If a man be found stealing any of his brothers of the children of Israel, and makes merchandise of him, or sells him…
We have already noticed the merciful fugitive law which forbade any one to restore a runaway to his master. That was the cure of existing evil. Here we have the prevention, which is better still. For man-stealing and man-selling are the origin of slavery, and the Lord attaches to this the penalty of death. As Cheerer said of it, "God be praised for this law! It strikes through and through the vitals of this sin."
I. LIBERTY MUST BE MAINTAINED UNDER THE PENAL SANCTION OF DEATH TO HIM WHO INVADES IT. The ruffian who would steal and sell a brother deserves to die. His treason against the liberty of his fellow is an unpardonable sin against society, and he should get no quarter. No wonder men have fought and died for liberty when God surrounds it with such tremendous sanctions.
II. HOW MUCH GREATER THE CRIME OF BRINGING MEN INTO SPIRITUAL BONDAGE. And this is done daily. What is the meaning of the power exercised by superstitious priesthoods over their devotees? Is it not "spiritual despotism?" And should not the crime of man-stealing awake a suspicion in such hearts that their procedure is the exact analogue in the spiritual sphere? It should be combated and resisted unto the death, as destroying that heritage of liberty with which the Lord has endowed all men. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you.
WEB: If a man be found stealing any of his brothers of the children of Israel, and he deal with him as a slave, or sell him; then that thief shall die: so you shall put away the evil from the midst of you.