Deuteronomy 22:2

And if thy brother be not nigh unto thee, or if thou know him not, then thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him again.

And if thy brother be not nigh unto thee,.... Does not live in the same neighbourhood, but at some considerable distance; so that he cannot soon and easily be informed of his cattle, or they be sent to him:

or if thou know him not; the owner of them, what is his name, or where he lives:

then thou shall bring it into thine house; not into his dwelling house, but some out house, barn, or stable:

and it shall be with thee; remain in his custody, and be taken care of by him; and, as the Targum of Jonathan says, "be fed and nourished by him"; for, according to the Jewish canon {s}, whatsoever could work and eat, that should work and eat, and whatsoever did not work and eat was to be sold; for which there was a set time, as the commentators say {t}, for large cattle, as oxen, twelve months; for lesser cattle, as sheep, goats, &c. three months, here it is fixed,

until thy brother seek after it; though in the mean while the finder was to make use of means, whereby the owner might be informed of it; for whatsoever was lost, in which were marks and signs by which inquiries might be made, were to be proclaimed {u}; (and it is asked) how long a man was obliged to proclaim? until it was known to his neighbours; same say (he must proclaim it) at three feasts, and seven days after the last feast, so that he may go home three days, and return three days, and proclaim one day; if (the owner) tells what is lost, but does not tell the marks or signs, he may not give it him; and a deceiver, though he tells the signs, he may not give it him, as it is said, "until thy brother seek after it"; until thou inquirest of thy brother whether he is a deceiver or not: and elsewhere it is said {w}, formerly if a man lost anything, and gave the signs or marks of it, he took it; but after deceivers increased, it was ordered to be said to him, bring witnesses that thou art not a deceiver, and take it; and in the same place it is observed, that there was at Jerusalem a stone, called Eben Toim, "the stone of strays", and whoever had lost or found anything repaired thither, and gave the signs and marks of it, and took it:

and thou shalt restore it to him again; he having made it fully to appear to be his, and having defrayed all expenses in advertising and keeping it; but if no owner appear to claim it, or not to satisfaction, the finder was to keep it as his own; but otherwise he was by all means to restore it, or, as in Deuteronomy 23:1 "in restoring thou shalt restore them" {x}, that is, certainly restore them; and continually wherever it so happens: the Jewish canon is {y},

"if he restores it, and afterwards it strays away, and he restores it again and it strays away, even though four or five times, he is bound to restore it; as it is said, "in restoring thou shalt restore them"; Maimonides says {z}, that even an hundred times he is bound to restore them.''

{s} Misn. Bava Metzia, c. 2. sect. 7.
{t} Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.
{u} Misn. ib. sect. 5, 6, 7.
{w} T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 28. 2.
{x} Mbyvt bvh "reducendo reduces eos", Pagninus, Montanus.
{y} Misn. ut supra, (
{s}) sect. 9.
{z} Hilchot Gazelah ve abadah, c. 11. sect. 14.