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God's law; Your neighbour's goods

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posted on Jan, 24 2014 @ 05:03 PM
The social laws of the Pentateuch were not designed for the modern world,
They were clearly designed for a different kind of world, a mainly agricultural society.
But since they were published in the name of the Biblical God, they can still throw light on his nature and intentions.
Which gives us a new reason for reading this collection even if the laws themselves have been superseded.

Let’s take, for example, what God’s law says about your neighbour’s goods and animals.
Of course the fundamental principle is declared in the ten commandments- “You shall not steal”.
You shall not even covet.

The practical application of the principle, as part of the legal code, comes In the following chapters.
Things of value would not be carried around much, so most laws are about theft from the home or stolen livestock

A man who breaks into another man’s house, in the middle of the night, will not be protected from the consequences.
If he is killed in the course of events, “there shall be no blood-guilt for him”.
This law recognises the fact that a man whose house is attacked in the hours of darkness has no practical option but to strike out blindly.
This is an emergency, and his life may be at stake.
The case is different in the hours of daylight, when the householder can see what he’s doing.
In those circumstances, when he can restrain the intruder without killing him, the intruder’s death will not be free from “bloodguilt”. Exodus ch22 vv2-3

When theft has been carried out, the goods must be restored, if possible, and further compensation must be paid.
In the case of a stolen animal, the penalty is very heavy.
“If a man steals an ox or a sheep and kills it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep”.
(Zacchaeus, in the gospel story, was offering compensation for his frauds on the “oxen” level of the scale)
Even if the animal is recovered alive, “he shall pay double”, as compensation for the trouble caused.
I take this to mean “the original animal and one more”.
And if he cannot give restitution to these levels, because he doesn’t own enough in his own right, “then he shall be sold for his theft”. Exodus ch22 vv1-3
The severity of the penalties reflects the fact that these animals are the farmer’s food-source or livelihood.
If you take away a poor man’s animal, then you undermine his means of existence.

Other laws deal with goods which are being kept in safe custody in a neighbour’s house (perhaps because the other man’s house is more secure).
If the goods go missing, there are two obvious possibilities.
The householder himself is responsible, or a third party.
If there’s a thief who can be identified, then he pays the standard penalty of “double” restitution.
Otherwise the other possibility must be tested.
“The owner of the house shall come near to God”, and if God shall “condemn” him, by showing some sign that he is the guilty party, then he pays the double restitution himself. Exodus ch21 vv7-9
There are many examples, in the histories, of God giving answers to “Yes or no?” questions, so this would probably be by the same method.

If the property is an animal, and suffers a misadventure of some kind, then the householder need not be liable.
That is, if the animal dies or is hurt.
Or if the animal “is driven away without anyone seeing it”- in other words, it is “stolen or strayed”, but nobody knows which.
These things happen.
It will be sufficient if the householder gives his oath that he was not responsible, and the oath will be accepted.
Similarly if the animal is killed by a wild beast.
These things happen, and the householder need only prove it by producing the mangled corpse.
But if the animal is positively known to be stolen, then the householder, again, must make restitution. Exodus ch21 vv10-13
That may be because it is very difficult to escape observation while taking away a living ox or sheep.
You can’t exactly hide it under your robe.
So a stolen animal implies, at the very least, that the keepers have not been vigilant.

If you borrow an animal, to help in your ploughing, and the animal dies or is injured in the course of the work, a different set of laws applies.
Who pays for the loss?
That depends. Did you just hire the animal by itself, or the animal together with its owner?
If the owner was not present, and the animal was in your keeping, you must pay him compensation.
But if the owner himself was on the scene, the safety of the animal was his own responsibility;
“If the owner was with it, [the borrower] shall not make restitution; if it was hired, it came for its hire”- Exodus ch22 vv14-15

Apart from not stealing your neighbour’s animals, you have an obligation to help him look after them-
“You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep go astray and withhold your help from them; you shall take them back to your brother.
And if he is not near you, or if you do not know him, you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall be with you until your brother seeks it; then you shall restore it to him”.
Similarly, if your brother’s ass or ox is “fallen down by the way”, you will help to lift it up again- Deuteronomy ch22 vv1-4

What really sets this apart from the laws of other nations is the fact that the same command is given about the animals which belong to an enemy;
“If you meet your enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, you shall bring it back to him.
If you see the ass of one who hates you lying under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it, you shall help him to lift it up”- Exodus ch23 vv4-5
This shows how the “love your enemy” teaching of the gospels was truly recognising the spirit of the Old Testament.

