If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children
Whether grown up or little, male or female, an Israelite or a proselyte, or a freed servant; all, as Maimonides F6 says, are included in this general word "brethren"; though Aben Ezra observes, that it is added, "of the children of Israel", for explanation, since an Edomite is called a "brother". Now, a man must be "found" committing this fact; that is, it must plainly appear, there must be full proof of it by witnesses, as Jarchi explains this word:
and maketh merchandise of him;
or rather uses him as a servant, and employs him in any service to the least profit and advantage by him, even to the value of a farthing; yea, if he does but lean upon him, and he supports him, though he is an old man that is stolen; this is serving a man's self by him, as Maimonides F7, which is what is forbidden as distinct from selling him, as follows:
or selleth him:
to others; and both these, according to the above writer F8, using him for service, and selling him, are necessary to make him guilty of death; not the one without the other; but reading them disjunctively, as we do, gives the better sense of the words:
then that thief shall die;
by strangling with a napkin, as the Targum of Jonathan; and so Maimonides F9 says, his death is by strangling:
and thou shall put evil away from among you;
both him that does evil, as the Targum of Jonathan, and the guilt of it by inflicting due punishment for it; and so deter from such practices, and prevent evil coming upon the body of the people, should such a sin be connived at; see ( Exodus 21:16 ) .
F6 Hichot Genibah, c. 9. sect. 6.
F7 Ib. sect. 2.
F8 Ib. sect. 3.
F9 Hilchot Genibah, c. 9. sect. 1. So R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 67. 1. interprets it of service.