Monday, December 05, 2005

Restitution for Capital Goods

An ox gets fivefold restitution because it can be used to pull a heavy load. It is a capital good that can be used to produce a stream of income into the future, so is more valuable to its owner than a sheep. Stealing an ox makes the owner less productive for the lifetime of the oxen. Using a modern example, the theft of a carpenters tools (his capital goods) costs him more than the theft of something he has made. This is why additional restitution is required. Biblical law requires fivefold restitution for the any capital goods that are stolen.

This restitution principle is very different from the modern system of fines and imprisonment. All fines get paid to the state, so the victim gets nothing. If the criminal is sent to prison, innocent citizens pay the cost and the victim still misses out, which is very unfair. In the biblical system, the victims gets compensated for their loss.

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