|BIBLE STUDY SERIES #131, 132 and 133|
22 May, 1994
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
We, of the British-Israel-World Federation (Canada) Inc., believe that the prophecies which were spoken by The Almighty God to the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to King David, and which are recorded in the Bible, cannot be fully understood unless the purposes of God are seen to be unfolding and developing in the history of the literal descendants of those same Patriarchs and that King as promised in old time.
We, of this Federation, find that only the histories of the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred nations of the world today correspond to the multitudinous points of promise contained in Holy Writ. Thus, our teaching provides the key to an understanding of the Prophetic Scriptures. Such an understanding will gender a sense of certainty about the future for if God has fulfilled His promises thus far, the rest of those promises which lie ahead, and, above all most notably the promise of Salvation in Our Lord's sacrifice on The Cross, can be accepted as reliable and certain of fulfilment.
We find, moreover, that as subsequent events must match the prophetic requirements, only an interpretation of the Biblical record which envisages the fulfilments as taking place in large measure through the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the world today will demonstrate a correspondence to the marks outlined by the prophecies. It is the unfolding history of those kindred nations which reveals the outworking of the ancient promises made to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to King David. If it is not these Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples who form the largest proportion of the descendants in whom the promises are to find their fulfilment, then the prophetic promises have failed, and the promise of Salvation in Jesus Christ is thus drawn into disrepute and open question, for God will, in that case, have failed to fulfil His pledged word.
Almighty God has a Great Plan for the restoration of His Creation to that condition which will be most desirable for all who are willing to join with Him, in order to participate and to co-operate in forming the emerging Kingdom of God upon the earth. It is that plan of the development of God's Kingdom which we have been tracing through the Book of Genesis and the earlier chapters of the Book of Exodus in our present series of Bible Studies.
The plan is one in which the promised seed of those Patriarchs develops through subsequent generations into the Tribes of Israel, and eventually, having been given God's Laws at Mount Sinai, and the privilege of a form of marriage contract with God Himself, as we have seen, thenceforth to become God's partner in the development of the Kingdom of God upon the earth. It is that national entity, created in order to prepare a receptive setting into which Christ was to be born as the incarnate fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9), which is, upon His return in the Second advent, to be ruled as a willing people in a manner corresponding to the Kingdom of heaven upon the earth.
In forming such a Kingdom, there are certain requirements, and central between the Chief Authority, in this case, God Almighty, and those composing the Citizenry there must be a system of regulated interaction called Law. Such a Law Code must exist even in the heavenly interaction of The Loving Father and the Children of His Kingdom.
In the latest talks in this series of studies, we have been looking at each of the Ten Commandments, and we had then started to examine the case law or Judgments which follow these Commandments in the Biblical record. These formed the necessary rules of interaction among the Children of Israel and also the "mixed multitude" who accompanied them out of Egypt; people accustomed to generations of brutality and severity under Egyptian taskmasters.
Keil and Delitzsch introduce Exodus 21:18-32 as one unit, stating by way of comment that "Fatal blows and the crimes placed on a par with them are now followed in simple order by the laws relating to bodily injuries." Presently, we have arrived at Exodus 21:24, at a point wherein we find that God is actually ameliorating the harsher social contracts of the age of Bondage in Egypt; that bondage from which Israel has recently emerged in the Exodus.
Let us read today's passage, which continues the theme of punishments for injuring another person. Just previous to this, the record has spoken of strife between two men and the injury caused if a woman seeks to intervene between them and is hurt, resulting in the premature birth of her child. It continues in the words "And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life..."
We will begin at Exodus 21:24, with the usual breaks for comments as we progress. The sense of our passage follows on from the theme "And... thou shalt give...", a theme of payments for injuries, in the words:
24. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
25. Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
In the climate of today's opinions, particularly amongst those of Western lands who are accustomed to regard somewhat tepid judicial responses to lawbreaking as adequate, any such punishment which arises through a sense of the need for equality of retaliation may appear unduly harsh. However in evaluating such matters one must consider the prevailing social norms of the consenting population prior to the introduction of such regulations and the background against which such punishments is being set and administered.
