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Exodus 21:16 - Exposition

He that stealeth a man . Kidnapping, or stealing men to make them slaves, was a very early and very wide-spread crime. Joseph' s brothers must be regarded as having committed it ( Genesis 37:28 ); and there are many traces of it in the remains of antiquity. Most kidnapping was of foreigners; and this was a practice of which the laws of states took no cognizance, though a certain disrepute may have attached to it. But the kidnapping of a fellow-country-man was generally punished with severity. At Athens it was a capital offence. At Rome it made a man infamous. We may gather from Deuteronomy 24:7 , that the Mosaic law was especially levelled against this lena of the crime, though the words of the present passage are general, and forbid the crime altogether. Man-stealing, in the general sense, is now regarded as an offence by the chief civilised states of Europe and America, and is punished by confiscation of the stolen goods, and sometimes by imprisonment of the man-stealers.

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