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What does 'steal' mean?
83,1. The fact that under the concept of "stealing" it was impossible at first to understand the unauthorized removal of the material possessions of another is clear from the fact that, especially at the time of legislation, no one from the Israelite people owned any property. Even when the people had moved into the Promised Land, their state constitution was ordered as such that no one could have full ownership in this land. But apart from that, property was communal as much as possible, and every poor Israelite, if he lived in the Divine order, could find everywhere the most hospitable reception and lodging.
83,2. But if in this commandment meant by "stealing", the arbitrary and deliberate removal of the goods of another, then, as has been shown sufficiently clear in the course of this illustration, the blame would inevitably fall upon the legislator, thereby quietly procuring the industry and would also defend usury. For that must be obvious for everyone at first glance, if he is only capable of somewhat brighter thinking, that the right to property is then introduced as perfectly sanctioned and confirmed, as soon as one gives a law by which the property of each would be completely secured.
83,3. On the other hand, how could one expect such a law from that legislator who spoke to His disciples with His own mouth: "Do not worry about what you will eat and drink and what you will clothe your body with, because that is what the heathen are after. But above all, seek the kingdom of God; everything else will be given unto you.
83,4. The same legislator continues: "The birds have their nests, and the foxes their holes, but the Son of Man does not have a stone that He puts under his head!" On the other hand, we see His disciples even on a sabbath rubbing corn ears, and thereby obviously steal. But when the landlords complained about it, who got a reprimand and a very sensitive rebuke from the Great Lawmaker? You only have to look in the Book and everything will be clear to you.
83,5. We again see the same Legislator once in a position to pay a toll. Did He reach into His own pocket? Oh, no, He knew that in the nearby lake a fish had swallowed a lost stater. Peter had to go and take the coin out of the throat of the fish held by the power of the Lord and pay the toll with it.
83,6. But I ask: Does the finder have the right of ownership in any good find in whatever way? Did not the Great Lawgiver have to know - or did He not want to know - that what He had only the right to freely own only one-third of what He have found in fish, and that only after He made His find publicly or officially known? He did not do such. Accordingly, He apparently committed a double theft or, as much as it did, an embezzlement.
83,7. Further, one might ask after the principles of law - assuming that few Jews fully knew who Christ actually was - who had granted Himself the right to have the known donkey taken from their owner, and then use it Himself at His own discretion.
83,8. One can say here: He is the Master of all nature and everything anyway belongs to Him. That is correct, but how then does He speak in worldly terms, saying that the Son of man has no stone, and on the other hand He says that He did not come to abrogate the law, but to fulfill it to the dot.
83,9. If we wanted to follow His story, we would still find many things where the Great Legislator, according to the present principles of property law and the comprehensive juridical explanation of the seventh commandment, has obviously transgressed these legal principles. What would happen to anyone who destroyed an owner's tree or destroyed a large herd of pigs and more? I think we have enough of the examples that make it abundantly clear that the Great Lawmaker has intended with this seventh commandment, a very different meaning than was later given to it by a greedy and selfish humanity.
83,10. One can now say: This is now very clear and obvious, but the meaning He has connected it with, is still behind a dense veil! But I say: only patience! As we have until now properly illuminated the misconception of this commandment, the true meaning of this commandment will certainly be easy to find; for someone who can see in the night, will not be afraid that he will have too little light during the day.
83,11. What does it mean then after all, in the actual truest sense: "Thou shalt not steal?" - In the true sense it means as much as:
83,12. You should never abandon the Divine order, not put yourself out of it, and seize the rights of God.
83,13. But what are these rights and what do they consist of? God alone is holy and all power is His alone! Whom God sanctifies Himself and gives him power, he rightly owns it; but he who sanctifies himself and seizes the Divine power in order to rule in the luster of selfishness and avarice, is in the true sense a thief, a robber and a murderer!
83,14. Therefore, whoever is arbitrary and self-loving in whatever external appearances and deceptive means, be it earthly or spiritual, and rises above his brothers, it is he who transgresses this commandment. This is the sense in which this is taught to these children here, and it is shown in a practical way, that no spirit should ever arbitrarily use the power and might inherent in it, but only and at all times, in the Divine order.
83,15. But one will say now: If so, then the well-known stealing and robbing is allowed. But I say: Only patience, the next episode shall bring everything into the clear. But for now let us settle this by knowing what is meant by stealing, and that the Lord has never established a right of ownership by this commandment.
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