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Exodus 22:1-15, Laws of Restitution

Thursday, June 14

Restitution is Restoration

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

 repair a broken heart

repair a broken heart

While it may seem obvious that stolen or damaged property should be repaired, replaced, or restored, let's look at the issue a little deeper. We might say, it's just stuff, or it's only money. But when our things are stolen or broken by another person, it's more than just stuff. Our possessions are an external representation of the time, care, and personal investment it took to secure those items. Damaging our stuff is an offense on us, too.

Restitution not only serves to repair the damage done to our stuff and our person. It also serves to repair the damage done to our relationships. Restitution is an exchange of one person's time, energy, and personal investment to another. And, as we were created to live in community, these relationships are critical to our survival.

Who might you owe restitution to? Have you damaged something that belongs to someone else? Have you damaged your relationships? Consider offering restitution for what you have done. And remember to accept the restitution offered by others.


Narrative Lectionary Text: Exodus 22:1-15

When someone steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, the thief shall pay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. The thief shall make restitution, but if unable to do so, shall be sold for the theft. When the animal, whether ox or donkey or sheep, is found alive in the thief’s possession, the thief shall pay double. If a thief is found breaking in, and is beaten to death, no bloodguilt is incurred; but if it happens after sunrise, bloodguilt is incurred. When someone causes a field or vineyard to be grazed over, or lets livestock loose to graze in someone else’s field, restitution shall be made from the best in the owner’s field or vineyard. When fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, the one who started the fire shall make full restitution.

When someone delivers to a neighbor money or goods for safekeeping, and they are stolen from the neighbor’s house, then the thief, if caught, shall pay double. If the thief is not caught, the owner of the house shall be brought before God, to determine whether or not the owner had laid hands on the neighbor’s goods. In any case of disputed ownership involving ox, donkey, sheep, clothing, or any other loss, of which one party says, “This is mine,” the case of both parties shall come before God; the one whom God condemns shall pay double to the other. When someone delivers to another a donkey, ox, sheep, or any other animal for safekeeping, and it dies or is injured or is carried off, without anyone seeing it, an oath before the Lord shall decide between the two of them that the one has not laid hands on the property of the other; the owner shall accept the oath, and no restitution shall be made. But if it was stolen, restitution shall be made to its owner. If it was mangled by beasts, let it be brought as evidence; restitution shall not be made for the mangled remains. When someone borrows an animal from another and it is injured or dies, the owner not being present, full restitution shall be made. If the owner was present, there shall be no restitution; if it was hired, only the hiring fee is due.