The Right to Return: The Biblical Law of Theft

Eliakim Katz, Jacob Rosenberg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Judaism and Economics
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199940462
ISBN (Print)9780195398625
StatePublished - 7 Dec 2010

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2010 by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


  • Biblical law
  • Jewish law
  • Pardon
  • Theft


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