamely submit to wrong when the legitimate prevention of wrong is within our reach.

4. That providence protects even the life of the wrong-doer, and no man must wantonly interfere with that protection.

(J. W. Burn.)






(W. Burrows, B. A.)

This is the only way of getting at a thief. You cannot reason with him. He dismissed his reason before he committed his felony. He had first to strangle his reason; he committed murder in the sanctuary of his soul before he committed theft in the fields of his neighbour. What, then, is to be done with him? "He must be made to feel the folly of theft; he must be made to feel that theft is a bad investment; he must be made to feel that he has played the fool even in the excess of his cleverness. The thief would be made to know what dishonesty is, when for the one ox he must pay five in its place. He could have evaded an argument; he could have doubled upon a covenant, and have quibbled about the ambiguity of its terms; but he could not shuffle out of this four-square arithmetical arrangement. Five oxen for an ox, four sheep for a sheep; and by the time the thief had played at that game two or three days, he would have put on the garb, at least, of an honest man!

(J. Parker, D. D.)

A coal merchant in one of our American cities was approached by a minister in regard to the salvation of his soul. The merchant declared it an impossibility for him ever to become a Christian. He gave as a reason his mode of business. For a long term of years, he had, according to a too general custom, given short weight. He had thus grown rich, and now felt the inconsistency of seeking religion without restitution. This was impossible: many of his customers were dead, others beyond his knowledge. The thought of the poor who had paid for coal they had never received rested heavily on him. He asked the minister if he thought the substitution of a gift to the poor would be acceptable to God. The minister advised him to try it. A large donation, more than equal in amount to his unjust gains, was made, and the merchant sought God in earnest. He was happily converted, and is to-day a prominent member of the church.

As a gentleman in London entered his house, he found a well-dressed female sitting on the stairs, who asked pardon for the liberty she had taken, saying that, hearing the alarm of a mad dog, she had taken refuge in his house. On hearing her story, he gave her some refreshment; and she left, thanking him for his civility. In the evening his lady missed her gold watch; and it was concluded the female was the thief. Fifteen years afterwards, the watch was returned, with a note from this woman, saying the gospel had changed her heart, and she desired to return the watch to its rightful owner.

What a shame then is this to Christians, who minding nothing less than restitution, make ex rapina holocaustum: out of a world of ill-gotten goods, they cull out some small fragments to erect some poor hospital; having cheated thousands, build alms-houses for some few, and then set a glorious inscription in front, whereas this one word, Aceldama, would be far more proper.

(J. Spencer.)

A man in New Jersey told me the following circumstances respecting himself and one of his neighbours. "I once owned a large flock of hens. I generally kept them shut up. But one spring I concluded to let them run in my yard, after I had clipped their wings so that they could not fly. One day, when I came home to dinner, I learned that one of my neighbours had been there full of wrath, to let me know that my hens had been in his garden, and that he had killed several of them, and thrown them over into my yard. I determined at once to be revenged. I sat down and ate my dinner as calmly as I could. By the time I had finished I thought that perhaps it was not best to fight with my neighbour about hens, and thereby make him my bitter enemy. I concluded to try another way, being sure that it would be better. After dinner, I went to my neighbour's. He was in his garden. I went out and found him in pursuit of one of my hens with a club, trying to kill it. I accosted him. He turned upon me, his face inflamed with wrath, and broke out in a great fury, 'You have abused me. I will kill all your hens, if I can get them. I never was so abused. My garden is ruined.' 'I am sorry for it,' said I: 'I did not wish to injure you; and now see that I have made a great mistake in letting out my hens. I ask your forgiveness, and am willing to pay you six times the damage.' The man seemed confounded. He did not know what to make of it. He looked up to the sky, then down at the earth, then at his neighbour, then at his club, then at the poor hen he had been pursuing, and said nothing. 'Tell me now,' said I, 'what is the damage and I will pay you six-fold; and my hens shall trouble you no more. I will leave it entirely for you to say what I shall do. I cannot afford to lose the love and goodwill of my neighbours, and quarrel with them, for hens or anything else.' 'I am a great fool!' said my neighbour; 'the damage is not worth talking about; and I have more need to compensate you than you me, and to ask your forgiveness than you mine.'"

