Exodus 22:4

4 If the stolen beast 1is found alive in his possession, whether it is an ox or a donkey or a sheep, 2he shall pay double.

Exodus 22:4 Meaning and Commentary

Exodus 22:4

If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive
Or, "in finding be found" F9, be plainly and evidently found upon him, before witnesses, as the Targum of Jonathan; so that there is no doubt of the theft; and it is a clear case that he had neither as yet killed nor sold the creature he had stolen, and to could be had again directly, and without any damage well as it would appear by this that he was not an old expert thief, and used to such practices, since he would soon have made away with this theft in some way or another:

whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep,
or any other creature; and even, as Jarchi thinks, anything else, as raiment, goods

he shall restore double;
two oxen for an ox, two asses for an ass, and two sheep for a sheep: and, as the same commentator observes, two living ones, and not dead ones, or the price of two living ones: so Solon made theft, by his law, punishable with death, but with a double restitution F11; and the reason why here only a double restitution and not fourfold is insisted on, as in ( Exodus 22:1 ) is, because there the theft is persisted in, here not; but either the thief being convicted in his own conscience of his evil, makes confession, or, however, the creatures are found with alive, and so more useful being restored, and, being had again sooner, the loss is not quite so great.


F9 (aumt aumh) "inveniendo inventum fuerit", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator.
F11 A. Gell, l. 11. c. 18.

Exodus 22:4 In-Context

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.
6 "If fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, he who started the fire shall make full restitution.

Cross References 2

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