Insights: The Newsletter of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

Article Title

Thieves and Robbers



ancient Near Eastern law, ganab, outsider, thief, robber


Although there isn't much difference between a thief and a robber in most minds, there was a considerable difference between the two under ancient Near Eastern law. A thief (ganab) was usually a local person who stole from his neighbor. He was dealt with judicially. He was tried and punished civilly, most often by a court composed of his fellow townspeople. A robber, on the other hand, was an outsider, a brigand or highwayman. He was dealt with militarily. These outlaws could be executed summarily.