(Mrs. Child's Letters from New York.)

Mount Sinai
Actually, Animal, Certainly, Loss, Neighbor, Owner, Repay, Restitution, Stolen, Thereof, Thief
1. Of Theft
5. Of damage
7. Of trespasses
14. Of borrowing
16. Of fornication
18. Of witchcraft
19. Of bestiality
20. Of idolatry
21. Of strangers, widows, and fatherless
25. Of usury
26. Of pledges
28. Of reverence to magistrates
29. Of the first fruits
31. Of torn flesh

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Exodus 22:1-17

     5492   restitution

Exodus 22:3-15

     5264   compensation

Exodus 22:5-15

     5511   safety

Exodus 22:10-15

     4605   animals, religious role

Excursus on Usury.
The famous canonist Van Espen defines usury thus: "Usura definitur lucrum ex mutuo exactum aut speratum;" [96] and then goes on to defend the proposition that, "Usury is forbidden by natural, by divine, and by human law. The first is proved thus. Natural law, as far as its first principles are concerned, is contained in the decalogue; but usury is prohibited in the decalogue, inasmuch as theft is prohibited; and this is the opinion of the Master of the Sentences, of St. Bonaventura, of St. Thomas
Philip Schaff—The Seven Ecumenical Councils

Parable of the Importunate Widow.
^C Luke XVIII. 1-8. ^c 1 And he spake a parable unto them to the end that they ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 saying, There was in a city a judge, who feared not God, and regarded not man [an utterly abandoned character]: 3 and there was a widow in that city; and she came oft unto him, saying, Avenge me of [rather, Do justice to me as to] mine adversary. [In Scripture language widowhood is symbolic of defenselessness (Ex. xxii. 22-24; Deut. x. 18; xxvii. 19; Mal. iii. 5; Mark xii. 40),
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Ciii. Zacchæus. Parable of the Pounds. Journey to Jerusalem.
(Jericho.) ^C Luke XIX. 1-28. ^c 1 And he entered and was passing through Jericho. [This was about one week before the crucifixion. Jericho is about seven miles from the Jordan and about seventeen and a half from Jerusalem.] 2 And behold, a man called by name Zacchaeus; and he was a chief publican, and he was rich. [See p. 76. It is probable that Zacchæus was a sub-contractor under some Roman knight who had bought the privilege of collecting taxes at Jericho, or perhaps the privilege of all
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Epistle Xl. To Mauricius Augustus.
To Mauricius Augustus. Gregory to Mauricius, &c. The Piety of my Lords in their most serene commands, while set on refuting me on certain matters, in sparing me has by no means spared me. For by the use therein of the term simplicity they politely call me silly. It is true indeed that in Holy Scripture, when simplicity is spoken of in a good sense, it is often carefully associated with prudence and uprightness. Hence it is written of the blessed Job, The man was simple and upright (Job i. 1).
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great

Appeal to the Christian Women of the South
BY A.E. GRIMKE. "Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not within thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place: but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this. And Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer:--and so will I go in unto the king,
Angelina Emily Grimke—An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South

Epistle xvii. To Felix, Bishop of Messana.
To Felix, Bishop of Messana. To our most reverend brother, the Bishop Felix, Gregory, servant of the servants of God [246] . Our Head, which is Christ, to this end has willed us to be His members, that through His large charity and faithfulness He might make us one body in Himself, to whom it befits us so to cling that, since without Him we can do nothing, through Him we may be enabled to be what we are called. From the citadel of the Head let nothing divide us, lest, if we refuse to be His members,
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great

Feast of the Dedication. The Jews Attempt to Stone Jesus and He Retires to Peræa.
(Jerusalem and Beyond Jordan.) ^D John X. 22-42. ^d 22 And it was the feast of the dedication at Jerusalem: 23; it was winter; and Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch. [The feast of dedication was one of eight days' duration and began upon the 25th Chisleu, which, according to the calculation of M. Chevannes, fell upon the nineteenth or twentieth of December, a.d. 29. The feast was kept in honor of the renovation and purification of the temple in the year b.c. 164, after it had been desecrated
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

