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22

Verse 22

22.But every woman shall borrow. (47) Those who consider these means of enriching the people to be but little in accordance with the justice of God, themselves reflect but little how widely that justice of which they speak extends. I acknowledge that it is His attribute to defend every one’s rights, to prohibit theft, to condemn deceit and rapine; but let us see what every one’s property is. Who will boast that he has anything, except what is given him by God? And all is given on this condition, that each one should possess according to His will whatever God pleases, who is free to take away at any moment whatsoever He has given. The Hebrews spoiled the Egyptians; and should the latter complain that an injury is done them, they would argue against God that He had transferred His own free gifts from them to others. Would this complaint be listened to, that God, in whose hands are the ends of the earth, who by His power appoints the bounds of nations, and reduces their kings to poverty, had deprived certain persons of their furniture and jewels? Another defense is set up by some, that the Hebrews took nothing which was not their own, but only the wages which were due to them; because they were iniquitously driven to servile labors, and had subsisted meanly upon what belonged to themselves. And certainly it would have been just that their labor should have been recompensed in some way. But there is no need of weighing the judgment of God by ordinary rules, since we have already seen that all the possessions of the world are His, to distribute them according to His pleasure. Nevertheless I do not thus suppose Him to be without law; for although His power is above all laws, still, because His will is the most certain rule of perfect equity, whatever He does must be perfectly right; and therefore He is free from laws, because He is a law to Himself, and to all. Neither would I simply say with Augustin, (48) that this was a command of God which should not be canvassed but obeyed, because He knows that He commands justly, and that his servants must obediently perform whatever He commands. This indeed is truly said, and yet we must hold fast that higher principle, that, since whatever people call their own they possess only by God’s bounty, there is no juster title to possession than His gift. We will not therefore say that the Hebrew women purloined that which God ordered them to take, and which He chose to bestow upon them; neither will God be accounted unjust in bestowing nothing but what was His own. (49) The word which I have translated “hospitem, ” or “hostess,” some understand as a “fellow- sojourner;” and this is not very important, because we gather from the other word, that the Egyptians were mixed among the Hebrews. In the end of the verse, because the original expresses, “ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters,” almost all interpreters expound it to mean that they should ornament them; but it seems to me that it only refers to the abundance of the spoil; as much as to say, you shall not only obtain as much as you can carry yourselves, but shall also load your sons and daughters.

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