Rashi to Exodus 21:6 quotes the Mechilta which connects the drilling of the ear of the slave to hearing "don't steal" at Sinai. The obvious question asked by the Moshav Z'keinim (there) is that Rashi and the Mechilta themselves write that this refers not to theft but to kidnapping (Rashi commentary to Exodus 20:13; Mechilta there and here)!

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    But according to Rav Saadia that includes stealing of properties.
    – user6591
    Feb 10, 2015 at 22:17
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    Does the Moshav Z'keinim give an answer?
    – Ypnypn
    Feb 10, 2015 at 22:18
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    Exegetically, chazal say this refers to kidnapping, but the p'shat reading also includes regular theft.
    – Fred
    Feb 10, 2015 at 22:18
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    @Ypnypn ואע״ג דלא תגנוב מדבר בגונב נפשות דוקא מדבר הלמד מעניינו, ואותו גנב אינו נרצע, והיה לו להביא מלא תגנובו (ויקרא י״ט י״א) שכתוב בגונב ממון. וי״ל משום דכל שם גניבה אחת היא ולא דק בלישניה, ולישנא קלילא נקט.
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 10, 2015 at 22:22
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    You can also say that "kidnapping" means making a slave of someone and the ear that heard that someone should not make a slave of another went and made a slave of himself. Since I do not have a source for this, I cannot make it an answer. I will check Rav Hirsch when I can. Feb 10, 2015 at 22:23

1 Answer 1


Apparently although the Mechilta understood the prohibition to be kidnapping it still recognizes the literal meaning of theft. This is implied by this mechilta and also somewhat implied by this mechilta.

  • I like this answer better than other proposed answers because rather than conjecture, it is based on internal evidence from the Mechilta.
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 10, 2015 at 23:22
  • You’ve answered for the Mechilta, but how do you answer Rashi?
    – DonielF
    Jan 19, 2018 at 4:34

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