Friday, June 27, 2008

Judicial Laws of Moses (10) - Restitution

Restitution is specified as the remedy in all situations where personal property is damaged or stolen. The Hebrew word translated as restitution is “shalam”. It is used 18 times in these verses about property, although this is sometime lost in the translation. Twice the word is doubled for emphasis. Its basic meaning is “be safe” or “be made complete”. By implication it can mean “reciprocate, make amends, end, finish, full, make good, repay, recompense, requite, make restitution, restore”.

The person stealing or damaging the property of another must “make good” the harm done. They must “restore” the situation to the way it was before they committed their crime. The well-known Hebrew word for peace (shalom) comes from Shalam, so it has a strong sense of restoring peace to a situation that has been disrupted. Everything harmed must be put right.

The seduction of a young woman is also a form of theft.

If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her (Ex 2:16).
He has stolen the most precious thing that she has. Loss of virginity might prevent her from finding a good husband. The man who has robbed her of this potential must compensate here financially for what she has lost. He must also compensate here for any physical or emotional harm as well. He must pay the full cost of restoring her to the position that she was in before he intervened in here life.

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