Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 5: Harmony of the Law, Part III, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
Political Supplements to the eighth Commandment
1. If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.
1. Quum furatus fuerit quis bovem aut pecudem, et jugulaverit, aut vendiderit, quinque boves reddet pro illo bove, et quatuor pecudes pro pecude illa:
2. If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him.
2. (Si in effossione inventus fuerit fur, et percussus fuerit, et inde mortuus, non erit ei in sanguinem.
3. If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution: if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.
3. Si ortus fuerit sol super eum, erit ei in sanguinem:) reddendo reddet: si non sit ei, vendetar propter furtum suum.
4. If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep, he shall restore double.
4. Si deprehendatur in manu ejus furtum a bove usque ad asinum, usque ad pecudem: viva duo reddet.
Thus far God has proclaimed Himself the avenger of iniquities, and, citing thieves before His tribunal, has threatened them with eternal death. Now follow the civil laws, the principle of which is not so exact and perfect; since in their enactment God has relaxed His just severity in consideration of the people’s hardness of heart.
What God formerly delivered to His people the heathen legislators afterwards borrowed. Draco, indeed, was more severe, but his extreme rigor became obsolete by the silent consent of the people of Athens; and the Decemvirs borrowed from Solon part of their law, which they published in the ten tables, although there were some variations in the distinction of the double or quadruple restitution, and in process of time other alterations were afterwards made. But if all things be duly considered, it will be found that both Solon and the Decemvirs have made a change for the worse, wherever they have varied from the law of God. First of all, no distinction 132 is here made, such as the Roman laws decree, between manifest thieves and those that are not manifest; for by them the thief not manifest is condemned to a double amend, and the manifest to quadruple; and he is called a manifest thief who is caught before he has carried what he has stolen to the place of its destination. I suppose that the awarders of the punishment had this point in view, that the wickedness of that person was the more egregious who was so greedily and anxiously set on his prey as not to be afraid of disgrace; and undoubtedly he who has no fear of shame is more audacious ill sin. But, on the contrary, God condemns to a double amend those upon whom the stolen goods were found; and to quadruple, those who had killed or sold it; and deservedly so, because greater obstinacy in crime betrays itself where the theft is turned to profit, nor is there any hope of repentance; and thus by this further process the crime of dishonesty is doubled. It might be that, immediately after the offense, the thief should be alarmed; but he who had dared to kill the stolen animal or to sell it, is altogether hardened in his sin. Besides, the more difficult its investigation is, the greater is the punishment which a misdemeanor deserves. Meanwhile, it is to be remembered, that the pecuniary fine imposed upon thieves did not free them from guilt; for, as Marcellus says, 133 not even the president of a province can bring it to pass, that infamy should not pursue a man condemned of theft; and there was no need of establishing by law that in which all by nature are agreed. Thus, when God punished thieves by a fine, He left them still marked by infamy. I know not whether they 134 assign the true cause why he who had stolen an ox is fined to a larger amount than he who had stolen a goat, or sheep, or other cattle, who say that the loss of the owner is taken into account to whom the labor of the ox is especially useful in agriculture; for what is said as to an ox I extend to cows and the whole herd. Those seem to come nearer to the truth who say the audacity of the thief is punished who, when he stole the larger animal, did not fear being observed by witnesses; yet it seems to me more likely that the different sentence depended on the price of the article; for assuredly it is more reasonable that he who has done the most harm should be exposed to the greater punishment.
2. If a thief be found breaking up. This clause is to be taken separately, and is inserted by way of parenthesis; for, after having decreed the punishment, God adds in connection, “he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he should be sold for his theft;” and this exception as to the thief in the night is introduced parenthetically. But although the details are not expressed with sufficient distinctness, still the intention of God is by no means ambiguous, viz., that if a thief should be killed in the dark, his slayer should be unpunished; for he can then hardly be distinguished from a robber, especially when he proceeds with violence; because he cannot enter another man’s house by night without either digging through a wall or breaking down a door. The Twelve Tables 135 differ slightly from this; for they permit the killing of a thief by night, and also by day if he should defend himself with a weapon. But, since God had sufficiently repressed by other laws murders and violent assaults, He is silent here respecting robbers who use the sword in their attempts at plunder. He therefore justly condemns to death those who have avenged by murder a theft in open day.
3. He should make full restitution. These words, as I have said, are connected with the first verse, since here the execution of the punishment is only enjoined; as if God forbade thieves to be spared, but that they should pay either twofold or quadruple, or even quintuple, according to the measure of their crime. But, if they were unable to pay, He commands them to be sold as slaves, which also was the custom at Rome. Whence the saying of Cato, 136 “that private thieves lived in bonds and fetters, but public ones in gold and purple.” And since this condition was a harsh one, a caution is expressly given, that they were not to be absolved on the score of their poverty. If any one should ask whether it was lawful for the owner of the thing stolen to recover double or quadruple its value, I answer, that what God awards, a man has the best of rights to; meanwhile, in equity men were bound to take care that they did not grow rich at the expense of others, but rather were they to apply whatever they gained to pious and holy uses.
5. If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, 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.
5. Si depasci fecerit quispiam agrum aut vitem, et immiserit jumentum suum ut depasceretur agrum alterius: bonum agri ejus et bonum vineae ejus restituet.
6. 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.
6. Quum egressus fuerit ignis, et invenerit spinas: absumptusque fuerit acervus, vel seges, vel ager, reddendo redder qui ignem accendit, rem combustam.
7. If a man shall deliver unto his neighbor money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man’s house; if the thief be found, let him pay double.
7. Quum dederit quispiam proximo suo argentum, vel vasa ad custodiendum, et furto ablatum fuerit e domo viri illius: si inventus fuerit fur, reddet duplum.
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 neighbor’s goods.
8. Si non inventus fuerit fur, tunc applicabitur dominus domus ad judices, annon miserit manum suam in substantiam proximi sui.
9. For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbor.
9. Super omni causa praevaricationis, super bove, super asino, super pecude, super vestimento, super omni re amissa: quum dixerit quispiam hoc esse, usque ad judices veniet causa utriusque: et quem damnaverint judices, is reddat duplum proximo suo.
10. If a man deliver unto his neighbor 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:
10. Si dederit quispiam proximo suo asinum, vel bovem, vel pecudem, aut quodcunque animal ad custodiendum, et mortuum fuerit, aut contractum, aut ab hostibus captum nemine vidente.
11. Then shall an oath of the Lord be between them both, that he hath not put his hand unto his neighbor’s goods; and the owner of it shall accept thereof, and he shall not make it good.
11. Juramentum Jehovae erit inter utrumque, annon miserit manum suam in substantiam proximi sui, et juramentum suscipiet dominus ejus, et non reddet.
12. And if it be stolen from him, he shall make restitution unto the owner thereof.
12. Quod si furto ablatum fuerit ei, reddet domino ejus.
13. If it be torn in pieces, then let him bring it for witness, and he shall not make good that which was torn.
13. Si vero rapiendo raptum fuerit, adducet ei testem: raptum non reddet.
14. And if a man borrow ought of his neighbor, and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof being not with it; he shall surely make it good.
14. Si commodato acceperit quispiam a proximo suo, et confractum fuerit aut mortuum domino ejus absente, reddendo reddet.
15. But if the owner thereof be with it, he shall not make it good: if it be an hired thing, it came for his hire.
15. Si dominus ejus fuerit cum eo, non reddet: si conductum fuerit, veniens pro mercede sua.
9. For all manner of trespass. An action for theft is here permitted, but with a fine attached if any should rashly accuse his neighbor; for else it might be doubted when or for what reasons the restitution of double or quadruple was to be required. He therefore permits that if any one suspects another of theft, he should summon that person to plead his cause; and if he should prove his case, that he should recover double the thing lost; but if the judges should pronounce that he had brought his action groundlessly, that he, on the contrary, should pay the penalty of his false accusation. For such an action as this is not altogether a civil one, but carries with it the stain of infamy, and thus it would be unjust that a man should be injured by false suspicions whom the judges acquit of crime. The word used here for judges is אלהים, elohim, which properly means gods, as being of the plural number; it is, however often used for God. 137 It is transferred to judges for the purpose of dignifying their office; because in it they represent the person of God, in whose hand alone is all dominion and power. Therefore Christ says they were called gods, because to them “the word of God came,” (Joh 10:34,) i.e., that they should preside in His name, and be set over others, on which subject we treated under the Fifth Commandment.
5. If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten. This kind of fraud is justly ranked among thefts; viz., if any man shall have put in his beast to feed in another’s field or vineyard. For if a person have made improper use of his servant to steal by him, he himself is deemed guilty of the offense, even although he may have touched nothing with his own hand; nor does he less do wrong who has given occasion of injury by means of a brute. Still, God restricts the punishment to a compensation of double the amount, because it cannot be certainly established that the master of the animal desired to effect the damage fraudulently and designedly; yet He requires the loss to be made up at the highest estimate of its value; 138 for thus I interpret “the goodness of his field and his vineyard,” that the place having been examined, a liberal restitution shall be awarded to its owner, according to the utmost it would have probably produced in its greatest state of fertility.
