1

It is forbidden to purchase an object obtained by robbery from the robber. Similarly, it is forbidden to assist him in changing its nature, so that the robber will acquire it.

Whoever acts in this manner or the like assists transgressors and violates the prohibition Leviticus 19:14: "Do not place a stumbling block before the blind."

א

אָסוּר לִקְנוֹת דָּבָר הַגָּזוּל מִן הַגַּזְלָן וְאָסוּר לְסַעֲדוֹ עַל שִׁנּוּיוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּקְנֵהוּ. שֶׁכָּל הָעוֹשֶׂה דְּבָרִים אֵלּוּ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן מְחַזֵּק יְדֵי עוֹבְרֵי עֲבֵרָה וְעוֹבֵר עַל (ויקרא יט יד) "וְלִפְנֵי עִוֵּר לֹא תִתֵּן מִכְשׁל":

2

It is forbidden for anyone to benefit from an article obtained by robbery even after its rightful owner has despaired of its return, if one knows for certain that this object was obtained through robbery.

What is implied? If one knows for certain that a particular animal was obtained by robbery, it is forbidden to ride on it or plow with it.

ב

אָסוּר לֵהָנוֹת בְּדָבָר הַגָּזוּל וַאֲפִלּוּ לְאַחַר יֵאוּשׁ. וְהוּא שֶׁיֵּדַע בְּוַדַּאי שֶׁדָּבָר זֶה הוּא הַגְּזֵלָה עַצְמָהּ. כֵּיצַד. יָדַע בְּוַדַּאי שֶׁבְּהֵמָה זוֹ גְּזוּלָה אָסוּר לִרְכֹּב עָלֶיהָ אוֹ לַחְרשׁ בָּהּ:

3

When a person obtains a house or a field by robbery, it is forbidden to pass through it or enter it. This applies even merely to seek shade or shelter from the rain. If he lives in another person's home, he must pay rent to the legal owners, as mentioned above with regard to a person who lives in a colleague's courtyard without the owner's knowledge.

If a person cuts down palm trees and constructs a bridge from them, it is forbidden for anyone to pass over it. The same applies with regard to other similar situations.

ג

גָּזַל בַּיִת אוֹ שָׂדֶה אָסוּר לַעֲבֹר בְּתוֹכָהּ אוֹ לִכָּנֵס בָּהּ בַּחַמָּה מִפְּנֵי הַחַמָּה וּבַגְּשָׁמִים מִפְּנֵי הַגְּשָׁמִים. וְאִם דָּר בְּתוֹכָהּ חַיָּב לְהַעֲלוֹת שָׂכָר לַבְּעָלִים כְּדִין הַדָּר בַּחֲצַר חֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעְתּוֹ. גָּזַל דְּקָלִים וְעָשָׂה מֵהֶן גֶּשֶׁר אָסוּר לַעֲבֹר עָלָיו. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

4

If a person transgressed and ate an object obtained by robbery after the owners despaired of its return, he is not liable to compensate the owners.

If he ate the article before the owners despaired of its return the owners must be compensated. They may collect from the person who ate the article, for it is still in their possession. Or if they desire, they may collect from the robber.

ד

מִי שֶׁעָבַר וְאָכַל הַגְּזֵלָה אַחַר יֵאוּשׁ פָּטוּר מִלְּשַׁלֵּם. וְאִם אָכַל קֹדֶם יֵאוּשׁ וְרָצוּ הַבְּעָלִים לִגְבּוֹת מִן הָאוֹכֵל גּוֹבִין שֶׁעֲדַיִן בִּרְשׁוּתָן הִיא. וְאִם רָצוּ גּוֹבִין מִן הַגַּזְלָן:

5

The following rules apply when a person commits robbery and dies. There is no difference if he fed the object he obtained by robbery to his sons after the owner despaired of its return, or rather than feed it to them he sold it or it was lost.

If the robber left landed property, his heirs must reimburse the original owner. According to Talmudic law, they need not, by contrast, reimburse him if he left only movable property. For the value of the object obtained by robbery is considered to be a debt owed by the robber, and movable property is not placed on lien to a creditor after the principal's death.

ה

הַגּוֹזֵל וּמֵת בֵּין שֶׁהֶאֱכִיל אֶת הַגְּזֵלָה לַבָּנִים אַחַר יֵאוּשׁ בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא הֶאֱכִילָם אֶלָּא מְכָרָהּ אוֹ אָבְדָה. אִם הִנִּיחַ קַרְקַע חַיָּבִין לְשַׁלֵּם. אֲבָל מִן הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין אֵינָן חַיָּבִין לְשַׁלֵּם. שֶׁדְּמֵי הַגְּזֵלָה חוֹב הֵן עַל הַגַּזְלָן וְאֵין הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין מִשְׁתַּעְבְּדִין לְבַעַל חוֹב:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.

