Sunday, December 04, 2005


The basic principle in the Old Testament Law is that a person who is convicted of a crime must make restitution to the victim of their crime. For example, the penalty for theft is four or fivefold restitution to the victim.

If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep (Ex 22:1).
The thief must pay his victim four times the value of what he has sold. The compensation beyond the value of what was stolen makes up for the cost of tracking down the thief. It also acts as a deterrent against theft. A thief will not get caught every time, so if he only had to pay back what was stolen, he might decide to risk the crime, knowing that when if he gets caught, he can just give back the stolen goods. The fourfold repayment severely reduces the economic benefits of theft.

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