Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
The theft of an ox appears to have been regarded as a greater crime than the theft of a sheep, because it showed a stronger purpose in wickedness to take the larger and more powerful animal. It may have been on similar moral ground that the thief, when he had proved his persistency in crime by adding to his theft the slaughter, or sale, of the animal, was to restore four times its value in the case of a sheep (compare the marginal references), and five times its value in the case of an ox; but if the animal was still in his possession alive (see Exo 22:4) he had to make only twofold restitution.
If a thief, in breaking into a dwelling in the night, was slain, the person who slew him did not incur the guilt of blood; but if the same occurred in daylight, the slayer was guilty in accordance with Exo 21:12. The distinction may have been based on the fact that in the light of day there was a fair chance of identifying and apprehending the thief.
Shall put in his beast, and shall feed - Rather, shall let his beast go loose, and it shall feed.
It would appear that if the master of the house would clear himself of imputation, the loss of the pledged article fell upon its owner.
All manner of trespass - He who was accused, and he who had lost the stolen property, were both to appear before the judges Exo 18:25-26.
This law appears to relate chiefly to herdsmen employed by the owners of cattle. When an animal was stolen Exo 22:12, it was presumed either that the herdsman might have prevented it, or that he could find the thief and bring him to justice (see Exo 22:4). When an animal was killed by a wild beast, the keeper had to produce the mangled carcass, not only in proof of the fact, but to show that he had, by his vigilance and courage, deprived the wild beast of its prey.
It came for his hire - The sum paid for hiring was regarded as covering the risk of accident.
See the marginal references.
Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live - See the marginal references. and Lev 20:27. The witch is here named to represent the class. This is the earliest denunciation of witchcraft in the law. In every form of witchcraft there is an appeal to a power not acting in subordination to the divine law. From all such notions and tendencies true worship is designed to deliver us. The practice of witchcraft was therefore an act of rebellion against Yahweh, and, as such, was a capital crime. The passages bearing on the subject in the Prophets, as well as those in the law, carry a lesson for all ages. Isa 8:19; Isa 19:3; Isa 44:25; Isa 47:12-13; Mic 5:12, etc.
This was probably an old formula, the sense of which, on its ethical side, is comprised in the first and second commandments.
Shall be utterly destroyed - The Hebrew word here used is חרם châram (i. e. devoted). See Lev 27:28.
A stranger - See Exo 20:10 note.
Afflict - A word including all cold and contemptuous treatment. See Deu 10:18. Contrast the blessing, Deu 14:29.
See the notes at Lev 25:35-43; compare Deu 23:19.
The law regarding pledges is expanded, Deu 24:6, Deu 24:10-13.
The gods - Heb. אלהים 'ělôhı̂ym. See Exo 21:6 note. Many take it as the name of God (as in Gen 1:1), and this certainly seems best to represent the Hebrew, and to suit the context.
Curse the ruler ... - See Act 23:5.
The offering of firstfruits appears to have been a custom of primitive antiquity and was connected with the earliest acts of sacrifice. See Gen 4:3-4. The references to it here and in Exo 23:19 had probably been handed down from patriarchal times. The specific law relating to the firstborn of living creatures was brought out in a strong light in connection with the deliverance from Egypt Exo 13:2, Exo 13:12-13; compare Exo 23:19; Lev 22:27; Deu 26:2-11; Neh 10:35.
The first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors - See the margin. The rendering of our King James Bible is a paraphrase.
The sanctification of the nation was emphatically symbolized by strictness of diet as regards both the kind of animal, and the mode of slaughtering. See Lev. 11; 17.