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The Restitution for Adultery Is Very Heavy
Proverbs 6:30-31 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
30 Men do not despise a thief if he steals
to satisfy his soul when he is hungry.
31 But if he is found, he must pay sevenfold;
he will give all the valuables of his house.
These verses begin the final section of chapter six (vss. 30-35), which deals with the consequences of committing adultery. At first, they may very much seem out of place, an interruption of sorts to the flow of what had been being said. Verses 30-31 compare the adulterous, unfaithful man to a thief, while 34-34, he is seen as the foolish person who has humiliated and shamed himself, while in the final verses of 34-35, he suffers the consequences of his actions in that the husband is now seeking revenge. No price will quiet his rage and vengeful heart, which now target the adulterous man.
Men do not despise a thief if he steals: The Hebrew literally says, they do not … Men is used in place of the third person plural pronoun, they, in the ASV, RSV, 1995 NASB, and the UASV. Despise, loathe, scorn, derision (Heb. bûz) means to look down on another person with contempt, which will like result in a verbal remark. Indeed, the adulterous man is despised and loathed. Thief … steals refer to a criminal who takes something (another man’s wife) by stealth (sneaking behind the back of the husband) that does not belong to him.
To satisfy his soul when he is hungry: Appetite is used in the ESV as a translation of the Hebrew word “soul” (נֶפֶשׁ nephesh), which conveys the idea of craving, desiring, or wanting.
But if he is found, he must pay sevenfold: The Hebrew (מוֹצָא motsa or מֹצָא motsa) can be rendered found (ASV, NASB, LEB, UASV) or caught (ESV, CSB). Either rendering is perfectly fine. The Hebrew verb found or caught is in the passive, which means that he was caught, found out, or discovered, captured in the act, and thus taken into custody. Here pay (שָׁלֵם shalem) is not referring to one who pays a fine for committing a criminal act but rather is referring to this one making restitution, paying something to someone (restoring something) for the loss that he has suffered because of his actions. In the case of the husband seeking retribution for the adulterous man who took his wife from him, he is seeking punishment to be inflicted on the adulterous man as vengeance for the wrong he has committed. Sevenfold means the thief in this corresponding analogy is going to have to restore what was lost seven times as much as he stole from the owner. This conveys very serious retribution for a man who has stolen another man’s wife.
He will give all the valuables of his house: The Hebrew verb here rendered give means that the thief (adulterous man) will transfer the possession of all he has to the victim of the theft (the husband), handing it all over to the harmed or injured person. How much more serious will society see the restitution, repayment, really retribution (punishment inflicted on someone as vengeance) for a man who has stolen the wife of another man?
Unlike today, ancient Israel had no jails, so restitution was a major part of the Mosaic Law. A thief, who stole because of greed, was despised, but if it were because of desperation, as he needed to feed himself or especially his family, it was at least understood, and he would receive mercy. To steal in ancient Israel was a costly choice because if the value were one hundred dollars, he would have to repay two, four, or five hundred dollars if caught. The sevenfold mentioned here likely means the full or complete amount, which could be many times the amount stolen, even it was all he had. If he could not repay the restitution, he would have been sold into servitude for his thieving until the amount owed was repaid by labor.
A person caught in an adulterous relationship loses their reputation and necessitates unending disgrace and shame upon that. Yes, sin is sin, but even the Bible differentiates, calling some actions gross (serious, blatant) sin. Adultery is a much more severe sin than stealing in ancient Israel. However, that is not the case today. Thieves today may go to jail (an extreme need might have been the reason, like starving), while the vile adulterer goes unpunished in many cases, even publicly boasting of his exploits with no fear of reprisal. Well, the loathsome adulterer will not go unpunished by God.
 Lit They do not … Men is used in place of the third person plural pronoun, they.
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