Exodus 22:12
And if it be stolen from him, he shall make restitution to the owner thereof.
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(12) If it be stolen from him, he shall make restitution.It seems to have been considered that theft could have been prevented by proper care, but that hurts from wild beasts or accidents were not preventible.

22; 1 - 31 Judicial laws. - The people of God should ever be ready to show mildness and mercy, according to the spirit of these laws. We must answer to God, not only for what we do maliciously, but for what we do heedlessly. Therefore, when we have done harm to our neighbour, we should make restitution, though not compelled by law. Let these scriptures lead our souls to remember, that if the grace of God has indeed appeared to us, then it has taught us, and enabled us so to conduct ourselves by its holy power, that denying ungodliness and wordly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, Titus 2:12. And the grace of God teaches us, that as the Lord is our portion, there is enough in him to satisfy all the desires of our souls.This law appears to relate chiefly to herdsmen employed by the owners of cattle. When an animal was stolen Exodus 22:12, it was presumed either that the herdsman might have prevented it, or that he could find the thief and bring him to justice (see Exodus 22:4). When an animal was killed by a wild beast, the keeper had to produce the mangled carcass, not only in proof of the fact, but to show that he had, by his vigilance and courage, deprived the wild beast of its prey. 6. If fire break out, and catch in thorns—This refers to the common practice in the East of setting fire to the dry grass before the fall of the autumnal rains, which prevents the ravages of vermin, and is considered a good preparation of the ground for the next crop. The very parched state of the herbage and the long droughts of summer, make the kindling of a fire an operation often dangerous, and always requiring caution from its liability to spread rapidly.

stacks—or as it is rendered "shocks" (Jud 15:5; Job 5:26), means simply a bundle of loose sheaves.

From him, Heb. from with him, which is an emphatical expression, and notes that this was taken away, either,

1. From those things which were with him, or which were his, i.e. from the midst of his own goods, which supposeth fraud in him. Or,

2. From under his eye, when he either did know of it, or with common care and diligence it might have been known and prevented, and this argues gross neglect in him. And this is one reason why this man is bound to make restitution, when the other, Exodus 22:7, is not: another reason of the difference is, because those things, Exodus 22:7, were only or principally dead things, and such things as required no great care; or if they did, (for in that case also were included oxen, asses, &c., Exodus 22:9) yet he with whom they were left received no recompence for them, and therefore was not obliged to any singular care about them; but here the things were such as needed great care and diligence, which also this man was obliged to perform by the hire which he received upon that account, which was Jacob’s case, Genesis 31:39. And if it be stolen from him,.... Or "but if" (x) it was taken away by theft; and that "from with him" (y), as it may be literally rendered, from among his own cattle, and they not taken; and he being present, pretending to have an eye upon them and keep them, but was careless and negligent, at least, if he did not connive at the theft:

he shall make restitution to the owner thereof; for in such a case there was ground for suspicion of fraud; however, there was apparent carelessness, and it was but just he should make restitution, since he had hire or wages for keeping it; which is the reason Aben Ezra gives for it, and is suggested by the Targum of Jonathan; which adds to the former clause, by way of explanation,"that which was with him to be kept for a reward.''

(x) "si autem", Drusius. (y) "e cum eo", Montanus.

And if it be stolen from him, he shall make restitution unto the owner thereof.
12. If, however, the animal be stolen, this might have been guarded against by greater care, and compensation must be made.Verse 12. - If it be stolen. - If, however, the case was not an ambiguous one, but certainly known to he one of theft, restitution had to be made, since it was supposed that with proper care the theft might have been prevented. Exodus 22:6 also relates to unintentional injury, arising from want of proper care: "If fire break out and catch thorns (thorn-hedges surrounding a corn-field, Isaiah 5:5; Sir. 28:24), and sheaves, or the standing seed (הקּמה the corn standing in the straw), or the field be consumed, he that kindleth the fire shall make compensation (for the damage done)."
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