6. If fire break out and catch in thorns. This injury is somewhat different from the foregoing, for he who kindles the fire is commanded to make good the damage done by him, although there may have been no willful intention to do harm. For the incendiary who had maliciously destroyed either a cornfield or a vineyard was to be far more severely punished; here, however, mere carelessness is punished. Although no mention is made either of house or barn, still the law includes all similar cases requiring compensation from him who had kindled a fire even in an open field. But it seems that such a person would be blameless, because he could not. foresee that the fire would ignite the thorns; yet, in order that every one should take as much care of the property of another as of his own, God commands him to suffer the penalty of his heedless or stupid negligence.
7. If a man shall deliver unto his neighbor money. It is here determined under what circumstances an action for theft would lie in case of a deposit, viz., if an inanimate thing, as a garment or furniture, be given ill charge, and the person with whom it is deposited should allege that it is stolen, God commands that, if the thief be discovered, he should pay double; but, if not, that an oath should be required of the man who declares that the thing has been stolen from him. But, if it be an animal that was given in charge, a somewhat different provision is made, viz., that if it have been violently carried away, or torn by beasts, the person with whom it was deposited should be free; but if it had been stolen, that he should make restitution. In order to understand the principle of this law, we must observe that depositaries are not to be compelled to do more than faith. fully preserve the thing entrusted to them; just as a prudent and careful father of a family is attentive to the preservation of his property. When they have acquitted themselves diligently in this respect, it would be unjust to require more, of them; otherwise, when they undertake the burden of this gratuitous office, their generosity would be an injury to themselves. But, since it is not so easy to steal an animal from the stall, or from the hands of the shepherd, the negligence of the shepherd betrays itself in the loss of the beast, 139 supposing no violence to have been used. Justice, then, is done in both cases, i e., that the depository shall not make good a vessel, or money, or a garment, because this would be in a manner to put him in the place of the thief; but that if the animal be stolen he shall pay its price, unless he can cleat’ himself of carelessness. If any should think that too great indulgence is shown to the depositary, when God would have the dispute terminated by his oath; the reply is easy, that we do not entrust anything to be kept by another, unless we are persuaded of his honesty. Whoever, then, has chosen a guardian for his property, has borne witness to his own prejudice that he is a good and trustworthy man; and consequently, it would be absurd that he should soon afterwards be involved in all accusation of theft without proof. Wherefore it was reasonable that God would have the owner of the lost goods acquiesce in the oath of him. whom he has considered to be his faithful friend. Besides, a man is altogether acquitted who clears himself by calling God to witness his innocence, unless any sinister suspicion is alleged against him, and provided he excuses himself on probable evidence.
10. If a man deliver unto his neighbor an ass. Since in the passage from whence I have taken these four verses, mention is made of a deposit, and Moses is professedly providing against frauds, and robberies, and thefts, I have thought it well to place them under this head. It has indeed some relation to the Third Commandment, because it shows the lawful use of an oath, viz., that in matters of concealment men should have recourse to the witness of God, and that, by the interposition of His sacred name, an end should be put to their strife. But, while the authority attributed to oaths depends on the reverence due to God, at the same time faith and piety are enforced in them, 140 so that all things should correspond. I have, however, considered the main point, i e., how controversies as to things concealed should be brought to an end for the advancement of peace and equity. He would therefore have the depositary acquitted, if he swears that the animal entrusted to him is lost (either by death or violence, 141 ) although lie should produce no witness of the matter, since it would be unjust that he should bear the blame, unless fraud, or some more palpable offense, have been committed by him. At the conclusion, then, it is said, “the owner of it shall accept” the oath, which is equivalent to saying, that lie shall be compelled to acquiesce, and shall give no more trouble about it. The expression, “an oath of the Lord shall be between them both,” is a remarkable one, whereby the obligation and sanctity of an oath are enforced, whilst Moses reminds us that God is the author of this sacred mode of attestation, and presides over it as its judge and avenger.
Moses now lays down the law as to a borrowed animal, if it die, or be mutilated, or injured. There is, however, a wide distinction between a thing borrowed and a thing deposited, for he who lends confers a favor; and therefore, when a man borrows a thing, he binds himself to restore it in safety, as far as in him lies. A distinction, however, is made, if the owner himself of the animal be an eye-witness of the death or fracture, he shall bear the loss; but if the animal should die or be injured in his absence, its value is awarded to him. His presence is tantamount to this, as if it were said, if he shall have seen with his own eyes that the injury did not occur by the fault of him to whom he lent it, then he shall give him no trouble about it. For instance, if you have lent me a horse, and take the journey with me, although anything untoward should happen — supposing you are assured that it did not occur by my temerity, or negligence, or bad management, I am free, and exempt from loss.
What is here laid down as to a borrowed animal must be applied also to all other things borrowed.
Lev. 24:18, 21
18. And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast.
18. Qui percusserit animam animalis, restituet illud: animam pro anima.
21. And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it; and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death.
21. Qui percusserit animal, reddet illud.
God here prescribes, that whosoever has inflicted a loss upon another shall make satisfaction for it, although he may not have turned it to his own profit; for in respect to a theft, its profit is not to be considered, but the intention to injure, or other cause of guilt; for it might happen that he who has killed another’s ox should not deliberately desire to do him an injury, but in a fit of passion, or from unpremeditated impulse, should nevertheless have inflicted loss upon him. In whatever way, therefore, a man should have committed an offense, whereby another is made poorer, he is commanded to make good the loss. Whence it is clear, that whosoever do not so restrain themselves as to care for a neighbor’s advantage as much as for their own, are accounted guilty of theft before God. The object, however, of the law is, that no one should suffer loss by us, which will be the case if we have regard to the good of our brethren.
33. And if a man shall open a pit, or if a man shall dig a pit, and not cover it, and an ox or an ass fall therein;
33. Quum aperuerit quis cisternam, vel foderit quis cisternam, et non cooperuerit eam: cecideritque illuc bos vel asinus:
34. The owner of the pit shall make it good, and give money unto the owner of them; and the dead beast shall be his.
34. Dominns cisternae reddet pecuniam, et restituet domino ejus: et quod mortuum est, erit illius.
35. And if one man’s ox hurt another’s, that he die; then they shall sell the live ox, and divide the money of it; and the dead ox also they shall divide.
35. Si percusserit bos alicujus bovem proximi sui, mortuusque fuerit, tunc vendet bovem vivum, et partientur pretium ejus: mortuum quoque partientur.
36. Or if it be known that the ox hath used to push in time past, and his owner hath not kept him in; he shall surely pay ox for ox; and the dead shall be his own.
36. Quod si notum fuerit bovem esse cornupetam ab heri et nudiustertius, et non custodierit eum dominus ejus, reddendo reddet bovem pro bove, et mortuus erit illius.
33. And if a man shall open a pit He enumerates still more cases of damage inflicted, in which restitution is to be demanded of the person who gave occasion for the occurrence. First, it is said, If a man shall open a pit, or cistern, and not cover it, and an animal shall fall into it, he is bound to pay its value; and justly, since his carelessness approaches to actual guilt. Here, again, we see how God would have all men to be anxious for their neighbor’s advantage; yet, inasmuch as there was no fraud or malice in the case, he is permitted, after paying its price, to appropriate the carcass to himself. But, if one man’s ox should be killed by another’s, a most just appointment is made, viz., that, if it happened unexpectedly, and by sudden accident, they should divide the dead ox between them, and, having sold the other, each should take half the price; but if the ox was a savage one, that its owner should undergo a greater penalty by paying its full price; because he ought to have anticipated the mischief, and thus was scarcely so kind as he should have been, giving occasion to the injury.
Deut. 23:24, 25
24. When thou comest into thy neighbor’s vineyard, then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill at thine own pleasure; but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel.
24. Quum ingressus fueris vineam proximi tui, comedes uvas pro desiderio tuo ad satietatem tuam: at in vase tuo non pones.
25. When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbor, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbor’s standing corn.
25. Quum ingressus fueris segetem proximi tui, decerpes spicas manu tua: at falcem non attolles in segetem proximi tui.
Since God here concedes a great indulgence to the poor, some restrict it to the laborers in the harvest and vintage, 142 as if He permitted them to pluck the ears of corn and grapes with their hands for food alone, and not to carry away. I have no doubt, however, that it refers to all persons, and that no greater license is given than humanity demands. For we must not strain the words too precisely, but look to the intention of the Lawgiver. God forbids men to introduce a sickle into the harvest of another; now, if a man should pluck with his hands as many ears of corn as he could carry on his shoulders, or lay upon a horse, could he excuse himself by the puerile explanation that he had not used a sickle? But, if common sense itself repudiates such gross impudence, it is plain that the Law has another object, viz., that no one should touch even an ear of another man’s harvest, except for present use, which occurred to Christ’s disciples, when they were compelled by hunger to rub the ears of corn in their hands, lest they should faint by the way. (Mt 12:1.) The same view must be taken as to grapes. If any man deliberately breaks into another’s vineyard and gorges himself there, whatever excuse he may make, he will be accounted a thief. Wherefore, there is no doubt but that this Law permits hungry travelers to refresh themselves by eating grapes, when they have not enough of other food. But although the liberty of eating to their fill is granted, still it was not. allowable oil this pretext to gorge themselves. Besides, vineyards were enclosed with hedges and guarded; whence it appears that the grapes were not exposed to every glutton. This, then, is the sum, that it is not accounted a theft, if a traveler, in order to relieve his hunger, should stretch forth his hand to the hanging fruit, 143 until he should arrive at his resting-place where he may buy bread and wine.