What can these laws tell us about the God who endorses them?

The principle that runs through them is respect for the property of others.
People should not suffer loss, by malice or neglect.
At the same time, the innocent man should not be punished for thefts which he did not commit or for events which were not under his control.
These are both aspects of the need for justice.
And these laws provide ways of dealing with disputes as they arise.
So they speak of a God who wants his people to live at peace with one another.
¬¬¬In fact he wants them to be actively helpful towards one another, treating strangers and even their personal enemies as their brethren.
This is already moving towards the teaching of “love”.

We should also note how the concept of “blood-guilt” shows the higher value that is attached to human life, in comparison with the value of property.

Wherever these laws resemble the laws of other societies of the time, that’s instructive in itself.
It shows us a God who deals with people as he finds them, starting with the customs they’ve got already and allowing time to improve them.

posted on Jan, 24 2014 @ 05:05 PM
For comparison, these laws are to be found in the Code of Hammurabi.

21. If any one break a hole into a house (break in to steal), he shall be put to death before that hole and be buried.

Similarly the “12 Tables” of ancient Rome include the following law;
“– If one is slain while committing theft by night, he is rightly slain.”
So there is general agreement that a house thief may be killed, at least if he breaks in by night, but only the Pentateuch is bothering to place any limit on this right.

8. If any one steal cattle or sheep, or an ass, or a pig or a goat, if it belong to a god or to the court, the thief shall pay thirtyfold therefor; if they belonged to a freed man of the king he shall pay tenfold; if the thief has nothing with which to pay he shall be put to death.
25. If fire break out in a house, and some one who comes to put it out cast his eye upon the property of the owner of the house, and take the property of the master of the house, he shall be thrown into that self-same fire.

The fines imposed by these laws are much heavier than the fines imposed in the Pentateuch.
They introduce a distinction which depends on the social status of the victim; thefts from royal or temple property are penalised more heavily than thefts from ordinary free men.
But the most important difference is that the Pentateuch has no death penalty for theft.

112. If any one be on a journey and entrust silver, gold, precious stones, or any movable property to another, and wish to recover it from him; if the latter do not bring all of the property to the appointed place, but appropriate it to his own use, then shall this man, who did not bring the property to hand it over, be convicted, and he shall pay fivefold for all that had been entrusted to him.
120. If any one store corn for safe keeping in another person's house, and any harm happen to the corn in storage, or if the owner of the house open the granary and take some of the corn, or if especially he deny that the corn was stored in his house: then the owner of the corn shall claim his corn before God (on oath), and the owner of the house shall pay its owner for all of the corn that he took.
122. If any one give another silver, gold, or anything else to keep, he shall show everything to some witness, draw up a contract, and then hand it over for safe keeping.
123. If he turn it over for safe keeping without witness or contract, and if he to whom it was given deny it, then he has no legitimate claim.
124. If any one deliver silver, gold, or anything else to another for safe keeping, before a witness, but he deny it, he shall be brought before a judge, and all that he has denied he shall pay in full.
125. If any one place his property with another for safe keeping, and there, either through thieves or robbers, his property and the property of the other man be lost, the owner of the house, through whose neglect the loss took place, shall compensate the owner for all that was given to him in charge. But the owner of the house shall try to follow up and recover his property, and take it away from the thief.
126. If any one who has not lost his goods state that they have been lost, and make false claims: if he claim his goods and amount of injury before God, even though he has not lost them, he shall be fully compensated for all his loss claimed. (I.e., the oath is all that is needed.)

