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Exodus 23 (The Message)

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1 "Don't pass on malicious gossip. 2 Don't go along with the crowd in doing evil and don't fudge your testimony in a case just to please the crowd. 3 And just because someone is poor, don't show favoritism in a dispute. 4 "If you find your enemy's ox or donkey loose, take it back to him 5 If you see the donkey of someone who hates you lying helpless under its load, don't walk off and leave it. Help it up. 6 "When there is a dispute concerning your poor, don't tamper with the justice due them. 7 "Stay clear of false accusations. Don't contribute to the death of innocent and good people. I don't let the wicked off the hook. 8 "Don't take bribes. Bribes blind perfectly good eyes and twist the speech of good people. 9 "Don't take advantage of a stranger. You know what it's like to be a stranger; you were strangers in Egypt. 10 "Sow your land for six years and gather in its crops, 11 but in the seventh year leave it alone and give it a rest so that your poor may eat from it. What they leave, let the wildlife have. Do the same with your vineyards and olive groves. 12 "Work for six days and rest the seventh so your ox and donkey may rest and your servant and migrant workers may have time to get their needed rest. 13 "Listen carefully to everything I tell you. Don't pay attention to other gods - don't so much as mention their names. 14 "Three times a year you are to hold a festival for me 15 "Hold the spring Festival of Unraised Bread when you eat unraised bread for seven days at the time set for the month of Abib, as I commanded you. That was the month you came out of Egypt. No one should show up before me empty-handed. 16 "Hold the summer Festival of Harvest when you bring in the firstfruits of all your work in the fields. "Hold the autumn Festival of Ingathering at the end of the season when you bring in the year's crops. 17 "Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Master, God. 18 "Don't offer the blood of a sacrifice to me with anything that has yeast in it. "Don't leave the fat from my festival offering out overnight. 19 "Bring the choice first produce of the year to the house of your God. "Don't boil a kid in its mother's milk 20 "Now get yourselves ready. I'm sending my Angel ahead of you to guard you in your travels, to lead you to the place that I've prepared. 21 Pay close attention to him. Obey him. Don't go against him. He won't put up with your rebellions because he's acting on my authority 22 But if you obey him and do everything I tell you, I'll be an enemy to your enemies, I'll fight those who fight you. 23 When my Angel goes ahead of you and leads you to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, I'll clear the country of them. 24 So don't worship or serve their gods; don't do anything they do because I'm going to wipe them right off the face of the Earth and smash their sacred phallic pillars to bits. 25 "But you - you serve your God and he'll bless your food and your water. I'll get rid of the sickness among you; 26 there won't be any miscarriages nor barren women in your land. I'll make sure you live full and complete lives. 27 "I'll send my Terror on ahead of you and throw those peoples you're approaching into a panic. All you'll see of your enemies is the backs of their necks. 28 "And I'll send Despair on ahead of you. It will push the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites out of your way. 29 I won't get rid of them all at once lest the land grow up in weeds and the wild animals take over. 30 Little by little I'll get them out of there while you have a chance to get your crops going and make the land your own. 31 I will make your borders stretch from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea and from the Wilderness to the Euphrates River. I'm turning everyone living in that land over to you; go ahead and drive them out. 32 "Don't make any deals with them or their gods. 33 They are not to stay in the same country with you lest they get you to sin by worshiping their gods. Beware. That's a huge danger."
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