6

The Geonim have already ordained that a debt owed a creditor can be expropriated from the movable property in the estate. This applies even to a loan supported by a verbal commitment alone. Therefore, in the above instance, the heirs are liable to reimburse the owners from either the landed property or the movable property in the robber's estate, regardless of whether or not the heirs ate the article obtained by robbery, and whether or not the owners despaired of its return.

ו

כְּבָר תִּקְּנוּ הַגְּאוֹנִים לִגְבּוֹת בַּעַל חוֹב מִן הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּמִלְוֶה עַל פֶּה. לְפִיכָךְ חַיָּבִין לְשַׁלֵּם בֵּין אָכְלוּ בֵּין לֹא אָכְלוּ. בֵּין נִתְיָאֲשׁוּ בֵּין לֹא נִתְיָאֲשׁוּ. בֵּין מִן הַקַּרְקַע בֵּין מִן הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין שֶׁהִנִּיחַ:

7

The laws applying to a person who purchases movable property from a robber are the same as those applying to one who purchases from a thief. If the reputation of the robber was a matter of public knowledge, our Sages did not grant any leniency. If the robber's reputation was not public knowledge, our Sages ordained leniency to enable uninhibited trade in the marketplace, and required the original owner to pay a purchaser the price he paid for the article taken by robbery. He may then take the article and sue the robber for the price of the article.

If the owner already despaired of the article's return, the purchaser is considered to have acquired the article itself and is not required to return it.

ז

דִּין הַלּוֹקֵחַ מִטַּלְטְלִין מִן הַגַּזְלָן כְּלוֹקֵחַ מִן הַגַּנָּב. אִם גַּזְלָן מְפֻרְסָם הוּא לֹא עָשׂוּ בּוֹ תַּקָּנַת הַשּׁוּק. וְאִם אֵינוֹ מְפֻרְסָם עָשׂוּ בּוֹ תַּקָּנַת הַשּׁוּק וְנוֹתֵן הַנִּגְזָל דָּמִים שֶׁנָּתַן וְלוֹקֵחַ גְּזֵלָתוֹ וְחוֹזֵר וְתוֹבֵעַ הַגַּזְלָן בִּדְמֵי הַגְּזֵלָה. וְאִם כְּבָר נִתְיָאֲשׁוּ הַבְּעָלִים קָנָה לוֹקֵחַ עַצְמָהּ שֶׁל גְּזֵלָה וְאֵינוֹ מַחְזִירָהּ:

8

It is forbidden to benefit from a robber's property. If even a minor portion of his property was legitimately his, one is allowed to benefit from his property, unless one is certain that the article from which one is benefiting was obtained by robbery.

ח

אָסוּר לֵהָנוֹת מִן הַגַּזְלָן וְאִם הָיָה מִעוּט שֶׁלּוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁרֹב מָמוֹנוֹ גָּזוּל מֻתָּר לֵהָנוֹת מִמֶּנּוּ עַד שֶׁיֵּדַע בְּוַדַּאי שֶׁדָּבָר זֶה גָּזוּל בְּיָדוֹ:

9

It is forbidden to benefit from the property of people whom we can assume to be robbers, when all of their property can be assumed to have come from robbery, for their profession is based on robbery - e.g., customs-collectors and highwaymen.

We may not change money from their cash-box, for all their money can be assumed to have come from robbery.

ט

בְּנֵי אָדָם שֶׁחֶזְקָתָן גַּזְלָנִין וְחֶזְקַת כָּל מָמוֹנָן מִן הַגֵּזֶל מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמְּלַאכְתָּן מְלֶאכֶת גַּזְלָנִין כְּגוֹן הַמּוֹכְסִין וְהַלִּסְטִים אָסוּר לֵהָנוֹת מֵהֶן שֶׁחֶזְקַת מְלָאכָה זוֹ שֶׁהוּא גָּזוּל וְאֵין מִצְטָרְפִים (נ"א מצרפים) דִּינָרִים מִן הַתֵּבָה שֶׁלָּהֶן שֶׁהַכּל בְּחֶזְקַת גְּזֵלָה:

10

If a customs-collector takes a person's garment and then returns another one to him, or he takes a person's donkey and returns another one to him, the person may keep the one returned. This is considered to be a transaction, and we can assume that the original owner despaired of its return. Moreover, we do not know for certain that this object was obtained by robbery. If the recipient is diligent and is wont to be stringent concerning his personal gain, he should return the object to its original owner.