I would guess that law 126 applies only to property less valuable than silver or gold, where Laws 122-123 would apply instead.
Even so, these laws are chiefly protecting the original property owner, in that they give him the advantage of “being believed when he makes a claim on oath”, which the Pentateuch transfers to the man who accepts custody.

244. If any one hire an ox or an ass, and a lion kill it in the field, the loss is upon its owner.
245. If any one hire oxen, and kill them by bad treatment or blows, he shall compensate the owner, oxen for oxen.
246. If a man hire an ox, and he break its leg or cut the ligament of its neck, he shall compensate the owner with ox for ox.
247. If any one hire an ox, and put out its eye, he shall pay the owner one-half of its value.
248. If any one hire an ox, and break off a horn, or cut off its tail, or hurt its muzzle, he shall pay one-fourth of its value in money.
249. If any one hire an ox, and God strike it that it die, the man who hired it shall swear by God and be considered guiltless.

These laws follow the same principles as the animal-hiring laws of the Pentateuch.
On the whole, though, the Babylonian code has a more single-minded interest in the rights of property.
It allows less room for the temporary keeper of property to defend himself against unjust claims.
It has no scruples about applying the death penalty for theft.
And of course, being a legal code rather than a moral code, it contains no equivalent for the Pentateuch’s demand that men should give voluntary assistance to their neighbours.

Code of Hammurabi

posted on Jan, 24 2014 @ 05:13 PM
I don't know man, but whenever I hit with some abrahamic mumbo jumbo my bullsh$t detector closes down the firewall. Totally no resonance.

posted on Jan, 24 2014 @ 05:16 PM
reply to post by HUMBLEONE

All these passages are describing the criminal and civil laws about theft and misappropriation of property.
How is that "mumbo-jumbo"?
Reacting with the mind is better than jerking the knee.

posted on Jan, 24 2014 @ 06:31 PM
reply to post by DISRAELI

The laws you mention from the book are a very good reference.

If one is familiar with this code one understands the underground that much more, it's a very good renderance of following the inherent code of conduct from a natural point of view.

There are still quite a lot of us following the law, and it has nothing to do with government.

There is a natural order and an understood right within society as a whole, personally the law is the closest I have seen to the truth thus far....the good man if he existed said it best when he said he did not come to change the law not one iota, and the reason is that is the reasonable law of nature is like the one whom made it.

There's a perspective for ya.


posted on Jan, 24 2014 @ 06:37 PM
reply to post by Treespeaker

Yes, the basic principles are reasonable and good and what nature might suggest.
It is only the detail that changes (in other words, we go by the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law).

posted on Jan, 24 2014 @ 06:44 PM

reply to post by HUMBLEONE

All these passages are describing the criminal and civil laws about theft and misappropriation of property.
How is that "mumbo-jumbo"?
Reacting with the mind is better than jerking the knee.

Government doesn't believe in god.
Why should they respect your property let alone the bible?
It bothers me when these people put god and government in the same category because these people act as if they have no faith. NONE. I mean seriously, when jesus said render unto caesar, he said it because he was being goaded by the rabbi and townsfolk so the guards would arrest him. The man knew better than to fall for their attempts. Tell me what that says about people then and now.

posted on Jan, 24 2014 @ 06:53 PM
reply to post by DISRAELI

I agree very aptly put.

The situation or " valuables " changes but the law stays the same.

Judging from the spirit has been a speed bump for most people from what I have watched, they often mix it up with judging folks(I spent my fair years doing likewise), I have and still wonder if lack of knowledge of the law has made people more prone to this in ignorance, and I seem to always lean to thinking it has.

When two or more people agree and work commonly the result is more than three fold, another natural law go's a wonder why we fight our own nature and each other so much.

The big change to grace is not lost on me, but it doesn't really change the big picture...I am humbled by grace, but the grace allows me to stand and do likewise and follow the law...and by so doing multiplying he output overall.

