Exodus 22 Commentary
Restitution is defined. If the offender has nothing, the law demanded that they be sold into slavery. So we see that slaves were not always poor or ordinary people who could not sustain themselves. Thieves who could not pay the penalty fee would be sold. A law to free this type of slave (as seen in chapter 21) is a clear indication of the LORD’S unsurpassed compassion.
Slavery was a form of prison for thieves. Among many other purposes, slavery also served as a labor hire commercial operation. This understanding is important as it enables us to resolve apparent contradictions. The Bible clearly forbade one from enslaving a fellow Israelite. But here we have an instruction to force a thief into slavery. What we have here is another type of slavery. Generally the LORD forbade the type of slavery similar to the one Israel experienced in Egypt. Each type of allowable slavery had rules to ensure godliness.
The subject of slavery is important for the saint today because it reminds us of our freedom from the slavery of sin. We can experience this freedom even today. You can seek help
In many societies today the bride price is based on the same principles as the ones we find in this chapter. A man paid damage fee if he slept with a virgin without marrying her. More social laws follow. Again we can see that the LORD has interest in our relationships. But that isn’t all. What has the LORD to do with a man or woman having sexual relations with an animal? No man is harmed; no woman is harmed. The world calls this a sin against the order of nature. All sin is actually sin against the order of nature – against creation as desired and designed by the LORD. All sin is sin against the LORD.
While most social laws are meant to ensure fair treatment of less privileged people, it is God’s interest in these laws and the people affected that becomes important. Overcharging interest will make one businessman happy and make another sad but it’s the reaction of the LORD which is important here. What we do or do not do to others affects God. This picture is fully blown in the NT when the LORD says, *“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’*
Matthew 25 verse 40
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