What appears unduly harsh and even unjust to a customarily tolerant society may, when viewed against the crude justice meted out under a still more violent or tyrannical regime, appear positively benign.
Of this passage, the New Bible Commentary says "Life for life, eye for eye... The general principle of taliation is here introduced from the special instance noted in verse 22. The requirement that the offender should suffer an equivalent injury was even in Mosaic times commuted to a money fine except in the case of murder (see Nu. xxxv.31) and this later became the customary procedure. See Dt. xix. 21n."
The Companion Bible notes of the concept of "an eye for an eye" that "These laws made prisons unnecessary, and prevented crime."
26. And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye's sake.
27. And if he smite out his manservant's tooth, or his maidservant's tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth's sake.
Here the servant or slave receives rights which, among contemporary societies of that day, might not exist. The people standing before Mount Sinai were actually being given laws which regulated and restricted the oppressive owner, and favoured the servant or slave. They formed a necessary step upon the developing road towards that loving relationship of service commended in the Pauline epistle to Philemon, and explained by Christ to His disciples in Luke 22:24-30, and demonstrated by Christ in John 13:4-17. Let us close today's talk by reading portions of these two passages. Luke 22:24-30 says:
24. And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.
25. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
26. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
27. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.
28. Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.
29. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;
30. That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
John 13:4-5 says:
4. He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
There followed the protest of Peter at this display of apparently unseemly behaviour, which Christ explained to him. We pick up the account at verse 12:
12. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13. Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
15. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
16. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
17. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
Thus did Our Lord amplify and explain those attitudes of service which must prevail among His own, and which introduce mercy and love to stricture and subservient fear. We shall continue our studies on our next programme.
29 May, 1994
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
We, of the British-Israel-World Federation (Canada) Inc., believe that the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the present time are, in the main, direct descendants of the Tribes of ancient Israel who were deported by the Assyrians, and never returned to the land of their patriarchal forebears.
With this theme in view, we believe that the present-day Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred nations fulfil the requirements of prophecy as they, and they alone bear all the prophetic marks of Israel which Israel was to hold and experience in the latter days.
That being the case, the Laws given by Almighty God to the ancestral clans at Sinai still hold promise of national blessings for fulfilment particularly to these, but likewise in measure to any nation willing to observe the same in contrite respect to the God of the whole earth. Indeed, they are the same Laws to which Our Lord made reference in Matthew 5:19, in His great Sermon on the Mount. That statement reads "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
We have been examining each of these laws, called The Ten Commandments, during our recent Bible Studies, and following those, the case law or judgments which we find recorded in Exodus 21 and the chapters which follow this passage. On our last programme, we read the words which may be summed up in the phrase "an eye for an eye", and made comment thereon regarding the equity of purpose which we find embedded in this law system when compared to other systems of that time, and the further development of subsequent ideas concerning those judgments as history unfolded.
Today, we pick up our studies at Exodus 21:28. Here, more practical situations are raised as examples of the level of justice expected of God's people in becoming His nation at the foot of Mount Sinai. Let us read some words from the account found therein:
28. If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit.
29. But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death.
30. If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him.
31. Whether he have gored a son, or have gored a daughter, according to this judgment shall it be done unto him.
32. If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.
Of verse 28 in this passage, the New Bible Commentary has this to say: "Although a beast had no moral sense, this law was so ordered as to emphasize the extreme sanctity of human life. Even the ox which killed a man was to be put to death and its flesh so accursed that it might not be eaten; how much more should the man deserve death who knowingly allowed a dangerous beast to be at large. Yet the law was merciful in allowing a money compensation in place of the man's life. This is in contrast to the Code of Hammurabi which required like for like, and if a son or a daughter were killed so the owner of the ox should forfeit the life of his own son or daughter."
The New Bible Commentary (Revised) notes of the circumstance wherein money substituted for execution "If the relatives of the dead man were willing to accept a money compensation, however, the owner escaped death." We might see in this a partial parallel to the practice of hearing the views of aggrieved relatives of murder victims by way of impact statements in some jurisdictions before an impending penalty is weighed in a court of law.
