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Numbers 5

Numbers 5:5-7

5. And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying,

5. Loquutus est Jehova ad Mosen, dicendo:

6. Speak unto the children of Israel, when a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to do a trespass against the Lord, and that person be guilty;

6. Alloquere filios Israel, Vir sive mulier quum fecerint ex omnibus peccatis hominum, transgrediendo transgressione in Jehovam, et deliquerit anima illa:

7. Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed.

7. Fatebuntur peccatum suum quod fecerunt: et restituet delictum suum in solidum, et quintam ejus partem superaddet, dabitque ei in quem peccaverit.

 

5. And the Lord spoke unto Moses. Although at the outset He seems to include all trespasses, yet we gather from the context that the precept only refers to things stolen or fraudulently withheld, that he, who is conscious of his guilt, should make reparation. It must be observed, however, that the law relates to more secret thefts, which are not usually brought to justice: and on this account it is said, “If they have committed any sin after the manner of men, they must not seek for subterfuge from ordinary use and custom.” Although, therefore, they may have many companions, God declares that this will not avail for their excuse; and consequently commands them voluntarily to restore what they have fraudulently or wrongfully appropriated. He will treat hereafter of the punishment of theft; He now only prescribes that, although no one shall bring the guilty parties to justice, and their crime may not be discovered, still they should diligently examine their consciences, and themselves ingenuously declare the secret transgression; and also make compensation for the loss conferred, since, without restitution, their confession would be but illusory. I now pass over what Moses adds, that, if no heir exists to whom the stolen goods may be restored, they should offer it to the priest, because I have already expounded it: except that we gather frost thence, that a contamination is contracted by fraud and rapine, which is never purged unless the house is well cleared of the ill-gotten gain. But this offering was treated of amongst the laws of the priests: 128128     See vol. 2, p. 273, on Numbers 5:8. now, with respect to the restitution, we must consider that the fifth part was superadded, not so much in order that he, who had suffered the loss, should be enriched, as that all should diligently beware of every offense, which they hear not only to be useless to themselves, but also to be productive of loss. Besides, when a man has been robbed, it is often of more consequence than this additional fifth part, that he should have been deprived of the use of his property.


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