Lev. 19:9, 10
9. And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.
9. Quum messueritis messem regionis vestrae, non finies metere angulum agri tui, et collectionem messis tuae non colliges.
10. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God.
10. Et vineam tuam non racemabis, neque grana vineae tuae colliges: pauperi et peregrino relinques ea: ego Jehova Deus vester.
22. And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest; thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the Lord your God.
22. Quum metetis messem regionis vestrae, non absolves usque ad angulum agri tui: nec collectionem messis tuae colliges: pauperi et peregrino relinques eam: Ego Jehova Deus vester.
19. When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, then shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.
19. Quum messueris messem in agro tuo, et oblitus fueris manipulum in agro, non reverteris ad eum tollendum: peregrino, pupillo, et viduae erit: ut benedicat tibi Jehova Deus tuus in omni opere manuum tuarum.
20. When then beatest thine olive-tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
20. Quum excusseris olivam tuam, non scrutaberis ramos post te: peregrino, pupillo, et viduae erit.
21. When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
21. Quum vindemiabis vineam tuam, non colliges racemos post te: peregrino, pupillo, et viduae erunt.
22. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bond-man in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.
22. Memento quod servus fueris in terra AEgypti: idcirco praecipio tibi ut hoc facias.
God here inculcates liberality upon the possessors of land, when their fruits are gathered: for, when His bounty is exercised before our eyes, it invites us to imitate Him; and it is a sign of ingratitude, unkindly and maliciously, to withhold what we derive from His blessing. God does not indeed require that those who have abundance should so profusely give away their produce, as to despoil themselves by enriching others; and, in fact, Paul prescribes this as the measure of our alms, that their relief of the poor should not bring into distress the rich themselves, who kindly distribute. (2Co 8:13.) God, therefore, permits every one to reap his corn, to gather his vintage, and to enjoy his abundance; provided the rich, content with their own vintage and harvest, do not grudge the poor the gleaning of the grapes and corn. Not that He absolutely assigns to the poor whatever remains, so that they may seize it as their own; but that some small portion may flow gratuitously to them from the munificence of the rich. He mentions indeed by name the orphans, and widows, and strangers, yet undoubtedly He designates all the poor and needy, who have no fields of their own to sow or reap; for it will sometimes occur that orphans are by no means in want, but rather that they have the means of being liberal themselves; nor are widows and strangers always hungry; but I have explained elsewhere why these three classes are mentioned.
1. At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release.
1. Septimo quoque anno facies remissionem.
2. And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbor shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbor, or of his brother; because it is called the Lord’s release.
2. Haec autem est ratio remissionis, ut remittat omnis qui mutuum dederit manu sua, id quod mutuum dederit amico suo: non reposcet ab amico suo, aut a fratre suo, quia proclamata est remissio Jehovae.
3. Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it again: but that which is thine with thy brother thine hand shall release;
3. Ab alienigena reposces, aut quod fuerit tibi apud fratrem tuum, remittet manus tua:
4. Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the Lord shall greatly bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it:
4. Nisi quia non sit (vel, prorsus certe non erit) in te mendicus: quia benedicendo benedicet tibi Jehova in terra quam ipse Deus tuus dat tibi in haereditatem ut possideas eam.
5. Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day.
5. Sed ita duntaxat, si obediendo obedieris voci Jehovae Dei tui, ita ut custodias faciendo omne praeceptum istud quod ego praecipio tibi hodie.
6. For the Lord thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.
6. Nam Jehova Deus tuus benedixit tibi, quemadmodum dixit tibi: tum mutuo accepto pignore dabis gentibus multis, tu autem non accipies mutuo: et dominaberis gentibus multis, at tibi non dominabuntur.
7. If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates, in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother;
7. Si fuerit apud te mendicus quispiam e fratribus tuis, in una e portis tuis, in terra tua quam Jehova Deus tuus dat tibi: non indurabis cor tuum, neque claudes manum tuam a fratre tuo mendico.
8. But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.
8. Sed aperiendo aperies illi manum tuam, et mutuando mutuabis ei ad sufficientiam usque, id quo indiguerit.
9. Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him naught, and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee.
9. Cave tibi ne sit quidpiam in corde tuo impium, dicendo, Propinquus est annus septimus, annus remissionis: et malignus sit oculus tuus in fratrem tuum mendicum, ita ut non des ei: clamet autem contra te ad Jehovam, et erit in te peccatum.
10. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.
10. Dando dabis ei, neque malignum erit cor tuum quum dederis ei: quia hujus rei gratia benedicet tibi Jehova Deus tuus in omnibus operibus tuis, et in omni expensione manuum tuarum.
11. For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.
11. Non enim deerit mendicus de medio terrae: idcirco praecipio tibi dicendo, Aperiendo aperies manum tuam fratri tuo, id est pauperi tuo et mendico tuo in terra tua.
1. At the end of every seven years. A special act of humanity towards each other is here prescribed to the Jews, that every seven years, brother should remit to brother whatever was owed him. But, although we are not bound by this law at present, and it would not be even expedient that it should be in use, still the object to which it tended ought still to be maintained, i e., that we should not be too rigid in exacting our debts, especially if we have to do with the needy, who are bowed down by the burden of poverty. The condition of the ancient people, as I have said, was different. They derived their origin from a single race; the land of Canaan was their common inheritance; fraternal association was to be mutually sustained among them, just as if they were one family: and, inasmuch as God had once enfranchised them, the best plan for preserving’ their liberty for ever was to maintain a condition of mediocrity, lest a few persons of immense wealth should oppress the general body. Since, therefore, the rich, if they had been permitted constantly to increase in wealth, would have tyrannized over the rest, God put by this law a restraint on immoderate power. Moreover, when rest was given to the land, and men reposed from its cultivation, it was just that the whole people, for whose sake the Sabbath was instituted, should enjoy some relaxation. Still the remission here spoken of was, in my opinion, merely temporary. Some, indeed, suppose that all debts were then entirely cancelled; 144 as if the Sabbatical year destroyed all debtor and creditor accounts; but this is refuted by the context, for when the Sabbatical year is at hand, God commands them to lend freely, whereas the contract would have been ridiculous, unless it had been lawful to seek repayment in due time. Surely, if no payment had ever followed, it would have been required simply to give: for what would the empty form of lending have availed if the money advanced was never to be returned to its owner? But God required all suits to cease for that year, so that no one should trouble his debtor: and, because in that year of freedom and immunity there was no hope of receiving back the money, God provides against the objection, and forbids them to be niggardly, although the delay might produce some inconvenience. First of all, therefore, He commands them to make a remission in the seventh year, i e., to abstain from exacting their debts, and to concede to the poor, as well as to the land, a truce, or vacation. On which ground Isaiah reproves the Jews for observing the Sabbath amiss, when they exact 145 their debts, and “fast for strife and debate.” (Isa. 58:3, 4.) The form of remission is added, That no one should vex his neighbor in the year in which the release of God is proclaimed.
3. Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it. An exception follows, that it should be lawful to sue foreigners, and to compel them to pay; and this for a very good reason, because it was by no means just that despisers of the Law should enjoy the Sabbatical benefit, especially when God had conferred the privilege on His elect people alone. What follows in the next verse, “Unless because there shall be no beggar,” interpreters twist into various senses. Some translate it, Nevertheless (veruntamen,) let there be no beggar among thee; as if it were a prohibition, that they should not suffer their poor brethren to be overwhelmed with poverty, without assisting them; and, lest they should object that, if they should be so liberal in giving, they would soon exhaust themselves, God anticipates them, and bids them rely upon his blessing. Others, however, understand it as a promise, and connect it thus, That there should be no beggar among them, if only they keep the Law, since then God would bless them. Nor would this meaning be very unsuitable. What they mean who expound it, Insomuch that there should be no beggar with thee, I know not. Let my readers, however, consider whether 146 אפס כי, ephes ci, is not better rendered “unless because,” (nisi quod:) and then this clause would be read parenthetically, as if it were said, Whenever there shall be any poor among your brethren, an opportunity of doing them good is presented to you. Therefore the poverty of your brethren is to be relieved by you, in order that God may bless you. But, that the sentence may be clearer, I take the two words, אפס כי, ephes ci, exclusively, as if it were, On no account let there be a beggar: or, howsoever it. may be, suffer not that by your fault there should be any beggar amongst you; for He would put an end to all vain excuses, and, as necessity arose, would have them disposed to give assistance, lest the poor should sink under the pressure of want and distress, tie does not, therefore, mean generally all poor persons, but only those in extreme indigence; such as the Prophet Amos complains are “sold for a pair of shoes.” (Am 2:6.) In order, then, that they may more cheerfully assist their distresses, He promises that His blessing shall be productive of greater abundance. And from hence Paul seems to have derived his exhortation to the Corinthians:
“He which soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully. God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.: Now he that ministereth seed to the sower, shall both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness, that, being enriched in every thing, you may abound unto all bountifulness.” (2Co 9:6-11.)
