No Stealing

"Thou shalt not steal." (Exodus 20:15)

The word translated "steal" is the Hebrew ganab and is restricted to acts done secretly. It figuratively describes wind sweeping something away unexpectedly (Job 21:18; 27:20) and illustrates the thief-like movements of military deserters (2 Samuel 19:4). It would fit the term "burglary."

Burglary was punishable on a graded scale. A 200 percent penalty was levied if the property was returned unharmed (Exodus 22:4, 7, 9), a 400 or 500 percent penalty if the property was damaged or destroyed (Exodus 22:1), and a 700 percent penalty if the property stolen was food (Proverbs 6:30-31). Personal indenture was enforced if the thief could not pay the monetary levy (Exodus 22:3).

The command extends to our care of the property of others. Loss due to negligence is considered stealing (Exodus 22:7, 10-13). This would also apply to unfair business practices that defraud either customers or employees (Leviticus 19:35-36).

In our personal lives, we are expected to repay our debts (Ezekiel 33:15; 18:7, 12, 16) and pay our taxes (Romans 13:5-8; Matthew 22:17-21). Failure to do so makes us a "thief" in God’s eyes.

The Hebrew word qaba, on the other hand, is used to emphasize the violent seizing of property. It would fit the term "robbery." This is the word used in the question: "Will a man rob God?" (Malachi 3:8). We can infer that disobedience to tithing is a more dangerous infraction of the eighth commandment than mere "burglary."

May God keep us from either violation as we seek to please Him. HMM III

Series: 
The Ten Commandments
Book: 
Exodus
Verses: 
20:15
Article Type: 
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