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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Exodus 22

Verses 1-4

Regulations in Case of Theft

A theft – here we are in the application of the eighth commandment – is considered on a case by case basis. Some differences are made. In case of theft and slaughter or resale, five or four times (2 Samuel 12:6; Luke 19:8) must be paid, depending on the animal that has been stolen. If the animal is still alive in the thief’s possession, the thief must give double as compensation.

We see here that theft does not make someone richer, but poorer. Unlawfully obtained profit means the loss of one’s own property. This can also be applied spiritually. Every man who lives to receive honor from men steals that honor from God to Whom all honor is due. He who lives to be honored by men will lose his human dignity.

The law also makes a difference between theft during the day and theft at night. It is assumed that the thief will break in at night. If he is caught and killed, the one who killed him will go free. In this case, the thief loses not only what he would have stolen and the compensation he would have to pay, but also his life.

However, if the thief works during the day and is caught and killed, the one who killed him will not go unpunished. It is assumed that it is not necessary to kill a thief during the day. You can then call for help. But in the night, everyone sleeps and the situation is incalculable. This rule shows that even the life of a thief cannot be taken for granted. We must not act out of revenge. The judgment on a crime must be established by the judge.

The great contrast of compensation in case of theft is the Lord Jesus. He has given back to God through His work on the cross what He has not robbed: the honor of God (Psalms 69:5). Therefore, for all eternity, He will receive the honor He is worth and is due to Him.

Verses 5-6

Special Forms of Expropriation

In Exodus 22:5 there is a case of acting intentionally. Someone steals the fruit of someone else’s land to feed his own cattle and thereby spare the fruit of his own land. Here another is deliberately disadvantaged in order not to have to suffer any loss himself. However, the compensation means that he must give the best part of his own field or vineyard to the injured party. It is therefore important to keep control of one’s own property and not to let it be detrimental to others. It is always spiritually important that we use our gifts for the good of others and not to harm them.

In Exodus 22:6 it does not seem that someone acting intentionally. It is about someone who sets fire to burn thorn bushes. However, he does not hold the fire under control. It becomes a blazing fire, whereby standing grain from another person’s field is consumed by the fire. The compensation consists of a full payment of the value of what has been lost.

As a spiritual application we can think of the following. A fire represents judgment. Thorn bushes are a consequence of sin. If sin reveals itself, it must be judged. It may happen that the judgment of sin in the church, an act of discipline, is carried out too far. Discipline must be applied, but if it has achieved its objective, it must also be lifted.

If someone repents and the discipline is not lifted, then someone is wrongly denied the blessing of the community. He cannot, so to speak, take pleasure in the fruits of the land. If discipline has reached its goal, it must be eliminated, that such a one might not “be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (2 Corinthians 2:7). The compensation to be given is “to reaffirm [your] love for him” (2 Corinthians 2:8).

In a personal application we can think of people who are frantic by nature. They are ready to intervene immediately when sin occurs. It is indeed good to intervene then. But because of their frantic nature they sometimes go too far and condemn the whole person. In this way they also eradicate the wheat with the weeds. Then they have to confess their wrong or excessive approach and accept the other again with the good that is in him too.

Verses 7-13

Properties Given to Keep

If something is entrusted to us, we are responsible for ensuring that it is not stolen. Custody is a matter of trust. If it is stolen, the thief, if found, will have to pay double the amount. There is not only restitution, but also compensation for the shock and inconvenience, while the thief must experience that theft is punished.

If the thief is not found, there is suspicion on him to whom the money or good has been entrusted. The judges shall take the oath against him. By taking the oath, the suspicion is removed.

Much has been given us, believers, in ward. Timothy was instructed to keep the premises entrusted to him (1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:14; cf. Ezra 8:24-Nahum :). If we have lost something that has been entrusted to us, for example our peace, we must look for the ‘thief’. We may have allowed something into our lives that has made us lose sight of the Lord.

It may also be that our worship has disappeared – of which the ox speaks. It may be that we are no longer serving – the donkey speaks of service. Or we have lost our behavior as Christians – the garment represents the outward behavior that people see of us. If it is found, it is replaced in double. Christians who have wandered astray and are back on the right path, will commit themselves with double zeal to the Lord.

