Thursday, March 26, 2009

EXODUS: Chapter 22

Chapter 22
Summary:Some more of God's rules:
  • If a man steals an ox or sheep and then kills or sells it, he shall pay a fine of five to one for the oxen, and four to one for the sheep. He must return five oxen for every one stolen/killed, or four sheep for every one stolen/killed.
  • If a thief is caught in the act of breaking into a house at night and is killed, then the person who killed him is not guilty. However if this happens in the daytime then it must be presumed(!) to be murder and the man who kills him is guilty.
  • If a thief is captured, he must make full restitution. If he can't, then he shall be sold as a slave for his debt.
  • If a thief is caught in the act of stealing an ox, a sheep, or a donkey, he shall pay double the value as his fine.
  • If someone lets their animals loose and they eat another man's crops, he must pay for all damages by giving the owner an equal amount of the best of his own crop.
  • If a field is being cleared by a fire that gets out of control and destroys another's crops, then the one who started the fire shall make full restitution.
  • If someone gives money or property to someone to keep for him, and it is later stolen, the thief shall pay double when he is found. If no thief is found, then the man to whom the property was entrusted to shall be brought before God to determine whether he himself has stolen his neighbor's property,
  • In every case in which an ox, donkey, sheep, clothing, or anything else is lost, and the owner believes he has found it in the possession of someone else who denies it, both parties shall come before God for a decision. The one whom God declares guilty shall pay double to the other.
  • If a man entrusts his neighbor to keep an animal for him and it dies, is hurt, or it runs away, and if there is no eye witness to report what had happened, the the neighbor must make an oath that he has not stolen it, and te owner must accept his word, and no restitution shall be made. If the animal was stolen however, the neighbor caring for it must repay the owner. If the animal was attacked by a wild animal, the neighbor shall bring the torn carcass to confirm the fact, and shall not be required to pay restitution.
  • If a man borrows an animal from a neighbor, and it is injured or killed while the owner is away, then the man who borrowed it must pay for it. If the owner is present, he need not pay. If the animal was rented, he need not pay because this possibility was included in the original rental fee.
  • If a man seduces a girl who is not engaged to anyone, and sleeps with her, he must pay the usual dowry and accept her has his wife. If the girls father refuses to let him marry her, then he must still pay the dowry anyway.
  • Witches and sorceresses must be put to death.
  • Anyone having sexual relations with an animal is to be executed.
  • Anyone sacrificing to any other gods shall be executed.
  • You must not oppress a stranger in any way; as you, the people of Israel, were foreigners in the land of Egypt.
  • You must not exploit widows or orphans; if you do, they will cry to me for help and I will surely give it. My anger shall flame out against you, and I will kill you with enemy armies, so that your wives will be widows and your children fatherless.
  • If you lend money to a fellow Hebrew, you shall handle it in the usual way, with interest. If you take his clothing as collateral for repayment, you must let him have it back at night. If you don't return it and he cries out to me for help, I will hear it and be very gracious to him, for I am compassionate.
  • You shall not blaspheme God, nor curse your government officials - your judges and your rulers.
  • You must be prompt in giving me the tithe of your crops and your wine, and the redemption payment for your firstborn son.
  • As to the firstborn of the oxen and sheep, sacrifice it on the eighth day, after leaving it with its mother for seven days.
  • Do not eat any animal that has been attacked and killed by a wild animal. Leave its carcass for the dogs to eat.
Thoughts:This chapter mostly deals with God's laws about property with some troubling ways to judge them. The first rule requires either a four to one (for sheep) or a five to one (for oxen) repayment for stolen and/or killed animals. Although excessive, it seems to serve reasonably more as a deterrent.

However our next rule is where we start running into trouble. If a man defending his home from burglary kills the thief at night, then all is okay, no punishment needed; however, if the burglary occurs in the daytime then the homeowner must be presumed to be a murderer. I find this extremely hard to accept that when dealing with a man's life - as the punishment for murder is execution - that we should "presume" someone's guilt. God however, sees it cut and dry and seems to think that there is no justifiable reason to kill a thief in the daylight, even if the thief may be possibly threatening the homeowner's life.

Now if we catch the thief alive, he's either got to pay restitution, or he will be sold into slavery.

The next few rules concern animal and property damage, which seem reasonable enough.

Next up however, if we have a dispute over two neighbors possibly stealing property with the neighbor professing innocence, now God himself has to judge them. Here, it comes down to your belief system on how you view this, if you believe in God, and that he has the ability and that he actually will judge earthly matters, then I can understand you seeing this is as "fair". However, when we look back at history to the atrocities of witch burnings, which were also supposedly judged by God, but that we now realize were more about paranoid people putting many innocent people to death without justification, then I think we can perceive the problem here. How do we know how God judges these things, and how can we be sure that these are judgments from God and not just the paranoid will of man? Unless God makes himself known, such as in his guise of a talking burning bush, I think we have the right to be skeptical of following anyone's inner-voice communication in prayer to God.

A few rules later, we have another questionable line referring to what to do if a man seduces an unmarried and unengaged girl. If he has sex with her, then he has just "married" her, and has to pay the family a dowry. The girl's father can forbid and effectively cancel the marriage, but the father still gets to keep the dowry. Being that rape is a very hard thing to prove, even in our modern day, a rapist very well could easily snag himself a wife in this fashion - leaving a rape victim bound to her attacker via marriage.

God now shows us his intolerance for "witches" and "sorceresses", as well as to people performing animal sacrifices for any other God besides Yahweh - they're all to be put to death. This also goes for those who practice bestiality, that's a stoning too.

God now warns people not to take advantage of widows or orphans, or he will personally see to it that enemy armies will come and destroy you, leaving your wife and kids without a husband and father.

If you take collateral of someone's clothing on a loan, then you'd better let them have it back at night or else God will show favor on the indebted party.

Not only is blaspheming God a problem, but this also applies to judges and rulers. God apparently frowns on the Rush Limbaughs and Michael Moores of the time. Although not specifically stated, I'm sure the punishment is most likely a stoning for criticizing your leaders.

Next, God reminds the people to be prompt in their crop and animal sacrifices, and that firstborn animals get to stay and live with their mothers for a week before being violently slaughtered for God.

Lastly, God tells the Hebrew people that they are not to eat any animal that has been killed by wild animals, that's apparently dog food.

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