Exodus 22:8
If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought to the judges, to see whether he have put his hand to his neighbor's goods.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) To see whether he have put his hand.—Kalisch translates, to swear that he has not put his hand, and so the LXX. (καὶ δμεῖται) and Vulg. (et jurabit quod non extenderit manum).

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.It would appear that if the master of the house would clear himself of imputation, the loss of the pledged article fell upon its owner. 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.

That they may examine all circumstances, and use all means to find out the truth, by offering him his oath, or otherwise.

Unto his neighbour’s goods; either to take and reserve them for his own use, or to dispose of them to another for his own advantage. If the thief be not found,.... And so no account can be given of the goods deposited, what is become of them, and it becomes a doubtful case whether they have been stolen or embezzled, and there is suspicion of the latter:

then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges: here called Elohim, gods, because they were God's vicegerents, and represented him, and acted under his power and authority; and who at this present were Moses, and those that judged the people under him, and afterwards the seventy elders, and all such who in succeeding times were judges in Israel, and bore the office of civil magistrates; before these the master of the house, or the person who had any goods committed to his care, and they were lost, was to be brought and put to his oath, and upon it examined, in order to find out what was become of the goods committed to him: to see whether he has put his hand to his neighbour's goods: took them to himself, made use of them, or disposed of them to his own advantage, and which was no other than a kind of theft.

If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges, to see whether he have {d} put his hand unto his neighbour's goods.

(d) That is, whether he has stolen.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. unto God] i.e. to the local sanctuary. On the term ‘God,’ here and v. 9, and the paraphrase ‘the judges’ (marg.), see on Exodus 21:6 and Exodus 18:15. To judge by the analogy of v. 11, a denial on oath was sufficient for an acquittal. Comp. 1 Kings 8:31-32.Verse 8. - If the thief be not found. - It is not clear what was to be done in this case. Kalisch supposes that it came under the law of the oath (ver. 10), and that if the man entrusted with the deposit swore that he had not embezzled it, he was let go free. But as stolen cattle were to be compensated for to the owner (ver. 12), it would seem to be more consistent that stolen money or chattels should also have been made good. Into the midst of the laws relating to theft, we have one introduced here, prescribing what was to be done with the thief. "If the thief be found breaking in (i.e., by night according to Exodus 22:3), and be smitten so that he die, there shall be no blood to him (the person smiting him); if the sun has risen upon him (the thief breaking in), there is blood to him:" i.e., in the latter case the person killing him drew upon himself blood-guiltiness (דּמים lit., drops of blood, blood shed), in the former case he did not. "The reason for this disparity between a thief by night and one in the day is, that the power and intention of a nightly thief are uncertain, and whether he may not have come for the purpose of committing murder; and that by night, if thieves are resisted, they often proceed to murder in their rage; and also that they can neither be recognised, nor resisted and apprehended with safety" (Calovius). In the latter case the slayer contracted blood-guiltiness, because even the life of a thief was to be spared, as he could be punished for his crime, and what was stolen be restored according to the regulations laid down in Exodus 22:1 and Exodus 22:4. But if he had not sufficient to make retribution, he was to be sold "for his stolen," i.e., for the value of what he had stolen, that he might earn by his labour the compensation to be paid.
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