A Summary of the Christian Life. Of Self-Denial.
The divisions of the chapter are,--I. The rule which permits us not to go astray in the study of righteousness, requires two things, viz., that man, abandoning his own will, devote himself entirely to the service of God; whence it follows, that we must seek not our own things, but the things of God, sec. 1, 2. II. A description of this renovation or Christian life taken from the Epistle to Titus, and accurately explained under certain special heads, sec. 3 to end. 1. ALTHOUGH the Law of God contains
Archpriest John Iliytch Sergieff—On the Christian Life

Jesus' Last Public Discourse. Denunciation of Scribes and Pharisees.
(in the Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, a.d. 30.) ^A Matt. XXIII. 1-39; ^B Mark XII. 38-40; ^C Luke XX. 45-47. ^a 1 Then spake Jesus ^b 38 And in his teaching ^c in the hearing of all the people he said unto ^a the multitudes, and to his disciples [he spoke in the most public manner], 2 saying, ^c 46 Beware of the scribes, ^a The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat: 3 all things whatsoever they bid you, these do and observe: but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Circumcision, Temple Service, and Naming of Jesus.
(the Temple at Jerusalem, b.c. 4) ^C Luke II. 21-39. ^c 21 And when eight days [Gen. xvii. 12] were fulfilled for circumcising him [The rite was doubtless performed by Joseph. By this rite Jesus was "made like unto his brethren" (Heb. ii. 16, 17); that is, he became a member of the covenant nation, and became a debtor to the law--Gal. v. 3] , his name was called JESUS [see Luke i. 59], which was so called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. [Luke i. 31.] 22 And when the days of their
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Development of the Earlier Old Testament Laws
[Sidenote: First the principle, and then the detailed laws] If the canon of the New Testament had remained open as long as did that of the Old, there is little doubt that it also would have contained many laws, legal precedents, and ecclesiastical histories. From the writings of the Church Fathers and the records of the Catholic Church it is possible to conjecture what these in general would have been. The early history of Christianity illustrates the universal fact that the broad principles are
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

The Blessing of Jacob Upon Judah. (Gen. Xlix. 8-10. )
Ver. 8. "Judah, thou, thy brethren shall praise thee; thy hand shall be on the neck of thine enemies; before thee shall bow down the sons of thy father. Ver. 9. A lion's whelp is Judah; from the prey, my son, thou goest up; he stoopeth down, he coucheth as a lion, and as a full-grown lion, who shall rouse him up? Ver. 10. The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and unto Him the people shall adhere." Thus does dying Jacob, in announcing
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

The Eighth Commandment
Thou shalt not steal.' Exod 20: 15. AS the holiness of God sets him against uncleanness, in the command Thou shalt not commit adultery;' so the justice of God sets him against rapine and robbery, in the command, Thou shalt not steal.' The thing forbidden in this commandment, is meddling with another man's property. The civil lawyers define furtum, stealth or theft to be the laying hands unjustly on that which is another's;' the invading another's right. I. The causes of theft. [1] The internal causes
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

The book of Exodus--so named in the Greek version from the march of Israel out of Egypt--opens upon a scene of oppression very different from the prosperity and triumph in which Genesis had closed. Israel is being cruelly crushed by the new dynasty which has arisen in Egypt (i.) and the story of the book is the story of her redemption. Ultimately it is Israel's God that is her redeemer, but He operates largely by human means; and the first step is the preparation of a deliverer, Moses, whose parentage,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

Exodus 22:12 NIV
Exodus 22:12 NLT
Exodus 22:12 ESV
Exodus 22:12 NASB
Exodus 22:12 KJV

Exodus 22:12 Bible Apps
Exodus 22:12 Parallel
Exodus 22:12 Biblia Paralela
Exodus 22:12 Chinese Bible
Exodus 22:12 French Bible
Exodus 22:12 German Bible

Exodus 22:12 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Exodus 22:11
Top of Page
Top of Page