In short, God would have them without carefulness, since He will abundantly recompense them with His blessing, if they have diminished their own stores by liberality to the poor.
6. For the Lord thy God blesseth thee. He confirms the foregoing declaration, but ascends from the particular to the general; for, after having taught that they might expect from God’s blessing much more than they have bestowed on the poor, he now recalls their attention to the Covenant itself, as much as to say, that whatever they have is derived from that original fountain of God’s grace, when He made them inheritors of the land of Canaan. God reminds them also that He then promised them abundant produce; and thus indicates that, if they were mean and niggardly, they would cause the land to be barren. When He says that they should lend to all nations, he speaks by way of amplification; and also in the next clause, that they should reign over the Gentiles; whence it follows, that if there were any in want among them, it would arise from the wickedness and depravity, of the people themselves.
7. If there be among you a poor man The same word אביון, ebyon, is used, which we have seen just above, verse 4; nor is there any contradiction when He commands them to relieve beggars, whom He had before forbidden to exist among His people; for the object of the prohibition was, that if any were reduced to beggary, they should not be cast out and forsaken. Now, however, He explains the mode of preventing this, viz., that the hands of the rich should be open to assist them. In order to incline them to compassion, he again reminds them of their common brotherhood, and sets before them, as its token and pledge, the land in which by God’s goodness they dwell together. Again, that they may be willing and prompt in their humanity, He forbids them to harden their heart, thereby signifying that avarice is always cruel. Finally, He applies this instruction to the year of release, viz., that they should straightway relieve their poor brethren towards the beginning of that year, just as if they would receive back in a few days the money which the poor man would retain to its end.
11. For the poor shall never cease out of the land. The notion 147 of those is far fetched who suppose that there would be always poor men among them, because they would not keep the law, and consequently the land would be barren on account of their unrighteousness. I admit that this is true; but God does not here ascribe it to their sins that there would always be some beggars among them, but only reminds them that there would never be wanting matter for their generosity, because He would prove what was in their hearts by setting the poor before them. For, (as I have observed above,) this is why the rich and poor meet together, and the Lord is maker of them all; because otherwise the duties of charity would not be observed unless they put them into exercise by assisting each other. Wherefore God, to stir up the inactivity of the rich, declares that lie prescribes nothing but what continual necessity will require.
1. Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them.
1. Haec sunt judicia quae propones eis.
2. If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve; and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.
2. Si emeris servum Hebraeum, sex annis serviet: septimo egredietur gratis.
3. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him.
3. Si cum corpore suo ingressus fuerit, cum corpore suo egredietur: si maritus mulieris erat, egredietur et uxor ejus cum ipso.
4. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself.
4. Si herus ejus dederit ei uxorem, et pepererit ei filios, vel filias, uxor et filii ejus erunt heri sui: ipse vero egredietur cum corpore suo.
5. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free:
5. Quod si dicendo dixerit servus, Diligo herum meum, et uxorem meam, et filios meos, non egredietur liber:
6. Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the doorpost: and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever.
6. Tunc adducet eum herus ejus ad judices, et applicabit eum ad ostium, vel ad postem, perforabitque herus ejus aurem ejus subula, et serviet ei in saeculum.
1. Now these are the judgments. Both passages contain the same appointment, viz., that as to the Hebrews slavery must end at the seventh year; for God would have the children of Abraham, although obliged to sell themselves, to differ from heathen and ordinary slaves. Their enfranchisement is, therefore, enjoined, but with an exception, which Moses expresses in the first passage but omits in the latter, i e., that if the slave had married a bond-woman, and had begotten children, they should remain with the master, and that he should alone be free. Whence it appears how hard was the condition of slaves, since it could not be mitigated without an unnatural exception (sine prodigio;) for nothing could be more opposed to nature than that a husband, forsaking his wife and children, should remove himself elsewhere. But the tie of slavery could only be loosed by divorce, that is to say, by this impious violation of marriage. There was then gross barbarity in this severance, whereby a man was disunited from half of himself and his own bowels. Yet there was no remedy for it; for if the wife and children had been set free, it would have been a spoliation of their lawful master to take them with him, not only because the woman was his slave, but because he had incurred expense in the bringing up of the young children. The sanctity of marriage therefore gave way in this case to private right; and this defect is to be reckoned amongst the others which God tolerated on account of the people’s hardness of heart, because it could hardly be remedied; yet, if any one were withheld by chaste affection, and unwilling to abandon his wife and offspring, an alternative is presented, viz., that he should give himself up also to perpetual slavery. The form of this is more clearly pointed out in Exodus than in Deuteronomy; for, in the latter, it is only said that the master, in order to assert his perpetual right to the slave, should bore his ear; whereas in Exodus the circumstance is added, that a public process should first take place; for, if each private individual had been his own judge in this matter, the rich men’s houses would have been like slaughterhouses to put their wretched slaves to the torment in. 148 We read in Jeremiah, (Jer 34:11,) that this law fell into contempt, and that the Jews, contrary to all law and justice, retained perpetual dominion over their slaves; nay, that when they were severely reprimanded under King Zedekiah, and liberty was anew proclaimed, the wretched men were immediately dragged back to their yoke of tyranny, as if they had been set free in mockery. Care was therefore to be taken lest, by secret tortures, they should compel the unwilling to continue as their slaves; and the provision against this evil was an open confession of their desire before the judges; whilst the boring of the ear was a kind of stigma upon them. For the Orientals were accustomed to brand slaves, or fugitives, or criminals, or those who were in any wise suspected; and although God did not choose to have this mark of ignominy imprinted on the foreheads of his people, yet, if any one voluntarily consented to endure perpetual slavery, He willed that he should bear this token of his servitude upon his ear. Still we must remember that even this slavery, although it is said to endure for ever, was brought to a close at the jubilee, because then the condition of the land and people was altogether renewed.
12. And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years, then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee.
12. Si venditus fuerit tibi frater tuus Hebraeus, vel Hebraea, et servierit tibi sex annis: anno septimo dimittes eum liberum a te.
13. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty:
13. Et quum dimittes eum liberum a te, non dimittes eum vacuum.
14. Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy wine-press: of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him.
14. Onerando onerabis eum, de pecudibus tuis, et de area tua, et de torculari tuo: in quibus benedixit tibi Jehova Deus tuus, dabis ei.
15. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bond-man in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing today.
15. Et recordaberis quod servus fuisti in terra AEgypti, et redemerit te Jehova Deus tuus: idcirco ego praecipio tibi hoc hodie.
16. And it shall be, if he say unto thee, I will not go away from thee; (because he loveth thee and thine house, because he is well with thee;)
16. Quod si dixerit tibi, Non egrediar a te: propterea quod diligat te et domum tuam, et quod bene sit ei tecum:
17. Then thou shalt take an awl, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever: and also unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise.
17. Tunc accipies subulam, et adiges in aurem ejus in porta: eritque tibi servus in saeculum: sic etiam ancillae tuae facies.
18. It shall not seem hard unto thee when thou sendest him away free from thee; for he hath been worth a double hired servant to thee, in serving thee six years: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all that thou doest.
18. Non sit durum in oculis tuis quum dimittes eum liberum a te, quia duplo secundum mercedem mercenarii servivit tibi sex annis: et benedicet tibi Jehova in omnibus quae facies.
13. And when thou sendest him out free from thee. Here not only is the enfranchisement of slaves enjoined, but an exhortation to liberality is also added, viz., that they should not send away their slaves without their hire; for this is not a civil enactment for the purpose of extorting from the avaricious more than they were willing to give. The rule of Paul here applies:
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2Co 9:7.)
But, since the Hebrew slaves were brethren, God would not allow them to be placed in a worse condition than hirelings. That He commands them to be furnished out of the wine-press, and floor, and flock, does not mean that they were to be enriched, or that a large provision should be assigned to them, but He justly lays a constraint on the rich, whose varied abundance supplied them with the means of liberality; as if He would show them from whence they received their gratuitous gifts, which were at the same time a just compensation for the labors of their slaves.
