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Moses' eighth speech, Part 4, Kidnapping

May 06, 2013

Deuteronomy 24:7 says,

7 If a man is caught kidnapping any of his countrymen of the sons of Israel, and he deals with him violently [Heb., amar], or sells him, then that thief shall die; so you shall purge the evil from among you.

Moses treats kidnapping as an extreme form of theft. The law says that a thief must restore at least double what he has stolen (Exodus 22:4), but how is it possible to restore double in cases of kidnapping? Because it is not possible, the law calls for the death penalty, in order to refer the case to the Great White Throne, where all such cases can be adjudicated in that setting.

The Hebrew word amar means “to bind sheaves” or “to manipulate, deal tyrannically with” or “to treat as a slave.”


This law carried over from the first law that was given forty years earlier in Exodus 21:16,

16 And he who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.

This law applies to the entire slave trade as it has existed since men learned to mistreat others. Biblical slavery was based on justice, as when the court demanded that a debtor work to pay his debt. In cases of establishing international justice through war, slaves could also be taken in such situations. In such cases, the slaves were not to be mistreated but shown by example the path of righteousness that the God of Israel has established. The ultimate purpose of such enslavement was to integrate all into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:21).

The problem is that the carnal man’s purpose for enslaving others is based on self-interest. While some have certainly purchased slaves in order to set them free, most people have had no such motive in history. Hence, the slave trade has continued unabated to the present time. People are kidnapped and sold into slavery around the world. Human trafficking today is mostly for the sex trade, and it has now replaced drugs as the most profitable business.

God’s kidnapping law also applies to tyrannical governments, who treat their citizens as slaves, rather than defending their liberty. By this law the image of Babylon will be stoned by the Stone Kingdom (Daniel 2:34), as Christ and His Kingdom arise in the end to set all nations free and to give the earth its millennium of rest from tyranny.

Of course, the victims always have the right to forgive, even in cases of kidnapping. Joseph exercised this right after his brothers kidnapped him and sold him as a slave to merchants going to Egypt. We read in Genesis 50:15-20,

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph should bear a grudge against us and pay us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!”… 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? 20 And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”

Joseph’s words reflect also the heart of God. Although a judge must demand the full penalties of the law to uphold the rights of the victims, it is always the right of victims to extend forgiveness. Jesus Christ is the ultimate Victim, for as He died on the cross as the victim of all sin, He spoke only of forgiveness (Luke 23:34).

Even at the Great White Throne, this right of forgiveness remains in force, for God will never abolish His right to forgive, nor should any man deny Him that lawful right. All of His judgments are designed to correct through discipline, and not to destroy or cast away forever. Hence, all judgment is limited to “the age,” a limited, indefinite time period, in order that He might fulfill all the desires of His heart to restore all things and set creation free into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

This is the fourth part of a series titled "Moses' Eighth Speech." To view all parts, click the link below.

Moses' Eighth Speech

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Dr. Stephen Jones

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