Today we begin Exodus Chapter 22.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James version, click here.
“If a thief caught in the act of breaking in
is beaten to death,
it is not murder;
unless it happens after sunrise,
in which case it is murder.”
Exodus Chapter 22 is a continuation of the rulings and precepts being given to Israel from Chapter 21.
Again, keep in mind that the Scriptures as they were originally given did NOT have chapter and verse divisions.
And depending on which Bible translation you use, in some cases the first verse of Exodus chapter 22 is the last verse of Exodus Chapter 21.
It doesn’t matter.
We’re dealing with the same context here.
The primary theme being expounded on here is protection against theft of property.
I am always impressed with how the wisdom of the Lord takes into account certain key differences of a same situation.
For instance, notice that if you catch a thief in the act during the nighttime and kill him on the spot, it is NOT considered murder.
However, if you kill a thief stealing your stuff during the daytime, it is murder.
The point is that when it is dark, it is impossible to evaluate the overall situation.
Is there more than one thief?
Is the thief carrying a lethal weapon?
Is this some famous murderer currently at large?
You can’t assess all this when it’s dark.
However, during the daytime, it is reasonably possible to determine whether you are only in danger of losing your belongings or whether your life might also be in danger.
When it is clear that your life was NOT in danger and you still kill the thief, then it is to be considered as murder.
Now it is for a couple of reasons that I think every country on earth would be better off adopting the Mosaic Covenant as a way of dealing with a thief.
In other words, according to the Mosaic Covenant, if a thief is caught, he has to replace what he stole several times over.
And if he fails to do this, he can be taken into custody and sold as a slave with the money handed over to the victim who was robbed.
Of course, I’m not suggesting we go back to slavery, but such a ruling would definitely stem the epidemic of burglaries that plague our society.
I’m saying a person would think twice before stealing if he knew he would have to spend a good portion of his life compensating his victims.
Now what’s interesting to note is that when we carefully study the Torah, we find that imprisonment was just not a part of God’s justice system.
Of course, I’m aware that it would be difficult to build and manage a prison out in the wilderness which is where the Israelites were at this point in time.
But having said that, the idea of COMPENSATION for the victim instead of INCARCERATION for the offender continued right on up until the time of Yeshua.
The simple truth of the matter is that the concept of prison was abhorrent to the Jews.
Because it was a heathen way of dealing with crime and punishment.
Yes, it is true that the Jews eventually did adopt the practice of throwing criminals into prison.
But it was NEVER part of God’s Torah-ordained justice system and as a result it was rarely used.
Here’s the truth about our prison system (in the US).
It has never really been effective in reducing the tidal wave of crime that has swept our nation.
In fact, the opposite has occurred.
It is precisely those people who have already served time that today commit the majority of crimes.
Even attempts to rehabilitate prisoners via education and schooling during their incarceration have not been successful.
The reason why is simple.
That is not how God created the universe to operate.
According to God’s justice system, the best way to rehabilitate a criminal is to have him compensate his victim, NOT throw him in prison.
That is why I feel WITHOUT EXCEPTION every country in the world should adopt the Mosaic Covenant when it comes to dealing with thieves.
Actually, come to think of it, when Yeshua returns, the whole world will be under the Mosaic Covenant.
One final point.
When studying the Torah, it is important to notice God’s priorities when it comes to ordering things.
When it comes to theft, we can see that from God’s perspective, animal life has a higher value than crops or plant life.
Again, at this time in the wilderness, Israel were herdsmen, not farmers.
However, once they entered the Land of Canaan, they would also need laws governing agricultural matters.