Exodus 22:15
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) If it be a hired thing.—Letting out for hire is akin to lending; but still quite a different transaction. Damage to a thing hired was not to be made good by the hirer, since the risk of it might be considered to have formed part of the calculation upon which the amount of the hire was fixed.

22; 1 - 31 Judicial laws. - The people of God should ever be ready to show mildness and mercy, according to the spirit of these laws. We must answer to God, not only for what we do maliciously, but for what we do heedlessly. Therefore, when we have done harm to our neighbour, we should make restitution, though not compelled by law. Let these scriptures lead our souls to remember, that if the grace of God has indeed appeared to us, then it has taught us, and enabled us so to conduct ourselves by its holy power, that denying ungodliness and wordly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, Titus 2:12. And the grace of God teaches us, that as the Lord is our portion, there is enough in him to satisfy all the desires of our souls.It came for his hire - The sum paid for hiring was regarded as covering the risk of accident. 6. If fire break out, and catch in thorns—This refers to the common practice in the East of setting fire to the dry grass before the fall of the autumnal rains, which prevents the ravages of vermin, and is considered a good preparation of the ground for the next crop. The very parched state of the herbage and the long droughts of summer, make the kindling of a fire an operation often dangerous, and always requiring caution from its liability to spread rapidly.

stacks—or as it is rendered "shocks" (Jud 15:5; Job 5:26), means simply a bundle of loose sheaves.

If the owner thereof be with it: the law reasonably presumes, both that the borrower would not abuse it in the sight of its owner, and that the lender might and would take due care about it.

He shall not make it good, except there be some manifest fault in the borrower, as if he should kill or wound the beast in the lender’s presence; which exception is easily to be understood from divers other laws of God.

It came for his hire, i.e. the benefit was the lender’s, and not the borrower’s, and therefore the former reason ceaseth; and whether the master were present or absent, he that receives the gain or hire shall bear the loss, except when it came through the borrower’s gross and wilful default. 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 (c); 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 (d), 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, &c.''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.

(c) Misn. Bava Metzia, c. 8. sect. 1. Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. (d) Ibid.

But if the owner thereof be with it, he shall not make it good: if it be an hired thing, it {g} came for his hire.

(g) He that hired it shall be free by paying the hire.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. it came for its hire] and therefore, it is presumed, the owner was prepared to take the risk, so that compensation for injury is unnecessary. The sense expressed by the marg. is hardly likely: for if the cost of compensation in the possible case of injury or death were included in the hire, it would make this unreasonably high. Others understand sâkîr in its usual sense of a ‘hired servant,’ and make an entirely new case of v. 15b, rendering: If it be a hired servant (who, viz., has injured his own master’s animal), it (the damage) cometh into his hire, and is gradually worked off by him (so Kautzsch and Socin, Bä., Ryssel). The connexion with vv. 14, 15a is however in this case in exact; for the ‘it’ is not, as in v. 15a, one who has borrowed the animal from its owner, but one who has been entrusted with it by his master.Verse 15. If the owner thereof be with it. - By "with it," we must understand, not merely present, but in charge of it, or at any rate so near it that he might have prevented the damage, had prevention been possible. If it be an hired thing. - If anything were paid for the use of the thing, then it was not borrowed, but hired; and the owner was considered to have counted in the risk of loss or damage in fixing the amount of the hire. He was entitled therefore to no compensation Our own law does not rule this absolutely, but takes into consideration the proportion of the sum paid for hire to the value of the thing hired, and the general tacit understanding.

CHAPTER 22:16-31 In cases of dishonesty, or the loss of property entrusted, the following was to be the recognised right: If money or articles (כּלים, not merely tools and furniture, but clothes and ornaments, cf. Deuteronomy 22:5; Isaiah 61:10) given to a neighbour to keep should be stolen out of his house, the thief was to restore double if he could be found; but if he could not be discovered, the master of the house was to go before the judicial court (האלהים אל, see Exodus 21:6; אל נקרב to draw near to), to see "whether he has not stretched out his hand to his neighbour's goods." מלאכה: lit., employment, then something earned by employment, a possession. Before the judicial court he was to cleanse himself of the suspicion of having fraudulently appropriated what had been entrusted to him; and in most cases this could probably be only done by an oath of purification. The Sept. and Vulg. both point to this by interpolating καὶ ὀμεῖται, et jurabit ("and he shall swear"), though we are not warranted in supplying ויּשּׁבע in consequence. For, apart from the fact that אם־לא is not to be regarded as a particle of adjuration here, as Rosenmller supposes, since this particle signifies "truly" when employed in an oath, and therefore would make the declaration affirmative, whereas the oath was unquestionably to be taken as a release from the suspicion of fraudulent appropriation, and in case of confession an oath was not requisite at all; - apart from all this, if the lawgiver had intended to prescribe an oath for such a case, he would have introduced it here, just as he has done in Exodus 22:11. If the man could free himself before the court from the suspicion of unfaithfulness, he would of course not have to make compensation for what was lost, but the owner would have to bear the damage. This legal process is still further extended in Exodus 22:9 : על־כּל־דּבר־פּשׁע, "upon every matter of trespass" (by which we are to understand, according to the context, unfaithfulness with regard to, or unjust appropriation of, the property of another man, not only when it had been entrusted, but also if it had been found), "for ox, for ass, etc., or for any manner of lost thing, of which one says that it is this ("this," viz., the matter of trespass), the cause of both (the parties contending about the right of possession) shall come to the judicial court; and he whom the court (Elohim) shall pronounce guilty (of unjust appropriation) shall give double compensation to his neighbour: only double as in Exodus 22:4 and Exodus 22:7, not four or fivefold as in Exodus 22:1, because the object in dispute had not been consumed.
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