Exodus 22:6
If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.
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(6) If fire break out, and catch in thorns.—In the East, as elsewhere—e.g., Italy (Virg. Georg., i. 84) and England—it is customary at certain seasons to burn the weeds and other refuse of a farm, which, is collected for the purpose into heaps, and then set on fire. Such fires may spread, especially in the dry East, if care be not taken, and cause extensive damage to the crops, or even the corn-heaps of a neighbour. The loss in such cases was to fall on the man who lit the fire.

Exodus 22:6. He that designed only the burning of thorns might become accessary to the burning of corn, and should not be held guiltless. If the fire did mischief, he that kindled it must answer for it, though it could not be proved that he designed the mischief. Men must suffer for their carelessness, as well as for their malice. It will make us very careful of ourselves, if we consider that we are accountable, not only for the hurt we do, but for the hurt we occasion through inadvertency.

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.Shall put in his beast, and shall feed - Rather, shall let his beast go loose, and it shall feed. 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.

He that kindled the five, whether wilfully for such a purpose, or carelessly in such a time or place as was dangerous.

He shall surely make restitution; which if he were not able to do, it is probable he was to be sold for it, as in like cases was provided.

If fire break out,.... Even though of itself, as Jarchi interprets it:

and catch in thorns a thorn hedge or fence, with which cornfields might be en closed:

so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; whether it be corn cut down, bound up in sheaves, and laid up in heaps or stacks, or whether it be yet growing, and not fully ripe, at least not cut down, or any other fruits of the field; if the fire that takes the thorns which are near them should reach to those, and kindle upon them and destroy them:

he that kindleth the fire, shall surely make restitution: that is, though he kindles the fire upon his own ground, yet being careless of it, it breaks out without his intention and design, and catches hold on a thorn hedge between him and his neighbour's field, and so spreads itself to the corn there, whether standing or in stacks, or to other fruits either lying or growing there; now, though he did not kindle the fire in the corn, and among the stacks or heaps of fruit in his neighbours field, yet, for his carelessness in not looking after the fire he had kindled in his own field, he was to make good all the damages his neighbour sustained hereby: the Jewish canons relating to this affair are these;"if a man kindles a fire by the hands of a deaf man, or a fool, or a child, he is free by human judgment, but he is bound by the judgment of heaven (that is, to make restitution); if he kindles it by the hand of a knowing and understanding man, he is bound; one brings fire and another "afterwards" brings wood, he that brings the wood is bound; one brings wood and another "afterwards" brings fire, he that brings the fire is bound; "after that", another comes and blows the flame (or fire), he is bound; "but if" the wind blows it they are all free; he that kindles fire and it consumes wood or stones, or dust, he is bound, as it is said, Exodus 22:6 "if fire break out", &c. if the fire passes over a fence four cubits high, or a public road, or a river, he is free (n);''those two things last mentioned, feeding on another man's field and fire, with the ox and the pit, observed in the preceding chapter, are with the Misnic doctors (o), the four fathers' fountains, or sources of damages.

(n) Bartenora in Misn. Gittin, c. 5. sect. 4. (o) Ib. c. 1. sect. 1.

If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.
6. Damage done by fire spreading accidentally to another man’s field. In this case compensation according to the damage done in sufficient, as no blame, or malice, attaches to the person who kindled the fire.

break out] lit. go forth (Numbers 21:28), i.e. spread from the place in which it originated—being blown, for instance, by the wind. Contrast in v. 5 let the burning spread, viz. through culpable neglect.

thorns] such as were used to form a ‘hedge’ about fields (cf. Isaiah 5:5 a, Sir 28:24).

Verse 6. - If fire break out. - It is usual in the East (as in England) to burn the weeds on a farm at certain seasons of the year. When this is done, there is always a danger, in the dry parched-up Eastern lands, of the fire spreading, and carotid watch has to be kept. If this watch were neglected, a neighbour's sheaves or standing corn might be seriously damaged or even destroyed. The law punished such carelessness, by requiring the man who had kindled the fire to make restitution.

CHAPTER 22:7-13 Exodus 22:6Exodus 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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