18. It shall not seem hard unto thee. I have lately observed how difficult and inconvenient to the Jews was the observance of this law; wherefore it is not without reason that God reproves their mean and niggardly pride, if they enfranchised their slaves grudgingly. And, indeed, He first urges them to obey on the score of justice, and then from the hope of remuneration. For He reminds them that for six years the slave had earned double the wages of a hireling, either because his life was more laborious, inasmuch as heavier tasks are required from slaves than from free-men, who are paid for their work; or because he had completed twice as long a period as hirelings were wont to be engaged for. For the Jewish (commentators) 149 infer from this passage, that three years was the term prescribed for hired servants; and thus they suppose the six years were counted. But since this is a mere conjecture, I know not whether my opinion is not more suitable, that for six years their labors had been twice as profitable as would have been those of a free-man who is not under the compulsion of a slave.
39. And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bond-servant:
39. Si attenuatus fuerit frater tuus apud te, ita ut vendat se tibi, non uteris opera ejus tanquam servi opera.
40. But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee:
40. Tanquam mercenarius, tanquam colonus erit tecum: usque ad annum Jubilaei serviet tibi.
41. And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return.
41. Egredietur autem a te ipse, et liberi ejus cum eo, ac revertetur ad familiam suam, et ad possessionem patrum suorum revertetur.
42. For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bond-men.
42. Sunt enim servi mei quos eduxi e terra AEgypti: non vendentur venditione servili.
43. Thou shalt not rule over him with rigor, but shalt fear thy God.
43. Non dominaberis illis dure sed timebis a Deo tuo.
44. Both thy bond-men and thy bond-maids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bond-men and bond-maids.
44. Servus autem tuus et ancilla tua qui erunt tibi, de gentibus erunt quae sunt in circuitu vestro, ex iis emetis servum et ancillam.
45. Moreover, of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land; and they shall be your possession:
45. Et etiam de filiis incolarum qui versantur apud vos, emetis: et de familia eorum qui apud vos sunt, quos procreaverunt in terra vestra: eruntque vobis in possessionem.
46. And ye shalt take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bond-men for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigor.
46. Et jure haereditario possidebitis eos pro filiis vestris post vos, ad possidendum possessionem: in perpetuum utemini opera, eorum: fratribus autem vestris filiis Israel quisque fratri suo non dominabitur dure.
47. And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger’s family:
47. Si autem apprehenderint manus peregrini et advenae qui est apud te, et attenuatus fuerit frater tuus qui apud illum versatur, seque vendiderit peregrino et advenae qui est apud te, vel stirpi familiae peregrini:
48. After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him:
48. Postquam vendiderit se, redemptio erit ei: unus e fratribus ejus redimet eum:
49. Either his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or, if he be able, he may redeem himself.
49. Aut patruus ejus, aut filius patrui ejus redimet eum, aut propinquus carnis ejus e familia ejus redimet eum: aut si apprehenderit manus ejus, tunc redimet seipsum.
50. And he shall reckon with him that bought him, from the year that he was sold to him, unto the year of jubilee: and the price of his sale shall be according unto the number of years, according to the time of an hired servant shall it be with him.
50. Et supputabit cum eo qui emit ipsum, ab anno quo se vendidit illi, usque ad annum Jubilaei, aestimabiturque pecunia venditionis ejus secundum numerum annorum: et secundum dies mercenarii fiet cum eo.
51. If there be yet many years behind, according unto them he shall give again the price of his redemption out of the money that he was bought for.
51. Si adhuc multi fuerint anni, secundum eos restituet redemptionem suam de argento venditionis suae.
52. And if there remain but few years unto the year of jubilee, then he shall count with him, and according unto his years shall he give him again the price of his redemption.
52. Quod si parum reliquum sit ex annis usque ad annum Jubilaei, tunc supputabit cum eo: et secundum annos suos restituet redemptionem suam.
53. And as a yearly hired servant shall he be with him: and the other shall not rule with rigor over him in thy sight.
53. Tanquam mercenarius annuus erit cum illo: non dominabitur ei dure in oculis tuis.
54. And if he be not redeemed in these years, then he shall go out in the year of jubilee, both he, and his children with him.
54. Si non se redemerit in illis, egredietur in anno Jubilaei ipse et filii ejus:
55. For unto me the children of Israel are servants; they are my servants, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
55. Quia mihi sunt filii Israel servi, servi mei sunt quos eduxi e terra AEgypti: ego Jehova Deus vester.
39. And if thy brother. He now proceeds further, i e., that one who has bought his brother should treat him with humanity, and not otherwise than a hired servant. We have seen, indeed, just above, that the labor of a slave is estimated at twice as much, because the humanity of his master will never go so far as to indulge or spare his slave as if he were a hireling. It is not, therefore, without reason that God puts a restraint upon that rule, which experience shows to have been often tyrannical. Still He prescribes no more than heathen philosophers did, 150 viz., that masters should treat their slaves like hired servants. And this principle of justice ought to prevail towards all without exception; but since it was difficult to prescribe the same rule respecting strangers as respecting their brethren, a special law is enacted, that at least they should observe moderation towards their brethren, with whom they had a common inheritance and condition. First:. therefore, it is provided as to Hebrew slaves that they should not be treated harshly and contemptuously like captives (mancipia;) and then that their slavery should come to an end in the year of jubilee. But here the question arises, since their liberty was before accorded to them in the, seventh year, why it is now postponed to the fiftieth? Some get over the difficulty by supposing that 151 if the jubilee occurred during the six years, they must then be set free, although they had not completed the whole term; but this is too forced a conjecture. The view that most approves itself to me is, that the word יבל, yobel, is extended to mean every seventh year, or, at any rate, that moderation towards those slaves is specially prescribed who were most exposed to violence and other injurious treatment. For they would not have dared to oppress at pleasure their slaves, who were soon afterwards to be free; but those who, by having their ears bored, had subjected themselves to the longer period of slavery, would have been more outrageously harassed, unless God had interposed. And this opinion I freely adopt, that although their slavery lasted to the jubilee, yet flint their masters were to treat them with moderation and humanity. This too is confirmed by what immediately follows, where it is enjoined that the children should be set free with their fathers, which did not take place in the seventh year.
42. For they are my servants. God here declares that His own right is invaded when those, whom He claims as His property, are taken into subjection by another; for He says that He acquired the people as His own when He redeemed them from Egypt. Whence He infers that His right is violated if any should usurp perpetual dominion over a Hebrew. If any object that this is of equal force, when they only serve for a time, I reply, that though God might have justly asserted His sole ownership, yet He was satisfied with this symbol of it; and therefore that He suffered by indulgence that they should be enslaved for a fixed period, provided some trace of His deliverance of them should remain. In a word, He simply chose to apply this preventative lest slavery should altogether extinguish the recollection of His grace, although He allowed it to be thus smothered as it were. Lest, therefore, cruel masters should trust that their tyranny would be exercised with impunity, Moses reminds them that they had to do with God, who will at length appear as its avenger. Although the political laws of Moses are not now in operation, still the analogy is to be preserved, lest the condition of those who have been redeemed by Christ’s blood should be worse amongst us, than that of old of tits ancient people. To whom Paul’s exhortation refers:
“Ye masters, forbear threatening your slaves, knowing that both your and their Master is in heaven.” 152 (Eph 6:9.)
44. Both thy bond-men, and thy bond-maids. What God here permits as regards strangers was everywhere customary among the Gentiles, viz., that their power over their slaves should exist not only until their death, but should continue in perpetual succession to their children; for this is the force of the expression, “ye shall possess them for your children,” that the right of ownership should pass to their heir’s also; nor is there a distinction made only as to perpetuity, 153 but also as to the mode of their treatment. For we must observe the antithesis, “ye shall make use of their service, but over his brother no man shall rule with rigor;” 154 whence it appears that a restraint was imposed upon them lest they should imperiously rule the children of Abraham, and not leave them half their liberty in comparison with the Gentiles. Not that a tyrannical or cruel exercise of power oyer strangers was allowed, but that God would have the race of Abraham, whose liberator lie was, exempted by certain privileges from the common lot.
47. And if a sojourner or a stranger. A caution is here introduced as to the Israelites who had enslaved themselves to strangers. But by strangers understand only those who inhabited the land of Canaan; for, if any one ]lad been carried away into other countries, God would have enacted this law as to their redemption in vain. A power, therefore, of redeeming the slave is granted to his relatives, or, if he had himself obtained sufficient to pay his price, the same permission is accorded to himself. The mode and the form of this are then expressed: that a calculation of the time which remained before the jubilee should be made, and the period which had already elapsed should be subtracted from the sum, viz., if he had been sold for fifty shekels he should only pay ten shekels in the fortieth year, because only a fifth part of the time remained. But if none of his family aided him, and the unhappy man’s hope of redemption was frustrated, He commands that he should be set free in the jubilee year, in which a general enfranchisement took place as regarded the children of Abraham. The object of the law was, that none of those whom God had adopted, should be alienated from their race, and thus should depart from the true worship of God Himself. The whole of this is comprehended in the last verse, where God declares that the children of Abraham were His property, inasmuch as He had led them forth from the land of Egypt, and, on the other hand, that He is their peculiar God. For, whilst it was just that they should enjoy His blessing, so also it behooved that they should be kept sound in His pure and undivided worship; whereas, if they had been the slaves of Gentiles, not only would the elect people have been diminished in numbers, but circumcision would have been corrupted and a door opened to impious perversions. Yet God so mitigates His law as to lay no unjust burden upon sojourners, since He concedes more to them, with respect to Hebrew slaves, than to the natives of the land; for if they had sold themselves to their brethren, they went forth free in the seventh year, whilst their slavery under sojourners was extended to the fiftieth year. This exception only was introduced that the stranger who had bought slaves should enfranchise them on the payment of their value. Since God had previously promised to His people a large and manifold abundance of all good things, the poverty here adverted to could only occur from the curse of God; 155 we see, therefore, that of His incomparable loving-kindness He stretches forth His hand to the transgressors of His law; and, whilst He chastises them with poverty, still looks upon them, unworthy as they are, and provides a remedy for the ills which their own guilt had brought upon them.
