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and shall feed in another man's field ; of the best of his own field, and of the best of his own vineyard, shall he make restitution. This was very proper, considering their circumstan. ces in the wilderne88.
If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed [therewith ;] he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.
This was designed to make them watchful and cautious, especially with 80 dangerous an element. 7 If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to
keep, on trust, and for no reward, but out of friendship, and it be stolen out of the man's house ; if the thief be found, let
him pay double. 8 If the thief be not found, then the master of the house
shall be brought unto the judges, [to see] whether he have
put his hand unto his neighbour's goods, or was any way acce889 ary to the loss of them. For all manner of trespass about matters
deposited upon trust, and lost, (whether it be] for ox, for ass, for
come before the judges ; [and] whom the judges shall con10 demn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour. If a man de
liver unto his neighbour for hire, an ass, or an ox, or a sheep,
or any beast, to keep ; and it die, or be hurt, or driven away, 11 no man seeing [it:] [Then) shall an oath of the LORD be
between them both, there shall be a solemn appeal to God, that he hath not put his hand unto his neighbour's goods, to injure
or destroy them ; and the owner of it shall accept (thereof,] 12 and he shall not make [it] good. And if it be stolen from
him, through his neglect, he shall make restitution into the 13 owner thereof. If it be torn in pieces, (then) let him bring
some part or limb of it (for) witness,* [and] he shall not
make good that which was torn. 14 And if a man borrow (aught) any beast of his neighbour,
and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof [being] not with it, 15 he shall surely make [it] good. But, if the owner thereof
[be] with it, and was careful about it, he shall not make [it] good : if it [be] an hired [thing,] it came for his hire, and he
shall pay that and no more. 16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie 17 with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. If her
father utterly refuse to give lier unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins, according to his estate and circumstances, as duwries used to be given with maids of like condition.
• Or, as ancient versions reader it. He shall bring a witness to prove that come wild heast was thereabouts, or, that he had always been careful about it in ime past.
18 Thou shalt not suffer a witch, a person who pretends to
have commerce with evil spirits, to live.* 19 Whosoever lieth with a beast, shall surely be put to death, 20 He that sacrificeth unto (any) god, save unto the LORD
only, he shall be utterly destroyed, be under a solemn execra.
tion, and be put to death.t 21 Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him,
neither reproach nor taunt him, nor oppress him in his dealings,
but let him live peaceably among you : for ye were strangers 22 in the land of Egypt. Ye shall not aflict any widow or fa
therless child, shall give them no trouble in thought, word, or 23 deed, in this their helpless condition. If thou aflict them in
any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their 24 cry, and plead their cause; And my wrath shall wax hot, and I
will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall be widows,
and your children fatherless. 25 If thou lend money to (any of] my people (that is) poor
by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury. I This was designed to promote love
and benevolence among them. 26 If thou at all take thy neighbour's raiment that is poor to
pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down : For that [is] his covering only, it [is] his raiment for his skin, his bedquilt or coverlet ; wherein shall he sleep? the want of it may endanger his health, or his life : and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear ; for I (am) gracious, and would have you be like me,
Thou shalt not revile the gods, or judges, nor curse the ruler of thy people, not speak evil of them falsely, or expose them to the contempt of the peuple ; not breed divisions, or stir
up sedition. 29 Thou shalt not delay beyond the time appointed to offer]
the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors, thy wine and oil :
the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me, that is, 30 the firice of their redemption. Likewise shalt thou do with thine
oxen, [and] with thy sheep: seven days it shall be with his
dam ; on the eighth day thou shalt give it me. 31 And ye shall be holy men unto me, shall lead holier lives
Whether there was any thing real in their pretensions or not, they were justly pun. ished, because they were a kind of idolaters, and paid that honour to evil spirits which was due only to God. It is most probable that it was all a cheat and juggle ; but in this view they were punishable.
God was in an extraordinary manner their king and governor ; idolaters were his rivals : to have tolerated them would have defeated the end for which they were separated from other nations ; it would have been encouraging rebellion ; and therefore they were as justly punished, as traitors in other countries.
Usury, or interest for money, is not unlawful in itself. There is no reason why a man may not take money for the use of money, as well as for oxen, horses, or land. The Jews might do this freon strangers, but not from their poor neighbours and brethren, i VOL. I.
than others : neither shall ye eat [any) flesh (that is) torm of beasts in the field, because there was blood in it, and to teach them to abhor cruelty ; ye shall cast it to the dogs. We are not concerned in many of these laws, but the chapter effords us the following
1. I T should be our care to avoid the occasion of undesigned
I mischief; this people seldom think of. If a man injures, his neighbour carelessly, he is chargeable with guilt in the sight of God. Persons are apt to make light of imprudences ; but it becomes us to be cautious, to be tender of our neighbour's prop erty and reputation, and to walk circumspectly.
2. It is of the greatest importance, that we keep up a reverence for an oath. The want of this is one of the crying sins of our land, it is a national iniquity. Nothing is more common than for persons to forswear themselves on almost any occasion. An oath before a magistrate is lawful ; but should always be taken with the greatest seriousness. Let us lament that oaths are so much trifled with in our country. Appealing to God is a most solemn thing; and our brethren in Scotland are worthy of praise, where oaths are administered with the greatest seriousness and solemnity, and so are most likely to answer the end designed by them.