If a casual Western listener feels inclined to dismiss the matters raised herein as Biblical, and thus of no real consequence in his present-day world, then he should try translating the situation to that of a home owner on the same street whose vicious dog kills a neighbour's family pet or mutilates a child, and one may then the more readily identify with the sense of equity and justice set forth herein.
I note that in verse 30, the words "then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him." do not limit the amount of the payment, and it is perhaps conceivable that one unable to pay could be forced to sell himself as a servant to pay off what the adjudicators stipulated. As the penalty relates to the ownership of a vicious ox that kills someone, the owner who knew of this judgment would be rather careful, I should think, to avoid such jeopardy as might result should the animal get loose.
I merely raise the question in my own mind, therefore, whether the same judgment might not also likewise apply in the case of a parole officer who soft-heartedly permits a convicted murderer to gain parole, during which time that murderer proceeds to commit another murder. Of course, if we applied God's laws as stipulated, the situation might not even arise as no compensation was to be accepted for the life of a murderer who is worthy of death (Numbers 35:31).
In verse 32, treating of the situation wherein the one gored or "pushed" was a slave, we read the stipulation that equity required the payment of thirty pieces of silver. On this point, Keil and Delitzsch comment "i.e. probably the ordinary price for the redemption of a slave, as the redemption price of a free Israelite was fifty shekels, Lev. xxvii.3" and they continue "There are other ancient nations in whose law books we find laws relating to the punishment of animals for killing or wounding a man, but not one of them had a law which made the owner of the animal responsible as well, for they none of them looked upon human life in its likeness of God."
Now let us proceed to verses 33-36, in which the judgments now change their field of focus from that of compensation for loss of life or injury to a person, to address matters in which property is lost or depreciated.
33. And if a man shall open a pit, or if a man shall dig a pit, and not cover it, and an ox or an ass fall therein;
34. The owner of the pit shall make it good, and give money unto the owner of them; and the dead beast shall be his.
35. And if one man's ox hurt another's, that he die; then they shall sell the live ox, and divide the money of it; and the dead ox also they shall divide.
36. Or if it be known that the ox hath used to push in time past, and his owner hath not kept him in; he shall surely pay ox for ox; and the dead shall be his own.
Speaking of verse 33, the New Bible Commentary says: "The pit would be a well or water storage tank, which should always be kept covered for safety. The owner is not to blame if a man falls in, for he should look where he is going. Having paid the full value of the live animal he may get what he can out of the carcase."
The approach to verse 35 in that Commentary is couched in these words: "Blame attaches to the owner of the vicious ox only if he knows its habits. Otherwise the loss is to be equally shared by the two owners."
Approaching these verses, Keil and Delitzsch note "in connection with the foregoing, the life of the animal, the most important possession of the Israelites, is first of all secured against destruction through carelessness. If any one opened or dug a pit or cistern, and did not close it up again, and another man's ox or ass (mentioned, for the sake of example, as the most important animals among the live stock of the Israelites) fell in and was killed, the owner of the pit was to pay its full value, and the dead animal to belong to him. If an ox that was not known to be vicious gored another man's ox to death, the vicious animal was to be sold, and its money (what it fetched) to be divided; the dead animal was also to be divided, so that both parties bore an equal amount of damage. If, on the other hand, the ox had been known to be vicious before, and had not been kept in, carefully secured, by its possessor, he was to compensate the owner of the one that had been killed with the full value of an ox, but to receive the dead one instead."
Of these judgments, the New Bible Commentary (Revised) makes the point that "The patent justice of vv. 33-36 is worth noting."
In all these questions of Law and Judgment, we, as Christians should keep ever before us the summary of all these laws in the admonition of Our Lord, stating "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" If we approached all questions of dispute, of vengeance or of compensation in the true spirit of what God intended throughout the entire process of Justice, we will find a more certain guide to a proper evaluation of every matter set before us. As we approach the day of Second Advent, and the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven here upon the earth, (for which we ask every time we utter the words of The Lord's Prayer), let us find in these Old Testament studies a further confirmation of the equity and justice ordered by our coming King of kings.