23. The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.
23. Terra autem non vendetur absolute, quia mea est terra: vos enim peregrini, et advenae estis apud me.
24. And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land.
24. In universa autem terra possessionis vestrae redemptionem dabitis terrae.
25. If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.
25. Quum attenuatus fuerit frater tuus, et vendiderit de possessione sua: tunc veniet redemptor ejus propinquus ipsi: et redimet venditionem fratris sui.
26. And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able to redeem it;
26. Et, si non fuerit viro redemptor, sed apprehenderit manus ejus, et invenerit quod sufficit ad ejus redemptionem;
27. Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it, that he may return unto his possession.
27. Tunc supputabit annos venditionis suae, et restituet quod superest viro cui vendidit, et revertetur ad possessionem suam.
28. But if he be not able to restore it to him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubilee: and in the jubilee it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession.
28. Si vero non invenerit manus ejus quod sufficiat ad reddendum illi, tum erit venditio ejus in manu ejus, qui emit illum, usque ad annum Jubilaei: at egredietur in Jubilaeo, reverteturque ad possessionem suam.
29. And if a man sell a dwelling-house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold: within a full year may he redeem it.
29. Vir autem quum vendiderit domum habitationis in urbe murata, erit redemptio ejus donec compleatur annus venditionis ejus: anno uno erit redemptio ejus.
30. And if it be not redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house that is in the walled city shall be established for ever to him that bought it, throughout his generations: it shall not go out in the jubilee.
30. Quod si non redimatur donec impleatur illi annus integer, remanebit domus quae fuerit in civitate cui est murus, absolute ementi illam in generationibus ejus: non egredietur in Jubilaeo.
31. But the houses of the villages, which have no walls round about them, shall be counted as the fields of the country; they may be redeemed, and they shall go out in the jubilee.
31. Domus autem villarum quibus non est murus in circuitu, secundum agrum terrae aestimabitur, redemptio erit ei, et in Jubilaeo egredietur.
32. Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, and the houses of the cities of their possession, may the Levites redeem at any time.
32. Urbium autem Levitarum, et domorum urbium possessionis eorum, redemptio perpetua erit Levitis.
33. And if a man purchase of the Levites, then the house that was sold, and the city of his possession, shall go out in the year of jubilee: for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel.
33. Qui autem emerit a Levitis, egredietur venditio domus, et urbis possessionis ejus in Jubilaeo, quia domus urbium Levitatum est possessio eorum in medio filiorum Israel.
34. But the field of the suburbs of their cities may not be sold; for it is their perpetual possession.
34. Ager autem suburbii urbium eorum non vendetur, quia possessio perpetua est illis.
23. The land shall not be sold for ever. Since the reason for this law was peculiar to the children of Abraham, its provisions can hardly be applied to other nations; for so equal a partition of the land was made under Joshua, that the inheritance was distributed amongst the several tribes and families; nay, in order that each man’s possession should be more sacred, the land had been divided by lot, as if God by His own hand located them in their separate stations. In fact, that allotment was, as it were, an inviolable decree of God Himself, whereby the memory of the covenant should be maintained, by which the inheritance of the land had been promised to Abraham and his posterity; and thus the land of Canaan was an earnest, or symbol, or mirror, of the adoption on which their salvation was founded. Wherefore it is not to be wondered at that God was unwilling that this inestimable benefit should ever be lost; and, lest this should be the case, like a provident father of a family, He laid a restraint on His children, to prevent them from being too prodigal; for, when a man has any suspicions of his heir, he forbids him to alienate the patrimony he leaves him. Such, therefore, was the condition of the ancient people; yet it cannot be indiscriminately transferred to other nations who have had no common inheritance given them. Some vestige of it appears in the right of redemption; 156 but, because that depends on the consent of the parties, and is also a special mode of contract, it has nothing to do with the law of Moses, which entirely restored both men and lands, (in the year of jubilee, 157 ) That God should call the land of Canaan His, is, as it were, to assert His direct Lordship 158 (dominium,) as they call it, over it; as He immediately afterwards more clearly expresses His meaning, where He says that the children of Israel sojourn in it as His guests. 159 For although their condition was the best in which just and perpetual owners can be placed, still, as respected God, they were but His tenants (coloni,) only living there at His will. In fine, God claims the freehold (fundum) for Himself, lest the recollection of tits having granted it to them should ever escape them.
24. And in all the land of your possession. Before the jubilee came, He permits not only the relations to redeem land sold by a poor man, but the seller also, if no other redeemer interposed. The same power was also given to relations amongst other nations, though with a different object, viz., the preservation of the family name; still, the seller was never allowed to redeem, unless a special clause to that effect was contained in the contract. But God desired that the lands should be retained by their legal possessor, in order that the people might deviate as little as possible from the division made by Joshua. Meanwhile, He had in view the private advantage of individuals; but in the perpetual succession to the land He considered Himself rather than men, in order that the recollection of His kindness should never be lost. Finally, He orders all lands to return in the year of jubilee to their original owners; and all sales to be cancelled, as if, in the fiftieth year, he renewed the lot for the division of the land.
29. And if a man sell a dwelling-house. He here distinguishes houses from lands, providing that the power of redemption should not extend beyond a year; and also, that the purchase should hold good even in the jubilee. A second distinction, however, is also added between different kinds of houses, viz., that houses in towns might be altogether alienated, whilst the condition of those in the country should be the same as that of the lands themselves, as being annexed so as to form part of them. As regarded houses fix towns, because they were sometimes burdensome to their owners, it was an advantage that they might pass into the hands of the rich who were competent to bear the expenses of building. Besides, a house does not supply daily food like a field, and it is more tolerable to be without a house than a field, in which you may work, and from the cultivation of which you may support yourself and family. But it was necessary to except houses in the country, because they were appendages to the land; for what use would there be in harvesting the fruits, if you had no place to store them in? Nay, what would it profit to possess a farm which you could not cultivate? for how could oxen plough without any stalls in its vicinity? Since, then, lands without farm-buildings or cottages are almost useless, and they cannot be conveniently separated, justly did God appoint that, in the year of Jubilee, every rural possession should revert to its former owner.
32. Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites. Another exception, that the Levites should recover the houses they had sold, either by the right of redemption, or gratuitously in the year of jubilee. And this is not only appointed out of favor to them, but because it concerned the whole people, that they should be posted like sentries in the place which God had assigned to them. As to the suburbs, or the lands destined for the support of their cattle, God forbids their alienation, because thus they would have forsaken their proper station and removed elsewhere; whereas it was of importance to the whole people that such a dispersion should not occur.
Deut. 20:19, 20
19. When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down, (for the tree of the field is man’s life,) to employ them in the siege:
19. Si obsederis urbem, diebus multis pugnando adversus eam, ut capias eam, non disperdes arbores ejus, impellendo in eas securim: quia ex illarum fructibus vesceris, propterea ipsas non succides: (quia an homo arbor agri ut ingrediatur a facie tua in munitionem?)
20. Only the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it be subdued.
20. Veruntamen arbores quas noveris non esse fructiferas, disperdes, et succides: et aedificabis munitionem adversus urbem illam quae tecum dimicat, donec descendat ipsa.