י

נָטְלוּ מוֹכְסִין כְּסוּתוֹ וְהֶחֱזִירוּ לוֹ אַחֶרֶת (נָטְלוּ חֲמוֹרוֹ וְהֶחֱזִירוּ לוֹ חֲמוֹר אַחֵר). הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שֶׁלּוֹ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁזּוֹ כִּמְכִירָה הִיא וְחֶזְקָתָהּ שֶׁנִּתְיָאֲשׁוּ הַבְּעָלִים מִמֶּנָּה וְאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ בְּוַדַּאי שֶׁזּוֹ גְּזֵלָה. וְאִם הָיָה וָתִיק וּמַחְמִיר עַל עַצְמוֹ מַחֲזִירָן לַבְּעָלִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים:

11

When does the statement that a customs-collector is considered to be a highwayman apply? When the customs collector is a gentile, is self-appointed, or was appointed by the king but is given unlimited jurisdiction and takes whatever he wants and leaves whatever he wants.

If, however, the customs-collector was appointed by the king to take a third, a fourth or any fixed amount of the subjects' goods or their value, the customs collector appoints a Jew to collect this sum for the king, and it is known that this person is faithful and does not add anything beyond what the king decreed, this person is not considered a robber. For the law established by the king is binding law. Indeed, anyone who does not pay this tax transgresses, for he is taking what is due the king. This applies whether the king is Jewish or gentile.

יא

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים שֶׁהַמּוֹכֵס כְּלִסְטִים בִּזְמַן שֶׁהַמּוֹכֵס עַכּוּ''ם אוֹ מוֹכֵס הָעוֹמֵד מֵאֵלָיו אוֹ מוֹכֵס הָעוֹמֵד מֵחֲמַת הַמֶּלֶךְ וְאֵין לוֹ קִצְבָה אֶלָּא לוֹקֵחַ מַה שֶּׁיִּרְצֶה וּמֵנִיחַ מַה שֶּׁיִּרְצֶה. אֲבָל מֶכֶס שֶׁפְּסָקוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ וְאָמַר שֶׁיִּקַּח שְׁלִישׁ אוֹ רְבִיעַ אוֹ דָּבָר קָצוּב וְהֶעֱמִיד מוֹכֵס יִשְׂרָאֵל לִגְבּוֹת חֵלֶק זֶה לַמֶּלֶךְ וְנוֹדַע שֶׁאָדָם זֶה נֶאֱמָן וְאֵינוֹ מוֹסִיף כְּלוּם עַל מַה שֶּׁגָּזַר הַמֶּלֶךְ אֵינוֹ בְּחֶזְקַת גַּזְלָן לְפִי שֶׁדִּין הַמֶּלֶךְ דִּין הוּא. וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא שֶׁהוּא עוֹבֵר הַמַּבְרִיחַ מִמֶּכֶס זֶה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא גּוֹזֵל מְנַת הַמֶּלֶךְ בֵּין שֶׁהָיָה הַמֶּלֶךְ עַכּוּ''ם בֵּין שֶׁהָיָה הַמֶּלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל:

12

Similarly, if a king imposes a tax on all the inhabitants of a city, a fixed annual head tax or a fixed annual property tax, or decrees that anyone who violates a particular law will have all his property confiscated by the king, or decrees that anyone who is found in a field at the harvest time must pay the tax on it whether or not he is the owner of the field, or any similar decree, it is not considered to be robbery.

A Jew who collects these duties on behalf of the king is not considered to be a robber. On the contrary, he is considered of upright character, provided he does not add to or change the king's levy in any way, nor take any for himself.

יב

וְכֵן מֶלֶךְ שֶׁמֵּשִׂים מַס עַל בְּנֵי הָעִיר אוֹ עַל כָּל אִישׁ וְאִישׁ דָּבָר קָצוּב מִשָּׁנָה לְשָׁנָה אוֹ עַל כָּל שָׂדֶה וְשָׂדֶה דָּבָר קָצוּב. אוֹ שֶׁגָּזַר שֶׁכָּל מִי שֶׁיַּעֲבֹר עַל דָּבָר זֶה יִלָּקְחוּ כָּל נְכָסָיו לְבֵית הַמֶּלֶךְ. אוֹ כָּל מִי שֶׁיִּמָּצֵא בַּשָּׂדֶה בִּשְׁעַת הַגֹּרֶן הוּא יִתֵּן הַמַּס שֶׁעָלֶיהָ בֵּין שֶׁהָיָה הוּא בַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה בֵּין שֶׁאֵינוֹ בַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה וְכָל כַּיּוֹצֵא מִדְּבָרִים אֵלּוּ אֵינוֹ גֵּזֶל וְיִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁגָּבָה אוֹתָן לַמֶּלֶךְ אֵינוֹ בְּחֶזְקַת גַּזְלָן וַהֲרֵי הוּא כָּשֵׁר. וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא יוֹסִיף וְלֹא יְשַׁנֶּה וְלֹא יִקַּח לְעַצְמוֹ כְּלוּם:

