Exodus 22:2

2 “If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed;

Exodus 22:2 in Other Translations

2 If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him.
2 If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him,
2 “If a thief is caught in the act of breaking into a house and is struck and killed in the process, the person who killed the thief is not guilty of murder.
2 If the thief is caught while breaking in and is hit hard and dies, there is no bloodguilt.
2 If a thief is caught in the act of breaking in, and he is beaten to death, no one is guilty of bloodshed.

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 “Whoever steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.
2 “If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed;
3 but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed. “Anyone who steals must certainly make restitution, but if they have nothing, they must be sold to pay for their theft.
4 If the stolen animal is found alive in their possession—whether ox or donkey or sheep—they must pay back double.
5 “If anyone grazes their livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in someone else’s field, the offender must make restitution from the best of their own field or vineyard.

Cross References 2

  • 1. Job 24:16; Jeremiah 2:34; Hosea 7:1; Matthew 6:19-20; Matthew 24:43
  • 2. Numbers 35:27
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