19. When thou shalt besiege a city a long time. I have not hesitated to annex this precept to the Eighth Commandment, for when God lays a restraint on the liberty of inflicting injuries in the very heat of war, with respect to felling trees, much more did He desire His people to abstain from all mischievous acts in time of peace. The sum is, that although the laws of war opened the gate to plunder and rapine, still they were to beware, as much as possible, lest the land being desolated, it should be barren for the future; in short, that the booty was so to be taken from the enemy, as that the advantage of the human race should still be considered, and that posterity might still be nourished by the trees which do not quickly arrive at the age of fruit-bearing. He commands them to spare fruit-trees, first of all, for this reason, because they supply food to all men; and thus the blessing of God is manifested in them. He then adds, as a second reason, that trees are exposed to everybody, whereby He signifies that war should not be waged with them as with men. This passage is indeed variously explained, but the sense which I have chosen accords very well and appears to be the right one. For, 160 although the letter ה is demonstrative, according to the rules of grammar, and thus points out the enemy; yet, in my opinion, the sentence is to be taken interrogatively. But מצור, matzor, signifies rather a bulwark than a siege. God, therefore, indirectly reproves the stupidity and madness of men, who, when in arms, exert their strength against a tree which does not move from its place, but waits to meet them. Thus the open field is contrasted with the bulwark. Meanwhile, God permits ramparts and palisadoes, and other machines used in sieges, to be made of trees which do not bear fruit, and only provides that the tempest of war, which ought to be momentary, should not strip the land of its ornaments for many years. Still, there is no such strict rule laid down as that a fruit-tree may not be cut down if necessity demands it; but God restrains the Israelites from giving way to destruction and devastation under the impulse of anger and hatred, and in forgetfulness of the calls of humanity.
14. And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.
14. Si non placuerit tibi uxor captiva, dimittes eam pro desiderio suo: nec vendendo vendes eam pecunia, neque negotiaberis de ea, quod afflixeris eam.
15. If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have borne him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the first-born son be her’s that was hated:
15. Quum fuerint viroduae uxores, una dilecta et altera exosa, et pepererit ei filios dilecta et exosa, fuerit autem filius primogenitus exosae:
16. Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved first-born before the son of the hated, which is indeed the first-born:
16. Die quo haeredes instituet filios suos eorum quae habuerit, non poterit dare jus primogeniturae filio dilectae ante filium exosae primogenitum.
17. But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the first-born, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the first-born is his.
17. Sed primogenitum filium exosae agnoscet, ut det ei mensuram duorum ex omnibus quae habuerit: ipse enim principium fortitudinis ejus, ipsius est jus primogeniturae.
14. And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her. I have been compelled to separate this sentence from the foregoing context which I have explained elsewhere; 161 for Moses there gave instructions how a captive woman was to be taken to wife if her beauty attracted a Jewish husband. That law then had reference to chastity and conjugal fidelity, and especially to the purity of God’s worship; but now Moses prescribes that, if a man have dishonored a captive woman, he should not sell her, but let her go free, and by this satisfaction wipe out, or at any rate diminish, the injury. Hence we infer that this rule of justice depends on the Eighth Commandment, Let none defraud another. This condition was at least tolerable for the captive; for, although chastity is a special treasure, yet liberty, which is justly called an inestimable blessing, was no trifling consolation to her. The penalty, then, of lust, was that the conqueror should lose his booty.
15. If a man have two wives. Inasmuch as it is here provided that a father should not unjustly transfer what belongs to one son to another, it is a part and supplement of the Eighth Commandment, the substance of which is, that every one’s rights should be preserved to him. For, if the father substituted another son in the place of his first-born, it was unquestionably a kind of theft. But, since it rarely happens that a father unnaturally degrades his first-born from his precedence, if all are born of the same mother, God reminds us that He did not enact this law without cause; for, where polygamy was allowed, the mind of the husband was generally most inclined to the second wife; because, if he had loved the first with true affection, he would have been contented with her as the companion of his life and bed, and would not have thought of a second. When, therefore, the husband grew tired of his first wife, and desired a second, he might be coaxed by her blandishments to leave away from the children of his first marriage what naturally belonged to them. Hence, therefore, the necessity of the remedy whereby the father’s power of altering the right of primogeniture is barred; for, although they might allege that they only gave what was their own, yet it was an act of ungodly arrogance to reject him whom God had deigned to honor. For he who arrogates such power to himself, or who assigns the birth-right to whom he will, almost arrogates to himself the ability to create. This right, as is stated in verse 17, was a double portion of the paternal inheritance. The reason which is added, is equivalent to saying, that the first-born is the principal honor and ornament of the father. Still, if there was a just cause for disinheriting the first-born, another successor might be substituted in his stead, as Jacob shewed in his case when he disinherited Reuben. (Ge 49:4.) When it is said, “before the son of the hated,” some expound it to mean “during his lifetime;” others retain the Hebrew phrase, “before his face.” Their opinion, however, is probable, who take this particle comparatively, for “instead of her son.” The wife is called hated, not that her husband is positively her enemy, but because he loves her least; for contempt is considered as hatred, and he is called an enemy who does not render conjugal benevolence.
5. And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it.
5. Quum bellandum erit, alloquentur praefecti populum, dicendo, Quis est vir qui aedificavit domum novam, et non dedicavit eam? abeat, et revertatur ad domum suam, ne forte moriatur in praelio, et alius dedicet eam.
6. And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it.
6. Et quis est vir qui plantavit vineam, et non fecit eam communem? abeat et revertatur ad domum suam: ne forte moriatur in praelio, et alius communem eam faciat.
7. And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.
7. Et quis est vir qui despondit mulierem, et non accepit eam? abeat et revertatur domum suam ne forte moriatur in praelio, et alius eam accipiat.
8. And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and faint-hearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart.
8. Addent praefecti alloqui populum, dicendo, Quis est vir timidus et mollis corde? abeat, et revertatur domum suam, ne dissolvatur cor fratrum ejus, sicut cor illius.
5. And the officers shall speak unto the people. I have added the commencement, “quum bellandum erit,” (when there shall be war,) that my readers may know what is the subject here discussed; for although the instruction given may seem somewhat remote from the prohibition of theft, still it accords well, and is closely connected with it. For by this indulgence God shews how just it is, that every one should enjoy peaceably what he possesses; because, if it be hard that men on account of war should be deprived of the use of their new house, or of the produce of their vineyard, how much more harsh and intolerable it will be to deprive men of their fortunes, or to drive them from the lands which they justly call their own! Since, therefore, it is expedient for the state that vineyards should be sown or planted, and that houses should be built, whilst men would not address themselves to these duties with sufficient alacrity, unless encouraged by the hope of enjoying them, God gives them the privilege of exemption from fighting, if they be owners of new houses which they have not yet inhabited. He makes also the same appointment as to possessors of vineyards, if they have not yet tasted of the fruit of their labor, and will not have men torn from their affianced wives until they have enjoyed their embraces. A different principle applies to a fourth class, because the faint-hearted and lazy are not deserving that God should have consideration for their cowardice, when they shun dangers to be incurred for the public welfare; but because it concerns the whole people that soldiers should go forth readily to war, God will not have more required from any one than he is disposed to bear. We now understand the substance of this passage, viz., that, when every man’s right is asserted to enjoy what he possesses, it extends so far as that a man who has built a house should not be dragged unwillingly to war, until by dwelling in it he shall have received some advantage from the expenses incurred. To make a vineyard common, 162 or to profane it, is equivalent to applying the vintage to the common uses of life; for it was not lawful, as we saw under the First Commandment, 163 to gather its first-fruits, as if it were as yet uncircumcised; therefore the recompence for their industry and diligence is made when those who have planted vines are thus set free, until they have enjoyed some of their produce. As regards the betrothed, although it seems to have been an indulgence granted in honor of marriage, that they should return to the wives whom they had not yet enjoyed, yet it is probable that they were not torn away from the dearest of all possessions, in order that every man’s property should be maintained. Besides, if the hope of progeny were taken away, the inheritance would be thus transferred to others, which would have been tantamount to diverting it from its rightful owner. We have said that the lazy and timid were sent home, that the Israelites might learn that none were to be pressed beyond their ability; and this also depends upon that rule of equity 164 which dictates that we should abstain from all unjust oppression.
5. If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.
5. Quum habitaverint fratres pariter, et mortuus fuerit unus ex ipsis, nec fuerit ei filius, non abnubet uxor mortui viro extraneo: cognatus ejus ingredietur ad eam, et capiet eam sibi in uxorem, et affinitatem contrahet cum ea.
6. And it shall be, that the first-born which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.
6. Atque ita primogenitus quem peperit, surget nomine fratris ejus defuncti: ne deleat nomen ejus ex Israele.
7. And if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.
7. Quod si noluerit vir ille accipere affinem suam, tunc ascendet ipsa ad portam ad seniores, et dicet, Renuit affinis meus suscitare fratri suo nomen in Israele, nec vult affinitatem contrahere mecum.
8. Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her;
8. Tunc accersent illum seniores urbis illius, et loquentur cum eo: et ubi steterit, ac dixerit, Non placet accipere eam:
9. Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house.
9. Accedet postea cognata ejus ad ipsum in oculis seniorum, et solvet calceamentum ejus a pede ipsius, et spuet in faciem ejus: loqueturque, ac dicet, Sic fiet viro qui non aedificaverit domum fratris sui.
