22 “If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him. He shall surely pay. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. If the stolen beast is found alive in his possession, whether it is an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double.
“If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed over, or lets his beast loose and it feeds in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best in his own field and in his own vineyard.
“If fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, he who started the fire shall make full restitution.
“If a man gives to his neighbor money or goods to keep safe, and it is stolen from the man’s house, then, if the thief is found, he shall pay double. If the thief is not found, the owner of the house shall come near to God to show whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s property. For every breach of trust, whether it is for an ox, for a donkey, for a sheep, for a cloak, or for any kind of lost thing, of which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before God. The one whom God condemns shall pay double to his neighbor.
“If a man gives to his neighbor a donkey or an ox or a sheep or any beast to keep safe, and it dies or is injured or is driven away, without anyone seeing it, an oath by the LORD shall be between them both to see whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s property. The owner shall accept the oath, and he shall not make restitution. But if it is stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner. If it is torn by beasts, let him bring it as evidence. He shall not make restitution for what has been torn.
“If a man borrows anything of his neighbor, and it is injured or dies, the owner not being with it, he shall make full restitution. If the owner was with it, he shall not make restitution; if it was hired, it came for its hiring fee.
Laws About Social Justice
“If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins.
“You shall not permit a sorceress to live.
“Whoever lies with an animal shall be put to death.
“Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the LORD alone, shall be devoted to destruction.
“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.
“If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him. If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.
“You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.
“You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to me. You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its mother; on the eighth day you shall give it to me.
“You shall be consecrated to me. Therefore you shall not eat any flesh that is torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.
Exodus 22 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Upon reading these laws set by God it would seem or appear they’re pretty stringent or picky. That is simply not the case as it is God’s standards on full display and His longing for His people to be different. On many fronts they are extremely practical and were there to protect and organize the new nation and focus always their attention to Him.
Throughout this chapter there are examples of restitution or making what wrongs have taken place be made right. On some levels there’s even going beyond what would be expected in return in order to ease any pain that could have been caused. But once again they are statements – God’s people are to be different.
It is for sure a day and age when an apology given is hard to come by. Whether it is from our own lips or hearing from someone else that has faulted or wronged us. We all know what it’s like to feel the sting of betrayal or indifference in a meaningful relationship, or really any relationship for that matter. Reconciliation and restitution are essential for healing and wholeness. What if you hold the key in humility to do the right thing, offer an apology and make things better? We are to strive in our own practical ways with other people, going beyond what is expected and be different. Isn’t that what Jesus did?
We are called to be different if we are followers of Him. How does that translate into your own relationships and attitudes?
Exodus 22 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
I am most struck by verses 22 and 25 in this chapter. God has, from the beginning, always had special feelings toward the orphaned, the widowed, and the poor. If anyone wanted to set up God’s wrath against themselves, it would be to offend those who had no one. In this way, we see that God is the defender of the weak. He is a stronghold for those who are afflicted. In the end, he delivers those who are oppressed and cry out to Him. I believe this wholeheartedly.
When Jesus came as God in the flesh, he echoed this same attitude.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.Matthew 5:3-12 NASB
Humility is the trait we see so often in those who have nothing. This would be the requirement for the heart in order to really see and know God at a spiritual level. It’s not that those who were fortunate in life could not see God, but that the meek and poor in spirit could more readily cry out to God because they had nothing else to lean on. This was the case with the rich, young ruler as he walked away sad that Jesus wanted him to give away everything he owned.
Wealth and prosperity can be a stumbling block for spiritual growth and, in my opinion, this is why so many in western culture are nominal Christians. In times of struggle, we find a new strength in the Lord. So, blessed are those who have been given much in life and still are willing to part with all of it for His glory!
It brings me great joy to be reminded that God sees those who are poor and afflicted. Not so much (or exclusively) poor materially, but those who are spiritually bankrupt as well. This attitude assumes that we can do nothing on our own and desperately need a Savior to rescue us. God uses the things of this world to shame the proud and rescue the humble. We must remember that this is what His desire is for our souls.