We ought to keep in mind Our Lord's promise to His chosen and designated disciples, found in Luke 22:30 "That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." How will they judge, except a Law Code, implanted in the Israel nation from its very foundation at Mount Sinai, and modified and developed by Christ Himself at His First Advent, be the guide and stay of all such judgments? We may with this in view find further reason to advocate and advance the process of adjusting our own laws to accord with the mind of the King of kings. How shall we even begin to ask that this be done if we know not the rudiments of these laws by scriptural examination as we are presently attempting it in this series of Bible Studies. We shall continue these studies on our next programme.
5 June, 1994
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
In the present series of Bible Studies, we have been tracing the developing Great Plan of Almighty God for the restitution of all things corrupted by the Adamic Fall. This Plan began in Genesis 3:17-19 and is briefly explained in Romans 5:8-19. The plan required from the seed of the woman, Eve, the separation of a line of un-mixed descent through Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel).
As Israel's family enlarged, his clan, having been led into Egypt under the protection of Joseph, formed the Tribes of Israel which were forced through subsequent bondage to yearn for release which God brought about through the Exodus.
Now these Tribes have been drawn to Mount Sinai where Yahweh, (Jehovah), the God (Elohim) of the whole earth is in the process of covenanting to establish a peculiar relationship of marriage with the nation. They are to this end receiving God's Laws, the Ten Commandments, and the Judgments which form the "case-law" extensions derived therefrom.
Our present readings have brought us to Exodus 22, to a section for which the more general heading might be stated as "Carelessness and Dishonesty", and we shall read the passage for today starting at the first verse of Chapter 22. In our customary manner, I shall insert comments as we read.
1. If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.
The Companion Bible notes of this Judgment that "So David judged, 2 Sam. 12.6." If we look up that reference, we may be surprised, for the culprit in the case was David, himself, although at the moment of rendering the judgment, he did not realise this! It is part of the account wherein the Prophet Nathan describes, in a parable, an occurrence in which a rich man steals the lamb which was a poor man's family pet in order to feed a guest. Upon hearing the account, David's anger burst forth in the words "As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity." Nathan replied "Thou art the man", because David had lusted for Bathsheba, resulting in her pregnancy, and had sought to extricate himself from the consequences by arranging the death of her husband, Uriah the Hittite, in battle.
2. If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him.
3. If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.
The Companion Bible explains that "found" means "caught in the act of...", whereas reference to the sun indicates that the thief had got away, but had been followed and killed in cold blood. I shall have more to say concerning that circumstance in a moment.
4. If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double.
We may see modern applications of this Judgment as holding some merit, when we contrast it with the present system which causes the victim, through taxation, to pay for the sequestering of the guilty in a correctional institution, but may not reimburse the victim for the loss of possessions and the time involved during the processes of justice!
Regarding "cattle-stealing", Keil and Delitzsch explain: "The law makes a distinction between what had been killed or sold, and what was still alive and in the thief's hand (or possession). In the latter case, the thief was to restore piece for piece twofold (ver. 4): in the former, he was to restore an ox fivefold and a small animal (a sheep or a goat) fourfold (ver. 1). The difference between the compensation for an ox and a small animal is to be accounted for from the comparative worth of the cattle to the possessor, which determined the magnitude of the theft and the amount of the compensation..."
Explaining why they differ from some others on possible explanations for the distinction, Keil and Delitzsch continue: "The reason can only have lain in the educational purpose of the law: viz. in the intention to lead the thief to repent of his crime, to acknowledge his guilt, and to restore what he had stolen. Now, as long as he still retained the stolen animal in his own possession, having neither consumed nor parted with it, this was always in his power; but the possibility was gone as soon as it had either been consumed or sold..."
