Exodus 22:7 MEANING

Exodus 22:7
(7-13) Property deposited in the hands of another for safe keeping might be so easily embezzled by the trustee, or lost through his negligence, that some special laws were needed for its protection. Conversely the trustee required to be safe-guarded against incurring loss if the property intrusted to his care suffered damage or disappeared without fault of his. The Mosaic legislation provided for both cases. On the one hand, it required the trustee to exercise proper care, and made him answerable for the loss if a thing intrusted to him was stolen and the thief not found. Embezzlement it punished by requiring the trustee guilty of it to "pay double." On the other hand, in doubtful cases it allowed the trustee to clear himself by an oath (Exodus 22:10), and in clear cases to give proof that the loss had happened through unavoidable accident (Exodus 22:12).

(7) If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep.--The practice of making deposits of this kind was widespread among ancient communities, where there were no professional bankers or keepers of warehouses. The Greeks called such a deposit ????????????. It was usually made in money, or at any rate in the precious metals. A refusal to restore the thing deposited was very rare, since a special nemesis was considered to punish such conduct (Herod, vii. 86). However, at Athens it was found necessary to have a peculiar form of action for the recovery of deposits (????????????? ????).

Verses 7-13. - LAW OF DEPOSITS. - Deposition of property in the hands of a friend, to keep and guard, was a marked feature in the life of primitive societies, where investments were difficult, and bankers unknown. Persons about to travel, especially merchants, were wont to make such a disposition of the greater part of their movable property, which required some one to guard it in their absence. Refusals to return such deposits were rare; since ancient morality regarded such refusal as a crime of deep dye (Herod. 7:86). Sometimes, however, they took place; and at Athens there was a special form of action which might be brought in such cases called παρακαταθήκης δίκη. The penalty, if a man were east in the suit, was simple restitution, which is less satisfactory than the Mosaic enactment - "He shall pay double" (ver. 9). Verse 7. - Stuff. - Literally "vessels" - but the word is used in a very wide sense, of almost any inanimate movables.

22; 1 - 31 Judicial laws. - The people of God should ever be ready to show mildness and mercy, according to the spirit of these laws. We must answer to God, not only for what we do maliciously, but for what we do heedlessly. Therefore, when we have done harm to our neighbour, we should make restitution, though not compelled by law. Let these scriptures lead our souls to remember, that if the grace of God has indeed appeared to us, then it has taught us, and enabled us so to conduct ourselves by its holy power, that denying ungodliness and wordly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, Titus 2:12. And the grace of God teaches us, that as the Lord is our portion, there is enough in him to satisfy all the desires of our souls.If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stock to keep,.... Without any reward for keeping it, as the Targum of Jonathan; and so other Jewish writers (p) understand this passage of such as keep a deposit freely, having nothing for it; whether it be money or goods, gold, silver, jewels, raiment, household stuff or any kind of vessels or instruments used in the house, or in trade; and also cattle, as appears from Exodus 22:9.

and if it be stolen out of the man's house; into whose custody it was delivered:

if the thief be found, let him pay double: the worth of what is stolen, agreeably to the law in Exodus 22:4 that is, if it was found in his hands; but if he had disposed of it, then he was to pay five fold or four fold, as in Exodus 22:1, and so runs the Jewish canon (q),"if anyone delivers to his neighbour a beast or vessels, and they are stolen or lost, he shall make restitution; but if he will not swear, for they say, one that keeps for nothing, may swear and be free; then if the thief should be found he shall pay double; if he has killed or sold, he shall pay four fold or five fold: to whom shall he pay? to him with whom the depositum is: if he swears, and will not pay, and the thief is found, he shall pay double; if he has killed or sold he shall pay four fold and five fold: to whom shall he pay? to the owner of the depositum.''

(p) Jarchi in ver. 10. Bartenora in Misn. Shebuot, c. 6. sect. 5. (q) Misn. Bava Metzia, c. 3. sect. 1.

Courtesy of Open Bible