Exodus 22:14
And if a man borrow ought of his neighbor, and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof being not with it, he shall surely make it good.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14, 15) Lending is a species of deposit; but for the benefit, not of the depositor, but of the man with whom the deposit is made. The obligation of the latter to keep intact and to return is therefore even more stringent than in the preceding case. Consequently, if the thing lent were lost or injured, however the loss was brought about, the borrower was justly called upon to make it good. The only exception was, when the lender was still in charge of what he lent, present with it, and able to keep guard over it.

Exodus 22:14-15. If a man (suppose) lent his team to his neighbour, if the owner were with it, or were to receive profit for the loan of it, whatever harm befell the cattle the owner must stand to the loss of it; but if the owner were so kind to the borrower as to lend it him gratis, and put such a confidence in him as to trust it from under his own eye, then, if any harm happened, the borrower must make it good. We may learn hence to be very careful not to abuse any thing that is lent to us; it is not only unjust, but base and disingenuous: we should much rather choose to lose ourselves, than that any should sustain loss by their kindness to us.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.

Ought, i.e. any living thing, which may be

hurt or

die, as it follows.

He shall surely make it good: this may seem hard, but all things considered is reasonable; because in doubtful cases, wherein it is not evident whether the borrower was faulty or not, as it is here, it ought to be interpreted in favour of the lender, rather than of the borrower; partly, to oblige the borrower to the greater fidelity and care in such things, which being not his own, men are commonly more careless about; partly, because the benefit being wholly the borrower’s, the loss also in all reason ought to be his, and the lender ought not to suffer for his kindness, lest he should be discouraged from such actions for the future. And if a man borrow ought of his neighbour,.... Any beast, as it should seem, as an ox to plough with, an ass, horse, or camel to ride on, though the Jewish writers carry it also to any kind of household stuff:

and if he be hurt or die; if any damage comes to it, or it dies while it is in the borrower's hands, and when employed in that work for which he borrowed it; the Targum of Jonathan is,"and the vessel should be broke, or the beast die:''and the owner thereof being not with it; at the time of its being hurt, or of its death, and so could not be so well satisfied whether used well or not, nor how the damage and death came to it:

he shall surely make it good; pay the full price for it it is worth; which, though it may seem hard, was necessary, in order to make men careful of things they borrowed, and that lenders may not be losers for their kindness.

And if a man borrow ought of his neighbor, and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof being not with it, he shall surely make it good.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. barrow (an animal)] No object is expressed in the Heb.: it must be understood from vv. 10–13. The sequel shews that an animal is intended. ‘Borrow’ is lit. ask: so Exo 2 Kings 6:5. Cf. on Exodus 12:36be hurt] lit. broken, as v. 10.

14, 15. Compensation for injury to a borrowed animal. If the owner is not with it, the borrower is responsible and must make restitution; if the owner is with it, it is presumed that he might have prevented any ill-usage or injury, and the borrower is not responsible. Cf. Ḥamm. §§ 245–6 (a hired animal).Verses 14, 15 LAW OF BORROWING. - The act of borrowing is connected with that of depositing, since in both cases, the property of one man is committed to the hands of another; only, in the one case, it is at the instance and for the benefit of the man into whose hands the property passes; in the other case, it is at the instance and for the benefit of the other party. This difference causes a difference of obligation. The borrower, having borrowed solely for his own advantage, must take all the risks, and in any case return the thing borrowed, or its value, unless the owner was still, in some sort, in charge of his own property. Things hired are not, however, to be regarded as borrowed. If harm come to them, the owner must suffer the loss. Verse 14. And it be hurt or die. - The thing borrowed might be animate or inanimate; either might be "hurt;" the former might not only be hurt, but "die." Whatever the damage, and whatever the cause, unless in the single rare case of the owner being in charge, the law required the borrower to make good the loss to the owner. This law must have acted as a considerable check upon borrowing. In cases of dishonesty, or the loss of property entrusted, the following was to be the recognised right: If money or articles (כּלים, not merely tools and furniture, but clothes and ornaments, cf. Deuteronomy 22:5; Isaiah 61:10) given to a neighbour to keep should be stolen out of his house, the thief was to restore double if he could be found; but if he could not be discovered, the master of the house was to go before the judicial court (האלהים אל, see Exodus 21:6; אל נקרב to draw near to), to see "whether he has not stretched out his hand to his neighbour's goods." מלאכה: lit., employment, then something earned by employment, a possession. Before the judicial court he was to cleanse himself of the suspicion of having fraudulently appropriated what had been entrusted to him; and in most cases this could probably be only done by an oath of purification. The Sept. and Vulg. both point to this by interpolating καὶ ὀμεῖται, et jurabit ("and he shall swear"), though we are not warranted in supplying ויּשּׁבע in consequence. For, apart from the fact that אם־לא is not to be regarded as a particle of adjuration here, as Rosenmller supposes, since this particle signifies "truly" when employed in an oath, and therefore would make the declaration affirmative, whereas the oath was unquestionably to be taken as a release from the suspicion of fraudulent appropriation, and in case of confession an oath was not requisite at all; - apart from all this, if the lawgiver had intended to prescribe an oath for such a case, he would have introduced it here, just as he has done in Exodus 22:11. If the man could free himself before the court from the suspicion of unfaithfulness, he would of course not have to make compensation for what was lost, but the owner would have to bear the damage. This legal process is still further extended in Exodus 22:9 : על־כּל־דּבר־פּשׁע, "upon every matter of trespass" (by which we are to understand, according to the context, unfaithfulness with regard to, or unjust appropriation of, the property of another man, not only when it had been entrusted, but also if it had been found), "for ox, for ass, etc., or for any manner of lost thing, of which one says that it is this ("this," viz., the matter of trespass), the cause of both (the parties contending about the right of possession) shall come to the judicial court; and he whom the court (Elohim) shall pronounce guilty (of unjust appropriation) shall give double compensation to his neighbour: only double as in Exodus 22:4 and Exodus 22:7, not four or fivefold as in Exodus 22:1, because the object in dispute had not been consumed.
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