Just thinking out loud, and thanks for getting me thinking.


posted on Jan, 24 2014 @ 06:54 PM
reply to post by Nephalim

The fact remains that laws were in place for the protection of property, and they were being enforced.
So your theoretical question "why should they?" fails before the historical fact that they did.

These particular laws were published in God's name by people speaking as his agents, which is why I am using them to track the nature of the God in whose name they were published.

posted on Jan, 24 2014 @ 06:57 PM

reply to post by Nephalim

The fact remains that laws were in place for the protection of property, and they were being enforced.
So your theoretical question "why should they?" fails before the historical fact that they did.

These particular laws were published in God's name by people speaking as his agents, which is why I am using them to track the nature of the God in whose name they were published.

Where are these agents today is the question.

posted on Jan, 24 2014 @ 06:58 PM

reply to post by HUMBLEONE

All these passages are describing the criminal and civil laws about theft and misappropriation of property.
How is that "mumbo-jumbo"?
Reacting with the mind is better than jerking the knee.

It is
of Abrahamic origin therefore possessing a frequency range which when I experience it, I become nauseated.

posted on Jan, 24 2014 @ 07:01 PM

Where are these agents today is the question.

The nearest equivalent, post the Easter Resurrection, would be the Holy Spirit.
Looking at these laws, we need to get beyond the details and identify what's important in them.

posted on Jan, 24 2014 @ 07:03 PM
reply to post by HUMBLEONE

If it has that effect, it puzzles me that you bother to expose yourself to it instead of keeping away.
Just in the interests of your own health.

posted on Jan, 24 2014 @ 07:16 PM
It reveals the origin of the basic, unalienable right to property. When you run into someone who finds it nauseating, then you find someone who things we ought not have our basic right to property more often than not.

The whole shows that our rights to property derive from belief in a power higher than an agency of mankind which makes that basic right sacrosanct. When you hold that belief, than it puts your relationship with government in the proper light. They are not your master. They merely hold power because you allow them to. They can tax you (take your property) because you allow them to. Once they lose the consent of the governed, then they are no longer a legitimate government.

They don't dispense those rights to you. You have them already from another source, and that was recognized as far back as Abrahamic law. Really you can see it in the writings of Cicero, if you prefer a non-Abrahamic source.

posted on Jan, 24 2014 @ 07:26 PM
reply to post by ketsuko

The interesting thing about these laws is that they respect the right of property, but they modify that by respecting human life.
E.g, no death penalty for ordinary theft, even burglars killed only under conditions.
They hold things in balance.
In some societies, respect for property has been much more ruthless.

posted on Jan, 24 2014 @ 08:06 PM
Mainly that its rulers heaven, nothing of the sort ever came from God.

posted on Jan, 25 2014 @ 05:49 AM

Mainly that its rulers heaven

I'm not sure what this means. Can you re-phrase it?

nothing of the sort ever came from God.

Nothing of which sort?
If you mean the death penalty for theft, that's my argument as well.

Or do you mean these laws in general?
Paul would argue that everything good in the laws of all nations is inspired by God, albeit unconsciously. That's what he means by "The Gentiles are a Law unto themselves".
My suggestion here is that however much these laws may have been prompted by natural reasonings and the culture of the surrounding peoples, a more conscious contact with their God would have influenced a shift in emphasis, in such areas as (e.g.) dropping the death penalty for theft so common in other cultures.
edit on 25-1-2014 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 25 2014 @ 09:23 AM
What if your neighbors 'goods' are other human beings (slaves)?

edit on 25-1-2014 by Prezbo369 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 25 2014 @ 09:26 AM
reply to post by Prezbo369

That's a good question, but slavery is such a big issue that I'm giving it a separate thread later in the series.
So I'm coming back to that one later on.

posted on Jan, 25 2014 @ 09:29 AM
reply to [url= by DISRAELI[/url]

No, it really isn't a 'big issue', its an incredibly clean cut and simple issue IMO

or at least it should be....

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