This is the eighth in a 10-part series that focuses on the covenant law of Yah which was inscribed on tablets of stone at Mount Sinai. What do these laws really mean and how are we to keep them?
Other Videos in this Series:
The eight commandment is in place to protect the rights of property, so that we respect what our neighbor owns, and in truth, it teaches us to be satisfied with our lot in life; with what we have been apportioned. Theft is usually borne out of necessity, such as having too little in the way of food, etc., or greed and envy. When people are not satisfied with what they have been given in life and do not have the means to acquire more, this often drives them to take what is not theirs. But . . .
15 You shall not steal.
There are many forms of theft, and some are more obvious than others. Theft isn’t restricted to someone sneaking through someone else’s window at night to make off with goods. It can be viewed as an employer who holds back the wages of a worker.
14 Never take advantage of poor and destitute laborers, whether they are fellow Israelites or foreigners living in your towns.
15 You must pay them their wages each day before sunset because they are poor and are counting on it. If you don’t, they might cry out to Yah against you, and it would be counted against you as sin.
Or it can even be viewed as a merchant who alternates prices often so he or she can get as much as they can for the same product from unsuspecting customers who are willing to pay those higher prices without question. This is equivalent to what Scripture terms as using “dishonest weights and measures.”
13 You must use accurate scales when you weigh out merchandise, 14 and you must use full and honest measures.
15 Yes, always use honest weights and measures, so that you may enjoy a long life in the land Yah your Elohim is giving you.
16 All who cheat with dishonest weights and measures are detestable to Yah your Elohim.
A second witness to this can be found in the book of Proverbs, where we are told that:
1 Yah detests the use of dishonest scales, but he delights in accurate weights.
This informs us that the entire world economy, which is made up of various markets that deal in the trade of commodities, stocks, currencies, produce, and many other items, is corrupt through and through. The truth is, all of these products see their prices fluctuate on a daily basis. Corrupt men and women control the unseen scales that cause the prices of these items to go up and down each day. And Yah, as stated, detests the use of these dishonest scales.
And the men and women behind the scenes lie to the public on a continual basis to keep the charade going. The wealthy and powerful in every nation also steal and cheat to acquire their wealth and power.
10 What shall I say about the homes of the wicked filled with treasures gained by cheating? What about the disgusting practice of measuring out grain with dishonest measures?
11 How can I tolerate your merchants who use dishonest scales and weights?
12 The rich among you have become wealthy through extortion and violence. Your citizens are so used to lying that their tongues can no longer tell the truth.
The eight commandment, like many of the others, ties into several other commandments. Breaking the eight commandment, in other words, can automatically cause you to break other commandments by committing additional sins to cover the first one. Yeshua illustrated this when he said:
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
Yeshua was surrounded by such thieves at the very end of his life. Two thieves were hung on stakes at his right and left:
38 Then were there two thieves impaled with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.
The Greek word used to describe the two men who flanked Yeshua is lēstḗs, word 3027 in the Greek section of the Strong’s Concordance. It means: a thief (“robber”), stealing out in the open (typically with violence). Also called a “bandit,” a thief who also plunders and pillages – an unscrupulous marauder (malefactor), exploiting the vulnerable without hesitating to use violence.
This is in contrast to Greek word 2812, kleptés, which refers to a thief who steals in secret, with stealth, rather than out in the open. This is the root word for kleptomania or kleptomaniac, which carries the same meaning. This is also the word Yeshua used to describe his second coming, which will be like that of a stealthy thief. Yeshua used both lēstḗs and kleptés to metaphorically describe the false teachers who came before him:
8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them.
This speaks of those who seem to have good intentions for Yeshua’s flock, but are really fleecing that flock for their own selfish gain. Thieves often conceal their true motives, and one of Yeshua’s disciples, Judas Iscariot, was one such thief, who pretended to be something he wasn’t.
1 Six days before the Passover celebration began, Yeshua arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead.
2 A dinner was prepared in Yeshua’s honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him.
3 Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Yeshua’s feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.
4 But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said,
5 That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.
6 Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.
The nature of a thief is the exact opposite of what Yah desires to see in us. A thief represents everything that is contrary to a servant of Yah, particularly in terms of the heart. A thief is selfish, whereas a righteous servant lends and gives freely. A thief is thankless and covetous, envying the things his neighbor has and never feeling they have enough, while the righteous servant is satisfied with their lot and thankful to Yah for their portion. The list goes on and on.
Kidnapping is also theft, and is covered in the Torah:
16 Kidnappers must be put to death, whether they are caught in possession of their victims or have already sold them as slaves.