3. Let us learn to be gentle and compassionate to all, especa ially to the afflicted and distressed. Gentle to servants, not treating them hardly for a mischance, as if it were a fault, and make them accountable for what they could not help. v. 10, 11. If a man deliver to his neighbour an ass, or an ox, or a sheep, or any beast, to keep ; and it die, or be hurt, or driven away, no man seeing it: then shall an oath of the Lord be between theme both, that he hath not put his hand unto his neighbour's goods and the owner of it shall accept thereof, and he shall not make it good. There are some accidents, which the greatest care cannot prevent. Let us also learn to be compassionate to strangers : the reason which is too often given for not pitya ing and relieving them is, “because they are strangers ; we do not know who they are ;' but this is a reason why we should show compassion. The motive urged opon Israel, is equally binding upon us. We were once strangers and foreigners, but now fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the houschold of God. Let us sympathize with, and help the fatherless and the widow. It is not sufficient that we do not oppress them ; we should pity, and relieve them. God is the father of the fatherless, and the judge of the widow : he will plead their cause, and hear their cry. Learn therefore to value their prayers ; for, on the same principk, if they pray for, and recommend their benefactors
to the divine blessing, God will hear them. Let us guard against biting usury, as the word signifies in v. 25. that is, extortion ; taking pledges, where we should give and lend freely; keeping them beyond the proper time ; exacting more than the bargain, or demanding more than is just and equitable. All these are scandalous things, and the anger of God waxeth hot against such cruel oppressors : they shall have judgment without mercy, who have showed no mercy.
4. Let us maintain the honour of rulers, and not be forward in censuring and reviling them. Sometimes indeed, their conduct may be so wrong, that we cannot help seeing it. Let us lament it before God in prayer, especially their immorality, and entreat that he would give them a better mind. It does not become us to revile them; that would be doing mischief, and be apt to spread dissension and clamour. This petulant spirit, of rashly censuring every measure of government, is a great fault in the present day ; but be it far from us. God hath honoured magistrates by his own name ; he hath called them gods; and invested them with part of his authority. Let us show that we fear God, by honouring the king, and being subject to magistrates, not only for wrath, but conscience sake ; and not increase their burdens, which are heavy enough already, and which all their honours and profits cannot balance.
5. Let young people give God the prime of their days without delay. This is intimated by his requiring the first ripe fruits, v. 29. God's soul discerns this, and is particularly pleased with it ; therefore they should devote their time and strength to his service, whose they are, and whom they ought to serve ; and do it immediately, lest their hearts be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Let God, who is the best of beings, be served with our best ; and let us all learn to glorify him with our bodies and our spirits, which are his.
CHAP. XXIII. .
The political laws respecting slander and false witness ; the sabbath;
idolatry ; and a blessing promised to the obedient. I T HOU shalt not raise or receive a false report, shalt not
1 go by hearsay evidence, nor give credit to every idle report : put not thine hand, do not conspire or agree with the wicked, to be an unrighteous witness.
Thou shalt not follow a multitude, the great men, either their counsel or example, to [do] evil ; neither shalt thou
speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest (judgment, ] 3 not give false judgment because the many do 80: Neither
shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause ; but do right, without respect of persons,
4 If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass, or any other beast,
going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. $ If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his
burden, and wouldst forbear to help him, or, wouldst thou cease to help him ? thou shalt surely help with him ; though he be at difference with thee, yet join with him to help the beast : 80 shalt thou oblige thine enemy, and dispose him to reconciliation.
Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause, not otipress or injure a poor man, because he is poor, nor 7 deny him common justice. Keep thee far from a false matter;
and the innocent and righteous slay thou not, and for the same reason inflict no other punishment on them ; for I will not justify the wicked, that is, wicked judges ; though they may escape
in this world, I will judge them in another, severely and openly. 8 And thou shalt take no gift, not only no bribe, but no gifts of
presents of any kind ; for the gift blindeth the wise, corrupts the judgment, that it cannot or will not discern between right
and wrong, and perverteth the words of the righteous, makes 9 good men pass a wrong sentence.* Also thou shalt not oppress
a stranger : for ve know the heart of a stranger, their dejection
and distress, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. 10 And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in 11 the fruits thereof: But the seventh [year] thou shalt let it
rest and lie still ; not so much that it may get strength, as to teach you that both yourselves and your land are God's ! that the poor of thy people may eat whatever grows of itself from the seed that was scattered the last plentiful years :t and then all, both poor and rich, may have time to study and hear the law, which was then to be read in a solemn manner to all the people ; and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, [and] with thy oliveyard, thou shall leave the produce of them for the poor. But lest they should think that the weekly rest was to cease on that year, the command is renewed.
Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest : that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the
son of thy handmaid, and the stranger may be refreshed. I 13 And in all [things] that I have said unto you be circum.
spect : and make no mention of the name of other gods, nei. ther let it be heard out of thy mouth ; endeavour entirely to forget them, lest ye be seduced by them.
• The Roman and Grecian laws agreed in this, that judges should accept no gift or prese cht, but their settled salary only.
+ It is to be remembered, that is the sixth year, their land was to bring forth enough for that year, and the vear of rest, and the next year after that, till the new corn was ripe. This Moses foretold, and it ws a convincing proof of the divine authority of his law ; for nothing could have been more imprudent in human policy, than to hive left the ground fallow every seventh year, with such a promise of plenty beforehand, if he had not had divine authority for doing it.
There were three sorts of sabbaths or times of rest to the Jews; weekly, every sevAnth year, and the jubilee, every fiftieth year.