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Laws of Restitution


When someone steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, the thief shall pay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. The thief shall make restitution, but if unable to do so, shall be sold for the theft.

2 If a thief is found breaking in, and is beaten to death, no bloodguilt is incurred; 3but if it happens after sunrise, bloodguilt is incurred.

4When the animal, whether ox or donkey or sheep, is found alive in the thief’s possession, the thief shall pay double.

5 When someone causes a field or vineyard to be grazed over, or lets livestock loose to graze in someone else’s field, restitution shall be made from the best in the owner’s field or vineyard.

6 When fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, the one who started the fire shall make full restitution.

7 When someone delivers to a neighbor money or goods for safekeeping, and they are stolen from the neighbor’s house, then the thief, if caught, shall pay double. 8If the thief is not caught, the owner of the house shall be brought before God, to determine whether or not the owner had laid hands on the neighbor’s goods.

9 In any case of disputed ownership involving ox, donkey, sheep, clothing, or any other loss, of which one party says, “This is mine,” the case of both parties shall come before God; the one whom God condemns shall pay double to the other.

10 When someone delivers to another a donkey, ox, sheep, or any other animal for safekeeping, and it dies or is injured or is carried off, without anyone seeing it, 11an oath before the L ord shall decide between the two of them that the one has not laid hands on the property of the other; the owner shall accept the oath, and no restitution shall be made. 12But if it was stolen, restitution shall be made to its owner. 13If it was mangled by beasts, let it be brought as evidence; restitution shall not be made for the mangled remains.

14 When someone borrows an animal from another and it is injured or dies, the owner not being present, full restitution shall be made. 15If the owner was present, there shall be no restitution; if it was hired, only the hiring fee is due.

Social and Religious Laws

16 When a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged to be married, and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife. 17But if her father refuses to give her to him, he shall pay an amount equal to the bride-price for virgins.

18 You shall not permit a female sorcerer to live.

19 Whoever lies with an animal shall be put to death.

20 Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the L ord alone, shall be devoted to destruction.

21 You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. 22You shall not abuse any widow or orphan. 23If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry; 24my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children orphans.

25 If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them. 26If you take your neighbor’s cloak in pawn, you shall restore it before the sun goes down; 27for it may be your neighbor’s only clothing to use as cover; in what else shall that person sleep? And if your neighbor cries out to me, I will listen, for I am compassionate.

28 You shall not revile God, or curse a leader of your people.

29 You shall not delay to make offerings from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses.

The firstborn of your sons you shall give to me. 30You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall remain with its mother; on the eighth day you shall give it to me.

31 You shall be people consecrated to me; therefore you shall not eat any meat that is mangled by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.

10. If a man deliver unto his neighbor an ass. Since in the passage from whence I have taken these four verses, mention is made of a deposit, and Moses is professedly providing against frauds, and robberies, and thefts, I have thought it well to place them under this head. It has indeed some relation to the Third Commandment, because it shows the lawful use of an oath, viz., that in matters of concealment men should have recourse to the witness of God, and that, by the interposition of His sacred name, an end should be put to their strife. But, while the authority attributed to oaths depends on the reverence due to God, at the same time faith and piety are enforced in them, 140140     For these latter words, which I hardly understand, the following are substituted in Fr., “Cela touche quant et quant a son service et religion.” so that all things should correspond. I have, however, considered the main point, i e., how controversies as to things concealed should be brought to an end for the advancement of peace and equity. He would therefore have the depositary acquitted, if he swears that the animal entrusted to him is lost (either by death or violence, 141141     Added from Fr. ) although lie should produce no witness of the matter, since it would be unjust that he should bear the blame, unless fraud, or some more palpable offense, have been committed by him. At the conclusion, then, it is said, “the owner of it shall accept” the oath, which is equivalent to saying, that lie shall be compelled to acquiesce, and shall give no more trouble about it. The expression, “an oath of the Lord shall be between them both,” is a remarkable one, whereby the obligation and sanctity of an oath are enforced, whilst Moses reminds us that God is the author of this sacred mode of attestation, and presides over it as its judge and avenger.

Moses now lays down the law as to a borrowed animal, if it die, or be mutilated, or injured. There is, however, a wide distinction between a thing borrowed and a thing deposited, for he who lends confers a favor; and therefore, when a man borrows a thing, he binds himself to restore it in safety, as far as in him lies. A distinction, however, is made, if the owner himself of the animal be an eye-witness of the death or fracture, he shall bear the loss; but if the animal should die or be injured in his absence, its value is awarded to him. His presence is tantamount to this, as if it were said, if he shall have seen with his own eyes that the injury did not occur by the fault of him to whom he lent it, then he shall give him no trouble about it. For instance, if you have lent me a horse, and take the journey with me, although anything untoward should happen — supposing you are assured that it did not occur by my temerity, or negligence, or bad management, I am free, and exempt from loss.

What is here laid down as to a borrowed animal must be applied also to all other things borrowed.

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