13

Similarly, if a king becomes angered with a servant or an attendant who is one of his subjects and confiscates his field or his courtyard, it is not considered to be robbery, and one is permitted to benefit from it. If a person purchases it from the king, it becomes his and the original owners cannot expropriate it from him. For this is the law exercised by all kings: to confiscate all the property of their attendants if they become angered by them.

Thus, it is the king who annulled the ownership over this courtyard or field, making it ownerless. Therefore, the person buying it from the king legally acquires it.

If, however, a king confiscates a courtyard or a field from one of the subjects of his country in a manner that is not in accordance with the laws that he enacted, he is considered to be a robber, and the owners may expropriate the property from the person who purchased it from the king.

יג

וְכֵן מֶלֶךְ שֶׁכָּעַס עַל אֶחָד מֵעֲבָדָיו וְשַׁמָּשָׁיו מִבְּנֵי הַמְּדִינָה וְלָקַח שָׂדֵהוּ אוֹ חֲצֵרוֹ אֵינָהּ גֵּזֶל וּמֻתָּר לֵהָנוֹת בָּהּ וְהַלּוֹקְחָהּ מִן הַמֶּלֶךְ הֲרֵי הִיא שֶׁלּוֹ וְאֵין הַבְּעָלִים מוֹצִיאִין אוֹתָהּ מִיָּדוֹ. שֶׁזֶּה דִּין הַמְּלָכִים כֻּלָּם לִקַּח כָּל מָמוֹן שַׁמָּשֵׁיהֶם כְּשֶׁכּוֹעֲסִין עֲלֵיהֶם וַהֲרֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ הִפְקִיעַ שִׁעְבּוּדָן וְנַעֲשֵׂית חָצֵר זוֹ אוֹ שָׂדֶה זוֹ כְּהֶפְקֵר וְכָל הַקּוֹנֶה אוֹתָהּ מִן הַמֶּלֶךְ זָכָה בָּהּ. אֲבָל מֶלֶךְ שֶׁלָּקַח חָצֵר אוֹ שָׂדֶה שֶׁל אֶחָד מִבְּנֵי הַמְּדִינָה שֶׁלֹּא בַּדִּינִין שֶׁחָקַק הֲרֵי זֶה גַּזְלָן וְהַלּוֹקֵחַ מִמֶּנּוּ מוֹצִיאִין הַבְּעָלִים מִיָּדוֹ:

14

The general principle is: Any law that a king decrees to be universally applicable, and not merely applying to one person, is not considered robbery. But whenever he takes from one person alone in a manner that does not conform to a known law, but rather seizes the property from the person arbitrarily, it is considered to be robbery.

Therefore, when the king's tax collectors and enforcement officers sell fields because the owner did not pay the fixed tax for the field, the sale is binding. A head tax, however, is the personal responsibility of each person and it may not be collected from his property. Thus, if a field was sold because an individual was delinquent in paying the head tax, the sale is not binding, unless this is the law enacted by this particular king.

יד

כְּלָלוֹ שֶׁל דָּבָר כָּל דִּין שֶׁיַּחְקֹק אוֹתוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ לַכּל וְלֹא יִהְיֶה לְאָדָם אֶחָד בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ אֵינוֹ גֵּזֶל. וְכָל שֶׁיִּקַּח מֵאִישׁ זֶה בִּלְבַד שֶׁלֹּא כַּדָּת הַיְדוּעָה לַכּל אֶלָּא חָמַס אֶת זֶה הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּזֶל. לְפִיכָךְ גַּבָּאֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ וְשׁוֹטְרָיו שֶׁמּוֹכְרִים הַשָּׂדוֹת בְּמַס הַקָּצוּב עַל הַשָּׂדוֹת מִמְכָּרָן מִמְכָּר. אֲבָל מַס שֶׁעַל כָּל אִישׁ וְאִישׁ אֵינוֹ גּוֹבֶה אֶלָּא מִן הָאָדָם עַצְמוֹ וְאִם מָכְרוּ הַשָּׂדֶה בְּמַס שֶׁעַל הָרֹאשׁ הֲרֵי זֶה אֵינוֹ מִמְכָּר אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הָיָה דִּין הַמֶּלֶךְ כָּךְ:

15

The following rules apply when the law of a king is that whoever pays the tax for a particular field acquires ownership of that field. If the owner of a field flees to avoid paying the property tax, and another person pays this tax to the king and derives benefit from that field, it is not considered to be robbery.