We of the British-Israel-World Federation believe that the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples today descend in large measure from these ancient Israelites, so the re-institution of this law among our people might, by contrast, be of great benefit to a victim. Let us suggest just one example for the sake of argument. If a thief were to steal a car, even for an evening's joy-riding with friends, in a jurisdiction in which this law applied, and the car was deemed to fall into an equivalent category to that of the sheep in the case specified by this scripture, then that thief would not only be responsible for the return of the stolen vehicle in its original condition, but also for the provision to the victim of a second car. On top of this, a third, and a fourth car of equal value, or the means to purchase such, would be exacted should the vehicle become a wreck or pass out of the thief's possession!
Should the vehicle be deemed to fall into the category we might describe as "a means of livelihood", perhaps because it was a truck, or other business vehicle, then, like the ox of ancient time, in addition to the return of that truck, another of equal value would be required of the thief. However, the amount would rise to four other trucks of equivalent value which must be supplied by the thief if the truck was wrecked or non-returnable for any reason. Let us not dismiss these ancient Judgments as merely Biblical vestiges from a past age. Such a law might work wonders for the insurance rates presently paid by the victims and potential victims of such crimes today!
Regarding that matter of the thief breaking into a house, Keil and Delitzsch remark: "Into the midst of the laws relating to theft, we have one introduced here, prescribing what was to be done with the thief..."
There is a distinction drawn between a thief killed while in the act of a night robbery and one wherein the thief is later tracked down and killed. Killing the thief in the dark, or in the act, drew no penalty whereas "taking the law into one's own hands" after the danger of the immediate situation had passed would involve a change in evaluating the matter.
Keil and Delitzsch put it thus: "The reason for this disparity between a thief by night and one in the day is, that the power and intention of a nightly thief are uncertain, and whether he may not have come for the purpose of committing murder; and that by night, if thieves are resisted, they often proceed to murder in their rage; and also that they can neither be recognised, nor resisted and apprehended with safety." We must, of course, realise that being able to see the thief by means of a lamp, with the consequent possibility of later recognition would not materially alter the circumstance because the intentions of the thief within the victim's house would probably still be aggressive, and apt to involve imminent danger to the householder.
Likewise, should the thief present a threat of imminent violence directly to an intended victim, there would be no penalty in resisting that threat with force up to the point at which the threat had been neutralised or, if necessary, eliminated. Keil and Delitzsch comment regarding the case wherein the thief is caught later by the victim: "In the later case the slayer contracted blood-guiltiness, because even the life of a thief was to be spared, as he could be punished for his crime, and what was stolen be restored according to the regulations laid down in vers. 1 and 4. But if he had not sufficient to make retribution, he was to be sold 'for his stolen,' i.e. for the value of what he had stolen, that he might earn by his labour the compensation to be paid." We continue with Verse 5:
5. If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, and shall feed in another man's field; of the best of his own field, and of the best of his own vineyard, shall he make restitution.
Of this, the Companion Bible states "field..of. Between these two words the Sam(aritan) and Sept(uagint) have 'he shall surely make restitution out of his own field according to the yield thereof; and if the whole field be eaten'." The noted explanation, according to that reference, is that the eye of a copyist transcribing from an original has gone back to the ending of the second of two sentences, both ending with the word "field". Verse 6:
6. If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.
Of this, the New Bible Commentary states: "This would have been lit intentionally, e.g. to burn weeds, but insufficient care was taken to guard it from spreading." Here, the legal position might well be directly transferred to our own time, whether the destructive agent be fire or some other means such as serious pollution of the soil by industrial waste or that which destroys the usefulness of the possession through some other means. The principle would not alter, and justice might well follow this ancient precedent. Deliberate destruction by arson, on the other hand, might well fall into a more serious category, with increased compensation being required. Here again, insurance valuation might be beneficially affected by the strict implementation of this law.
Whether it be by intent or carelessness, the removal of the right to enjoy one's own possessions is deemed a crime by The LORD, and it is in general to be restored with an equivalent additional compensation, in order to equalise the matter in the scales of justice. Once again, we must remember that summary of all such matters of God's Law given by Jesus Christ in Matthew 19:19: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." We shall continue this study on our next programme.
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