The Eighth Commandment – Thou Shalt Not Steal
This is my sixteenth post on the Ten Commandments using Buddy Dano’s study: FOR THE LAND OF THE FREE: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF FREEDOM and the only one dealing with the eighth commandment.
The eighth commandment is the one that commands us not to steal. As is often the case I did an internet search on this commandment before posting to see what information is available regarding it on the web. I have to say that I am a bit disappointed in what I found. “Thou shalt not steal” is commonly used almost as a cliché but I didn’t find much substantial teaching on the subject of property and property rights in the Old Testament.
So, in addition to Pastor Dano’s discussion of the eighth commandment below, I have decided to reproduce here the commands regarding property from the Mosaic Law itself. The website Judaism 101 contains a lot of information about Judaism and I find it to be a very useful reference. The site lists all 613 Mitzvot (commandments) of the Mosaic Law. I am going to reproduce the ones regarding property here as a supplement to what Pastor Dano has written.
Property and Property Rights
267. Not to sell a field in the land of Israel in perpetuity (Lev. 25:23) (negative).
268. Not to change the character of the open land (about the cities of) the Levites or of their fields; not to sell it in perpetuity, but it may be redeemed at any time (Lev. 25:34) (negative). See Levi.
269. That houses sold within a walled city may be redeemed within a year (Lev. 25:29) (affirmative).
270. Not to remove landmarks (property boundaries) (Deut. 19:14) (CCN85).
271. Not to swear falsely in denial of another’s property rights (Lev. 19:11) (CCN30).
272. Not to deny falsely another’s property rights (Lev. 19:11) (CCN36).
273. Never to settle in the land of Egypt (Deut. 17:16) (CCN192).
274. Not to steal personal property (Lev. 19:11) (CCN34).
275. To restore that which one took by robbery (Lev. 5:23) (CCA68).
276. To return lost property (Deut. 22:1) (CCA69).
277. Not to pretend not to have seen lost property, to avoid the obligation to return it (Deut. 22:3) (CCN182).
The one thing that came to mind while reading all 613 mitzvot was that the Jewish government didn’t have eminent domain or, in other words, the government couldn’t take private property for its own use.
Here is Pastor Dano:
THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT
‘‘Thou shalt not steal.’’
THE RIGHT OF PRIVATE PROPERTY.
This next commandment is for the protection of private property. It establishes the Divinely-given right of the individual to own personal property and possessions, and it limits the role of government to the protection of this property.
The concept of privacy and private property is basic to the survival of individual liberty. And this commandment is another of God’s provisions for the protection of the human race during the course of the unseen conflict. Stealing then is a violation of your privacy and your right to own property. This commandment says that if you do not have a right to a certain piece of property, keep your hands off. It doesn’t belong to you. If you steal something, you are encroaching on someone else’s freedom. When this occurs on a national scale, which it is at this time, there is anarchy and consequently a destruction of all freedom. The Bible says, ‘‘Let him that steals, steal no more.’’
A nation that goes beyond God’s principles for the protection of human freedom is opening the door to satanic doctrine. And when these false doctrines are accepted, freedom is destroyed. Both socialism and Communism are characterized by the destruction of privacy and property. The concept of the government ownership of property is contrary to the Word of God, as is the concept of revolution. A REVOLUTION SEEKS THE DESTRUCTION OF THE DIVINE INSTITUTIONS, WHEREAS THE AMERICAN WAR FOR INDEPENDENCE WAS FOUGHT TO RESTORE THE DIVINE INSTITUTIONS.
Now the Hebrew word for ‘‘steal’’ refers not only to stealing something that you can carry off, but to steal something you cannot carry off. Under an agricultural economy that means property. And today it would include, for example, industry. The government does not have the right to own your property, nor does the government have the right to interfere with industry, much less own industry, which it does.
The sanctity of private property is one of the most basic concepts of freedom. Therefore, any time the government goes into industry or into business, a nation is already in industrial slavery. We are in industrial slavery today in this nation because the government has violated this commandment through taxation of industry, through putting pressure upon industry and through legislation against industry. The result of such practices is economic disaster, which we are in right now. Governmental intervention into industry.
GOD HAS SET UP DIVINE LAWS TO REGULATE THE ECONOMY OF NATIONS, AND THESE LAWS ARE DEFINED UNDER THE CONCEPT OF FREE ENTERPRISE. When a government rejects God’s principles for the regulation of economy, the result is national self-destruction. When a government attempts to superimpose its own laws over God’s Divine laws, that government is on its way out. The role of the government is to protect the operation of the four Divine Institutions. Free will, marriage, family, and a national entity. But when this concept is rejected and the government assumes the rule of regulating and controlling the operation of the Divine Institutions, personal freedom and national sovereignty are destroyed. From this you can see the condition we find ourselves in today in our country.