"I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word." Psalm 119:16
Text: Exodus 22 : 1-3
A good judicial system must be as full and complete as possible. Hence, God made certain that the laws that He gave to Israel would be sufficient to cover all important areas of life! The best approach to these laws would be to appreciate the reasons why God gave them in the first place, and to delight in them!
LAWS RELATED TO THEFT
The eighth commandment forbade stealing! Nevertheless, the problem of theft cannot be eradicated easily! The law must provide for judgment against theft.
“If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it,
or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox
and four sheep for a sheep.”
This law provided for restoration rather than a jail sentence! The shame of being caught, the knowledge of breaking God’s laws were meant to be felt by the thief!
2. Punitive element
There was also a strong punitive element! The thief must pay fivefold for an ox stolen, and fourfold for a sheep. The higher the value of the object stolen, the greater the punitive element!
CAUGHT IN THE ACT – AT NIGHT
If a thief is caught in the very act of stealing, he might find himself ruing the day he chose to steal. In communities that were particularly strong, the thief might find himself facing “tribal anger”. The whole village may well descend on him in anger!
“If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck
so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed.”
The thief must know that if he were to be caught in the act of stealing, he would face the ire of the people he intended to steal from! If people set upon him and rained blows on him, he might well be struck fatal blows. He could die from his injuries! However, since this death was not pre-meditated, there would also be no guilt laid upon those who laid hands on the thief! The context of the beating of the thief, read carefully, was done in the night.
CAUGHT IN THE ACT – IN THE DAY
Should the thief be caught in broad daylight, those who beat him to death would be held accountable. The villagers cannot be excused for beating a thief to death then!
“If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt
on his bloodshed.”