Exodus 22:2

2 [a] If a thief is found 1breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him,

Exodus 22:2 Meaning and Commentary

Exodus 22:2

If a thief be found breaking up
An house, in order to steal money, jewels, household goods or breaking through any fence, hedge, or wall of any enclosure, where oxen, or sheep, or any other creatures are, in order to take them away: the Targum of Jonathan is,

``if in the hole of a wall (or window of it) a thief be found;''

that is, in the night, as appears from the following verse, "if the sun" to which this is opposed, as Aben Ezra observes; some render it, with a digging instrument F24; and it is a Jewish canon F25, that

``if anyone enter with a digging instrument: he is condemned on account of his end;''

his design, which is apparent by the instrument found upon him; for, as Maimonides F26 observes,

``it is well known, that if anyone enters with a digging instrument, that he intends, if the master of the house opposes him to deliver his goods out of his power, that he will kill him, and therefore it is lawful to kill him; but it does not signify whether he enters with a digging instrument, either by the way of the court, or roof;''

and be smitten that he die
be knocked down with a club, by the master of the house, or any of his servants, or be run through with a sword, or be struck with any other weapon, to hinder him from entrance and carrying off any of the goods of the house, and the blow be mortal: there shall no blood be shed for him: as for a man that is murdered; for to kill a man when breaking into a house, and, by all appearance, with an intention to commit murder, if resisted, in defence of a man's self, his life and property, was not to be reckoned murder, and so not punishable with death: or, "no blood" shall be "unto him" F1; shall be imputed to him, the man that kills the thief shall not be chargeable with his blood, or suffer for shedding it; because his own life was risked, and it being at such a time, could call none to his assistance, nor easily discern the person, nor could know well where and whom he struck.


F24 (trtxmb) "cum perfossorio", Pagninus; "cum instrumento perfosserio", Tigurine version.
F25 Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 8. sect. 6.
F26 Comment. in ib.
F1 (Mymd wl Nya) "non ei sanguines", Montanus, Vatablus, Drusius.

Exodus 22:2 In-Context

1 "If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.
2 If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him,
3 but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him. He shall surely pay. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.
4 If the stolen beast is found alive in his possession, whether it is an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double.
5 "If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed over, or lets his beast loose and it feeds in another man's field, he shall make restitution from the best in his own field and in his own vineyard.

Cross References 1

Footnotes 1

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.