In other words, people are possessions as well, and that is true of the children in our care and the spouses we are married to, among others; they are also considered part of our lot in life. In fact, according to the law of tithing, Yah considered people as possessions along with animals and produce.
2 Dedicate to me every firstborn among the Israelites. The first offspring to be born, of both humans and animals, belongs to me.
But instead of keeping all the firstborn to himself, he made a provision for this:
45 Take the Levites as substitutes for the firstborn sons of the people of Israel. And take the livestock of the Levites as substitutes for the firstborn livestock of the people of Israel. The Levites belong to me; I am Yah.
This is why the Levites had no land or inheritance along with the other 11 tribes, because Yah was their inheritance according to Deuteronomy 18 verse 2, and they were to devote their lives to Yah and be in his service. They were Israel’s collective tithe in other words. Now, as to tithing, the law provided specific details concerning this.
30 One tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees, belongs to Yah and must be set apart to him as pure.
31 If you want to buy back Yah’s tenth of the grain or fruit, you must pay its value, plus 20 percent.
32 Count off every tenth animal from your herds and flocks and set them apart for Yah as pure.
33 You may not pick and choose between good and bad animals, and you may not substitute one for another. But if you do exchange one animal for another, then both the original animal and its substitute will be considered pure and cannot be bought back.
I don’t think I have to explain that tithing has nothing to do with money. Neither does it now nor has it ever. Tithing always involved that which could be grown or birthed, that is, people, livestock, and crops of the field. And this included secondary products that could be produced from these things, such as grain, wine, and oil, etc. That is exactly what we saw the Israelites of old return to Yah in abundance, a portion of which he in turn gave to the Levites.
4 Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion due to the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of Yah.
5 And as soon as the commandment was spread abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of grain, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly.
6 And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of pure things which were consecrated unto Yah their Elohim, and laid them in heaps.
—2 Chronicles 31
This illustrates that the best of everything that was produced was to go back to Yah for his service. A proverb of Solomon even speaks to this:
9 Honor Yah with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest.
But this is the opposite of what the later rebellious generations did when returning their tithes, as recorded in the book of Malachi.
7 Even from the days of your fathers you have gone away from my ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, says Yah of hosts. But you say, How shall we return?
8 Will a man rob Elohim? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, How have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse: for you have robbed me, even this whole nation.
10 Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and test me now in this, says Yah of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast its fruit before the time in the field, said Yah of hosts.
12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for you shall be a delightful land, says Yah of hosts.
One of the main reasons why Yah viewed the return of their tithe as robbery is demonstrated in the following passage:
6 Yah of Heaven’s Armies says to the priests: A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have shown contempt for my name! But you ask, How have we ever shown contempt for your name?
7 You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar. Then you ask, How have we defiled the sacrifices? You defile them by saying the altar of Yah deserves no respect.
8 When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is! says Yah of Heaven’s Armies.
9 Go ahead, beg Elohim to be merciful to you! But when you bring that kind of offering, why should he show you any favor at all? asks Yah of Heaven’s Armies.
10 How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not pleased with you, says Yah of Heaven’s Armies, and I will not accept your offerings.
11 But my name is honored by people of other nations from morning till night. All around the world they offer sweet incense and pure offerings in honor of my name. For my name is great among the nations, says Yah of Heaven’s Armies.
12 But you dishonor my name with your actions. By bringing contemptible food, you are saying it’s all right to defile Yah’s table.
13 You say, It’s too hard to serve Yah, and you turn up your noses at my commands, says Yah of Heaven’s Armies. Think of it! Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these? asks Yah.
14 Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to Yah. For I am a great king, says Yah of Heaven’s Armies, and my name is feared among the nations!
This is a prime example of what we are doing today. We not only steal petty items from one another; we not only withhold wages, or as employees slack off when we are actually being paid to work, which is also theft; we not only take what is not ours amongst one another on earth, but we also rob Yah to this day. How? By not honoring him with our possessions or rendering to his service the best of what we can produce, as we are told to in the book of Proverbs:
9 Honor Yah with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest.
Since not many of us farm today, our output is measured differently, but it is not in terms of money. It is measured in time and ability, skill, and talent. If you excel in an art form (singing, writing, painting, knitting, what have you) or you can build things, or cook, or even volunteer, we should be giving back to Yah by freely providing these gifts and services to others to some degree without hoping to gain or profit. And finally, our prayer should be:
7 O Elohim, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die. 8 First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. 9 For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, Who is Yah? And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult Elohim’s pure name.
Keywords: you shall not steal, klepto, tithe, firstfruits, first fruits, theft, thief in the night, 10 commandments, ten commandments