Online Sunday School. The Ten Commandments, For a Blessed Life – Kerygma Materials Commandment 8, Stealing

  1. The Commandment. “You shall not steal.” Exodus 20, 15; Deuteronomy 5, 19.
  2. Like several other commandments, it is expressed in the most simple of language that we must interpret in a number of complex situations.
  3. The Hebrew “ganab” can mean steal, deceive, kidnap.
  4. As often with the Ten Commandments, the meaning of the word in the commandment is often interpreted in other passages.
    1. Exodus 22, 1. “When someone steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, the thief shall pay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. The thief shall make restitution, but if unable to do so, shall be sold for the theft. 4 When the animal, whether ox or donkey or sheep, is found alive in the thief’s possession, the thief shall pay double. 2 If a thief is found breaking in, and is beaten to death, no bloodguilt is incurred; 3 but if it happens after sunrise, bloodguilt is incurred. 5 When someone causes a field or vineyard to be grazed over, or lets livestock loose to graze in someone else’s field, restitution shall be made from the best in the owner’s field or vineyard. 6 When fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, the one who started the fire shall make full restitution. 7 When someone delivers to a neighbor money or goods for safekeeping, and they are stolen from the neighbor’s house, then the thief, if caught, shall pay double. 8 If the thief is not caught, the owner of the house shall be brought before God, to determine whether or not the owner had laid hands on the neighbor’s goods.”
    2. Leviticus 19, 13. “You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. 
    3. Leviticus 19, 35. “35 You shall not cheat in measuring length, weight, or quantity. 36 You shall have honest balances, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: 
    4. Deuteronomy 19, 14. “ 14 You must not move your neighbor’s boundary marker, set up by former generations, on the property that will be allotted to you in the land that the Lordyour God is giving you to possess.
    5. Exodus 21, 16. “Whoever kidnaps a person, whether that person has been sold or is still held in possession, shall be put to death”.
    6. Deuteronomy 24, 6. “ No one shall take a mill or an upper millstone in pledge, for that would be taking a life in pledge. 7 If someone is caught kidnaping another Israelite, enslaving or selling the Israelite, then that kidnaper shall die. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. . . . 10 When you make your neighbor a loan of any kind, you shall not go into the house to take the pledge. 11 You shall wait outside, while the person to whom you are making the loan brings the pledge out to you. 12 If the person is poor, you shall not sleep in the garment given you as the pledge. 13 You shall give the pledge back by sunset, so that your neighbor may sleep in the cloak and bless you; and it will be to your credit before the Lord your God. 14 You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy laborers, whether other Israelites or aliens who reside in your land in one of your towns. 15 You shall pay them their wages daily before sunset, because they are poor and their livelihood depends on them; otherwise they might cry to the Lord against you, and you would incur guilt.”
  5. Consider these situations in our complex capitalistic economy.
    1. Someone grabs the hat in which a street musician is collecting money and runs away.
    2. Someone breaks into a house while the people are in church and takes their computer.
    3. Someone sells a product over the internet, takes the buyer’s money but does not send the purchased item.
    4. Someone becomes a cosigner on an elderly relative’s bank account and takes some of the money.
    5. A car dealer sells a car knowing that it will soon break down. Does it matter if the dealer has closely examined the car or bought it from another dealer without looking at it, but expects it will break down soon from past experience with similar cars.
    6. A telemarketer calls an elderly person and says that they have inherited some money but need to send some money to get it released.
    7. A beggar on the street says that their car is out of gas and they need a few dollars to get home.
    8. A business owner gives a few thousand dollars to a Congressman. Later on the business owner asks the Congressman to support a bill that removes consumer protections from the owner’s business. The Congressman does so.
    9. A bully takes a child’s lunch money. He will beat the child up otherwise.
    10. The government takes money from citizens in taxes to pay for health care. Some get more in health care than they pay in taxes. Others get less.
    11. A bank puts in fine print that it will begin charging fees for money in its bank accounts. People who do not see this or remove their money have the money taken by the bank.
    12. Four professors working at four universities think of an idea that will change manufacturing and make products more available to the public. The universities all have contracts with the professor that they own all the ideas any professor comes up with while working for them. The professors talk to each other at conferences and read each other’s work. Some of the ideas are added to by students who hope the professors will approve their getting degrees in exchange for their work. Who is protected by the eighth commandment?
    13. A drug company makes television commercials showing elderly people smiling and laughing with family and friends in vacation sites. Fine print says that medicine advertised can cause a long list of harmful side effects.
    14. Someone copies a song off the internet. Does it matter if they sell the song, play it in a church service, or just listen to it while jogging?
    15. A bank makes an adjustable rate loan to a senior citizen on a fixed income. The loan is affordable now but won’t be in two years. An appraiser overvalues the home in order to keep getting business. The bank sells the loan to an investment bank, which creates a security that promises to pay dividends out of the mortgage payments. A ratings agency says this investment is rated AAA, the highest rating. A second investment bank then issues another security that will pay dividends if the value of the first security goes down. The first investment bank buys a large number of the second securities, expecting the value of their first securities will go down and they will make money. Because there are so many bad mortgages, the economy crashes and many people are laid off. Many others lose their homes. Has anyone violated the eighth commandment?
  6. What is the basis of applying the 8th commandment to any or all of the above situations and how should it be applied?

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