The Right to Return: The Biblical Law of Theft

Eliakim Katz and Jacob Rosenberg

in The Oxford Handbook of Judaism and Economics

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780195398625
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Right to Return: The Biblical Law of Theft


This article focuses on the law surrounding the biblical law of theft. According to Jewish Law, a thief who is caught and found guilty must return the stolen article and, in addition, pay the owner a fine equal to the value of the article. The thief can avoid this fine by admitting to the theft on his own initiative in a court and returning the stolen article to its owner. This article refers to such canceling of a fine as a pardon. The pardon is explained in the Talmud by the legal dictum “Mode BeKnass Patur,” that is “he who confesses in a fine is exempt”. This article carefully explains economic model with the help of various graphs. This article also explains two issues which require consideration in assessing whether Eliezer acted properly as an agent according to Jewish law. A detailed analysis of concepts of duty in Judaism concludes this article.

Keywords: Biblical law; theft; Jewish law; pardon

Article.  5623 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Industry Studies

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