The one who paid the taxes may reap the benefit of the field provided he continues to pay the taxes until the owners return and pay this duty. For the law of a king is binding, as stated above.

טו

מֶלֶךְ שֶׁהָיוּ דִּינָיו שֶׁכָּל שֶׁלֹּא יִתֵּן הַמַּס שֶׁעַל הַשָּׂדֶה תִּהְיֶה הַשָּׂדֶה לְנוֹתֵן הַמַּס וּבָרַח בַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה מִפְּנֵי הַמַּס וּבָא זֶה וְנָתַן מַס שֶׁעָלֶיהָ לַמֶּלֶךְ וְאָכַל פֵּרוֹתֶיהָ אֵין זֶה גֵּזֶל אֶלָּא אוֹכֵל פֵּרוֹת וְנוֹתֵן הַמַּס עַד שֶׁיַּחְזְרוּ הַבְּעָלִים שֶׁדִּין הַמֶּלֶךְ דִּין הוּא כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ:

16

Similarly, if a king decrees that whoever pays a head tax for a person who has not paid acquires the delinquent person as a servant the decree is binding. If one Jew comes and pays a head tax for another indigent, he may compel him to work beyond ordinary limits, for the laws of a king are binding. He may not, however, have him toil as a slave.

טז

וְכֵן מֶלֶךְ שֶׁגָּזַר שֶׁכָּל מִי שֶׁיִּתֵּן מַס הַקָּצוּב עַל הָאִישׁ יִשְׁתַּעְבֵּד בָּזֶה שֶׁלֹּא נָתַן וּבָא יִשְׂרָאֵל וְנָתַן הַמַּס שֶׁעַל יִשְׂרָאֵל זֶה הֶעָנִי הֲרֵי זֶה עוֹבֵד בּוֹ יוֹתֵר מִדַּאי שֶׁדִּין הַמֶּלֶךְ דִּין. אֲבָל אֵינוֹ עוֹבֵד בּוֹ כְּעֶבֶד:

17

When a king cuts down trees belonging to private people and uses them for a bridge, one is permitted to cross over it. Similarly, if he destroys homes in order to construct a road or a wall, it is permitted to benefit from it. The same principle applies in all analogous situations, because the laws of a king are binding.

יז

מֶלֶךְ שֶׁכָּרַת אִילָנוֹת שֶׁל בַּעֲלֵי בָּתִּים וְעָשָׂה מֵהֶן גֶּשֶׁר מֻתָּר לַעֲבֹר עָלָיו. וְכֵן אִם הָרַס בָּתִּים וַעֲשָׂאָן דֶּרֶךְ אוֹ חוֹמָה מֻתָּר לֵהָנוֹת בָּהּ. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה שֶׁדִּין הַמֶּלֶךְ דִּין:

18

When does the above apply? When the coins issued by a king are the tender of the land. This indicates that the inhabitants of that land have accepted him and consider him to be their leader and themselves to be his subjects.

If, however, the coins he issues are not the tender of the land, he is considered to be a robber who takes by the force of arms. He and his servants are like a band of armed thieves, whose laws are not binding. Such a king and his servants are considered to be robbers in all respects.

יח

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּמֶלֶךְ שֶׁמַּטְבְּעוֹ יוֹצֵא בְּאוֹתָן הָאֲרָצוֹת שֶׁהֲרֵי הִסְכִּימוּ עָלָיו בְּנֵי אוֹתָהּ הָאָרֶץ וְסָמְכָה דַּעְתָּן שֶׁהוּא אֲדוֹנֵיהֶם וְהֵם לוֹ עֲבָדִים. אֲבָל אִם אֵין מַטְבְּעוֹ יוֹצֵא הֲרֵי הוּא כְּגַזְלָן בַּעַל זְרוֹעַ וּכְמוֹ חֲבוּרַת לִסְטִים הַמְזֻיָּנִין שֶׁאֵין דִּינֵיהֶן דִּין וְכֵן מֶלֶךְ זֶה וְכָל עֲבָדָיו גַּזְלָנִין לְכָל דָּבָר: