Exodus 22:15

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.

Exodus 22:15 Meaning and Commentary

Exodus 22:15

But if the owner thereof be with it
When it is hurt or dies; for in some cases the owner might go along with his beast, being borrowed or hired to do work with it; or, however, being upon the spot, must be satisfied that it was not ill used; and it may be reasonably presumed he would do all he could to preserve it: and this being the case,

he shall not make it good;
that is, the borrower, but the loss would lie upon the lender; seeing this might have been the case if it had been at home, and not borrowed or lent. The Jewish writers understand all this in a different manner, that if the owner is not with it in the time of borrowing, though he is with it in the time of its being hurt, or of its death, the borrower must pay; but if he was with it in the time of borrowing, though not in the time of its receiving damage, or of its death, the borrower was free F3; for, as Jarchi says, whether it be in that work (for which he was borrowed), or in another work (it matters not), if he was with it at the time of borrowing, there was no necessity of his being with it at the time of its hurt or death. The reason of which, I must confess, I do not understand; unless the meaning is, that it was necessary that the owner, and the beast, should be both borrowed or hired together; and which indeed seems to be the sense of the Misnah, or tradition F4, which runs thus,

``if a man borrows a cow, and borrows or hires its owner with it; or if he hires or borrows the owner, and after that borrows the cow, and it dies, he is free, as it is said, ( Exodus 22:15 ) but if he borrows the cow, and afterwards borrows or hires the owner, and it dies, he is bound to pay, as it is said, ( Exodus 22:13 ) if his owner is not with it''

If it be an hired thing, it came for its hire; that is, if the beast which was come to some damage, or was dead, was hired, and not borrowed, then, whether the owner was with it or not at that time, he could demand no more than hire, and the person that hired it was obliged to pay that and no more; or if the owner himself was hired along with his beast, and so was present when it received its damage, or its death, nothing more could come to him than what he agreed for.


FOOTNOTES:

F3 Misn. Bava Metzia, c. 8. sect. 1. Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.
F4 Ibid.

Exodus 22:15 In-Context

13 If it be torn in pieces, then let him bring it for witness, and he shall not make good that which was torn.
14 And if a man borrow ought of his neighbour, and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof being not with it, he shall surely make it good.
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.
16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.
17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.