10. And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.
10. Et vocabitur nomen ejus in Israel, Domus discalceati.
5. If brethren dwell together, and one of them die. This law has some similarity with that which permits a betrothed person to return to the wife, whom he has not yet taken; since the object of both is to preserve to every man what he possesses, so that he may not be obliged to leave it to strangers, but that he may have heirs begotten of his own body: for, when a son succeeds to the father, whom he represents, there seems to be hardly any change made. Hence, too, it is manifest how greatly pleasing to God it is that no one should be deprived of his property, since He makes a provision even for the dying, that what they could not resign to others without regret and annoyance, should be preserved to their offspring. Unless, therefore, his kinsman should obviate the dead man’s childlessness, this inhumanity is accounted a kind of theft. For, since to be childless was a curse of God, it was a consolation in this condition to hope for a borrowed offspring, that the name might not be altogether extinct.
Since we now understand the intention of the law, we must also observe that the word brethren does not mean actual brothers, but cousins, and other kinsmen, whose marriage with the widows of their relative would not have been incestuous; otherwise God would contradict Himself. But these two things are quite compatible, that no one should uncover the nakedness of his brother, and yet that a widow should not marry out of her husband’s family, until she had raised up seed to him from some relation. In fact, Boaz did not marry Ruth because he was the brother of her deceased husband, but only his near kinsman. If any should object that it is not probable that other kinsmen should dwell together, I reply that this passage is improperly supposed to refer to actual living together, as if they dwelt in the same house, but that the precept is merely addressed to relations, whose near residence rendered it convenient to take the widows to their own homes; for, if any lived far away, liberty was accorded to both to seek the fulfillment of the provision elsewhere. Surely it is not probable that God would have authorized an incestuous marriage, which He had before expressed His abomination of. Nor can it be doubted, as I have above stated, but that the like necessity was imposed upon the woman of offering herself to the kinsman of her former husband; and although there was harshness in this, still she seemed to owe this much to his memory, that she should willingly raise up seed to the deceased; yet, if any one think differently, I will not contend the point with him. If, however, she were not obliged to do so, it was absurd that she should voluntarily obtrude herself: nor was there any other reason why she should bring to trial the kinsman, from whom she had suffered a repulse, except that she might acquire the liberty of marrying into another family. Yet it is not probable that he was to be condemned to an ignominious punishment, without being admitted to make his defense, because sometimes just reasons for refusal might be alleged. This disgrace, therefore, was only a penalty for inhumanity or avarice. By giving up his shoe, he renounced his right of relationship, and gave it up to another: for, by behaving so unkindly towards the dead, he became unworthy of reaping any of the advantages of his relationship.
The negative added from Fr. See A. Gell. 11:18.
“Il est dit en la loy;” it is said in the law. — Fr.
This first opinion is “that (says Corn. a Lapide) of S. Thomas, 1:2. q. 105, art. 2. ad 9., after Strabo; God commands that a thief should restore five oxen for one, because the ox has five utilities; first, it is killed in sacrifice; secondly, its flesh is eaten; thirdly, it ploughs; fourthly, it gives milk; fifthly, it supplies leather; — whilst a sheep only has four advantages; for, first, it is slain in sacrifice; secondly, its flesh is eaten; thirdly, it gives milk; fourthly, it gives wool.” The second opinion is attributed to Junius by Willet, “oportet hunc furem audacem, et versutum esse.”
This provision of the Twelve Tables is thus given by A. Gell. 11. ult., “Si nox furtum faxit, sim (si eum) quis occisit, jure caesus esto: si luci furtum faxit, sim aliquis endo (in) ipso furto capsit, verberator, illique, cui furtum factum escit (erit) addicitor, sed non nisi is, qui interemturus erat, quiritaret,” i.e., shall have called out for assistance.
“Sed enim M. Cato in oratione quam de praeda militibus dividenda scripsit, vehementibus et illustribus verbis de impunitate peculatus atque licentia conqueritus. Ea verba, quoniam nobis impense placuerunt, adscripsimus: Fures (inquit) privatorum furtorum in nervo atque in compedibus aetatem agunt: fures autem publici in auto atque in purpura.” — A. Gell. 11 ult.
“Le Dieu vivant.” — Fr.
C.’s view of these words seems to be adopted by none of the commentators. They understand them more simply, that the restitution was to be made in kind, and of the best of the aggressor’s produce. Whether we read with C. “bonum agri,” or with others “de bono,” or “de optimo,” as Dathe and A. V., does not appear to affect this sense.
“Que la beste se soit esvanouye sans qu’il en ait rien sceu;” in that the beast has vanished without his knowing anything about it. — Fr.
For these latter words, which I hardly understand, the following are substituted in Fr., “Cela touche quant et quant a son service et religion.”
Added from Fr.
“The Chaldee translateth, when thou art hired; and of such do the Hebrews understand this Law, that laborers hired to work in a vineyard are to eat of the fruit thereof.” — Ainsworth. So also Vatablus from the Chaldee and Arabic, in Poole’s Synopsis.
“Cueille des espis, ou des raisins pour sa necessite,” should gather ears of corn or grapes for his necessary wants. — Fr.
“The Hebrews (says Ainsworth) for the most part hold the remission to be perpetual.” He, however, argues from the word שמטה, an intermission, and its use in that sense in Ex 23:11, that C.’s interpretation is the correct one. So also Dathe, who quotes Jos. Meyer in his Treatise on the Festivals of the Jews, ch. 17 sec. 20; and Michaelis, in his Laws of Moses, P. 3. sec. 157.
A. V., “all your labors;” margin, “things wherewith ye grieve others; Heb., griefs;” C.’s own version, “omnes facultates vestras exigitis.”
S. M., However. A. V., Save when; or, in its margin, To the end that. S.M. refers to Jewish expositors as saying, “The meaning is, Thou shalt not fear that this law may do you an injury; for, if you be such zealous observers of my precepts, I will so bless you, and make all things needful for you to increase, that there shall be no poor man amongst you, to whom you need give what is lent. And if there be any person needing your assistance, and ye, for my sake, forgive his debt, as I have commanded, the man who doth thus shall not lose what was owed him, but shall receive from me a more abundant blessing.” The learned reader may find this expression further discussed in Noldii Concord. partic. Art., 509 of Annot and Vindic. — W.
“I know that ye will not obey me with a perfect heart, and therefore my blessing shall be lessened towards you, and there shall be poor among you.” Hebrew commentators quoted in Munster and Fagius. — Poole’s Syn.
“Pour tormenter, et gehener les poures serfs.” — Fr.
“The Chaldee, Vatablus, and other more recent commentators translate it, Since he has served thee for six years for double the wages of a hireling; which the Hebrews thus explain, that the wages of a slave of six years’ standing are called double, because hirelings amongst the Hebrew’s only engaged themselves for three years, whereas the slave served for sir years; therefore he served twice as long, and earned twice as much.” — Corn. a Lapide in loco.
Seneca de Benef. 3:22. “Servus (ut placet Chrysippo) perpetuus mercenarius est.” See also Sen. Epp. 6:47, in which the following beautiful sentiment occurs: “Haec tamen mei praecepti summa est, Sic cum inferiore vivas, quemadmodum tecum superiorem velis vivere.”
So the Hebrew doctors, and Ainsworth, Caietan, and Willet. Michaelis supposes that servants were regularly restored to freedom after six years’ service, (not on the Sabbatical year, but on the seventh from the sale;) but supposing them bought less than six years before the jubilee, they received their freedom on that year. Laws of Moses, vol. 2 p. 176. — Brightwell.
See Margin of A. V.
“Or la diversite d’entre les estrangers, et les enfans d’Israel n’est pas seulement mis, etc.;” now the diversity between strangers and the children of Israel is not only placed, etc. — Fr.
See Margin of A.V. on Le 25:46. “His in perpetuum tanquam servis utamini, popularibus vero vestris Israelitis ne severius imperetis.” — Dathe.
Addition in Fr., “Et d’un juste chastiment de leurs pechez;” and as a just chastisement of their sins.
“Redemptio in Law, a faculty or right of re-entering upon lands, etc., that have been sold and assigned, upon reimbursing the purchase-money with legal costs. Bargains wherein the faculty, or, as some call it, the equity of redemption is reserved, are only a kind of pignorative contracts. A certain time is limited, within which the faculty, of redemption shall be exercised; and beyond which it shall not extend. — Chambers’s Encyclopaedia.
Added from Fr.
“La seigneurie directe (qu’on appelle,) ou fonsiere.” — Fr.
Addition in Fr., “Ou fermiers, ou grangiers.”
S M. and the LXX. agree in regarding ה as interrogative here, hence S M. renders the clause, “Thinkest thou that the tree of the field is man that he must depart from thy face in the siege?” and he quotes Rabbi Solomon as giving a similar exposition. But he also quotes Aben-Ezra as rendering the clause in the same manner as our A V. The word מצור admits of either of the two interpretations quoted by C. — W
Dathe’s version is, “for they (i.e. the trees) are appointed by God for the use of men,” and he thinks that Moses undoubtedly had in view the precept in Ge 1:29.
Vide vol. 2, p. 70.
See margin of A.V., ver. 6.
See on Leviticus 19:23, vol. 2, p. 49.
“Et cela est de l’equite commune, a laquelle se rapporte le Huitieme Commandement;” and this is a part of that common equity to which the Eighth Commandment has reference. — Fr.