Daily Devotions


Day 183

"Make me understand the way of Your precepts; So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works." Psalm 119:27

Text: Exodus 22 : 9


The laws of Israel would have to be carefully mastered before they could be applied effectively. God had to give to Israel a complete system, and this meant that people would have to be trained to become judges. This was one of the many areas of work that Moses was entrusted with!

“For any kind of trespass, whether it concerns an ox, a donkey,
a sheep, or clothing, or for any kind of lost thing which another
claims to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before
the judges; and whomever the judges condemn shall pay double
to his neighbour.”

1. Misdemeanours and petty offences

Some cases brought to the judges would involve capital punishment. Many of the cases would probably not fall under this category. Some of the cases that the judges would try would be more problematic than heinous! The Law must still provide for judgment when misdemeanour occurs, and when “petty offences” are committed.

The “offences” are too many to list! However, the law courts of Israel had to include the religious and the moral element in its system. The effective word is “trespass”.

a) A “trespass” is simply an act that breaks the Law
b) A “trespass” is essentially a sin against both man and God

2. Claims

Anyone could lay claim of ownership for “lost and found” items. A stray ox, donkey, sheep could be claimed by anyone! The problem becomes compounded when more than one person lays claim to a lost and found article. The judges would have to determine who the rightful owners were! That would require great wisdom and discernment!

3. The authority of the judges

The local judges carried valid authority! They could impose penalties on those who are convicted of criminal offences. Effective punitive judgments must be handed out or the courts would be filled with many claims of “lost property”. The guilty would have to pay “double to his neighbour”.

4. Trial before judges

The system of judging appears to exclude a jury! The judges would have to rely on their expert knowledge of the law. They would have to use every investigative procedure to obtain the truth before they could pronounce judgment!