Verses 14-15

Borrowed Things

What is lent has to do with the confidence of the owner in him to whom he lends it to. The issue is: how does he deal with this confidence. Something you borrow is about using something you miss yourself, but need.

We may use what has been entrusted to another, but not misuse it. This applies both materially and spiritually. We must always be aware that we have received everything we have on loan: “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).

Verses 16-17

Lie with a Virgin

This is an elaboration of the seventh commandment. An unmarried girl falls under the care of her father. If someone sleeps with her, that is, if he seduces her to sexual intercourse, he is obliged to marry her, unless the father refuses to give her to him. In any case, a dowry has to be paid. A general lesson is that parents may not be passed over while arranging a marriage.

We also see here that sexual intercourse is not without consequences. The girl has lost her honor and will therefore be more difficult to marry. The man who seduced her has to pay a full dowry. He too must realize that he has committed a sin by doing something that only belongs within marriage.

Verses 18-20

Sins of Apostacy

Sorcery (Exodus 22:18) and idolatry (Exodus 22:20) originate from the world of occultism, the world of the devil. Anyone guilty of this must pay for it with the loss of his life. These horrible sins are direct rebellion against God. It is an open defying of His absolute rights to the worship of man and certainly of His people. In several places in the Scriptures God’s people are warned to stay away from them (Leviticus 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:10). Saul has not taken any notice of this commandment (1 Samuel 28:7-2 Samuel :).

Between these two forms of occultism is a warning against communion with an animal (Exodus 22:19). The fact that God’s people must be warned against this disgusting expression of fellowship indicates that they are capable of it.

In a spiritual sense we see this sin in Revelation 13, which speaks of an animal from the sea, a political power (Revelation 13:1), and an animal from the abyss, a religious power (Revelation 13:11). Both animals are inspired by satan. Occultism will reach its height in these animals. Many of those who count themselves among the people of God will bow before them and testify of their fellowship with them (Revelation 17:3; Revelation 17:11-1 Chronicles :).

Verses 21-27

Foreigner, Widow, Orphan and Poor

Here the mercy of God radiates toward the weak in society. God stands up for them (Psalms 146:9). It is not a social program for global improvement or a call to work for asylum seekers. It is about reflecting God’s mercy, something that can only happen through His people.

Because the Israelites have been foreigners in Egypt, they must be able to imagine what it is like to be a foreigner living in their midst. That should make them merciful towards them. In the same way believers must have compassion with people in the world because they used to belong to it. A haughty attitude towards the lowest sunken person does not suit a believer.

God is particularly concerned about the fate of the widow or orphan. To oppress them is pure exploitation and abuse of power. God hears their call of help and will avenge them according to the law of retribution.

Loaning money to a compatriot is allowed, but without calculating interest. It must be an act of mercy. Earning from the poverty of the compatriot betrays heartlessness.

If someone is so poor that he even has to pledge his garment, the garment must be returned to him in the evening. His poverty and then nudity evoke feelings of grace in God. God wants us to learn to share in His feelings.

Verse 28

Attitude Towards Government

The government – the judges or the judiciary – may not be cursed (cf. Proverbs 10:20). If that happens, it is rebellion against the competent God-given authority (Romans 13:1-Exodus :). Such an attitude is a characteristic of the apostasy of the Christian faith (Jude 1:8). God wants the citizen to acknowledge and submit to the competent authority. Paul is mistaken in this and must apologize, which he does by quoting of this verse (Acts 23:4-Deuteronomy :).

Verses 29-30

The First Fruits

In giving the first fruits of the land, God’s right to the land is recognized. The people are warned not to withhold anything from it. The temptation to keep what is due to God to oneself has been ingrained in man by sin.

The firstborn belong to the LORD, and in them all the people. The same applies to the livestock.

Verse 31

Flesh Torn to Pieces

Here God makes the great distinction between His people and the peoples around them. He has set His people apart for Himself. That they are his people is manifested above all in what they eat or don’t eat. Here the emphasis is on what they should not eat. Holy people do not eat food that is linked to violence. Such food is for the unclean dogs, who have no sense of holiness.

Believers should not feed on things to which clearly adheres the corruption of the world. The world has programs to watch and to be spiritually nourished by, from which the believers – holy men, these are for God separated people – must keep a great distance.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Exodus 22". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/exodus-22.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.