Exodus 23

1 Don't spread false rumors. Don't plot with evil people to act as a lying witness.
2 Don't take sides with important people to do wrong. When you act as a witness, don't stretch the truth to favor important people.
3 But don't privilege unimportant people in their lawsuits either.
4 When you happen to come upon your enemy's ox or donkey that has wandered off, you should bring it back to them.
5 When you see a donkey that belongs to someone who hates you and it's lying down under its load and you are inclined not to help set it free, you must help set it free.
6 Don't undermine the justice that your poor deserve in their lawsuits.
7 Stay away from making a false charge. Don't put an innocent person who is in the right to death, because I will not consider innocent those who do such evil.
8 Don't take a bribe, because a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.
9 Don't oppress an immigrant. You know what it's like to be an immigrant, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt.

Sabbaths and festivals

10 For six years you should plant crops on your land and gather in its produce.
11 But in the seventh year you should leave it alone and undisturbed so that the poor among your people may eat. What they leave behind, the wild animals may eat. You should do the same with your vineyard and your olive trees.
12 Do your work in six days. But on the seventh day you should rest so that your ox and donkey may rest, and even the child of your female slave and the immigrant may be refreshed.
13 Be careful to obey everything that I have said to you. Don't call on the names of other gods. Don't even mention them.
14 You should observe a festival for me three times a year.
15 Observe the Festival of Unleavened Bread, as I commanded you. Eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, because it was in that month that you came out of Egypt. No one should appear before me empty-handed.
16 Observe the Harvest Festival for the early produce of your crops that you planted in the field, and the Gathering Festival at the end of the year, when you gather your crop of fruit from the field.
17 All your males should appear three times a year before the LORD God.
18 Don't offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened. Don't let the fat of my festival offering be left over until the morning.
19 Bring the best of your land's early produce to the LORD your God's temple. Don't boil a young goat in its mother's milk.

God’s promise: messenger and land

20 I'm about to send a messenger in front of you to guard you on your way and to bring you to the place that I've made ready.
21 Pay attention to him and do as he says. Don't rebel against him. He won't forgive the things you do wrong because I am with him.
22 But if you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, then I'll be an enemy to your enemies and fight those fighting you.
23 When my messenger goes in front of you and brings you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I wipe them out,
24 don't bow down to their gods, worship them, or do what they do. Instead, you should completely destroy them and smash their sacred stone pillars to bits.
25 If you worship the LORD your God, the LORD will bless your bread and your water. I'll take sickness away from you,
26 and no woman will miscarry or be infertile in your land. I'll let you live a full, long life.
27 My terrifying reputation will precede you, and I'll throw all the people that you meet into a panic. I'll make all your enemies turn their backs to you.
28 I'll send insect swarms in front of you and drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you.
29 I won't drive them out before you in a single year so the land won't be abandoned and the wild animals won't multiply around you.
30 I'll drive them out before you little by little, until your numbers grow and you eventually possess the land.
31 I'll set your borders from the Reed Sea to the Philistine Sea and from the desert to the River. I'll hand the inhabitants of the land over to you, and you will drive them out before you.
32 Don't make any covenants with them or their gods.
33 Don't allow them to live in your land, or else they will lead you to sin against me. If you worship their gods, it will become a dangerous trap for you.

Images for Exodus 23

Exodus 23 Commentary

Chapter 23

Laws against falsehood and injustice. (1-9) The year of rest, The sabbath, The three festivals. (10-19) God promises to conduct the Israelites to Canaan. (20-33)

Verses 1-9 In the law of Moses are very plain marks of sound moral feeling, and of true political wisdom. Every thing in it is suited to the desired and avowed object, the worship of one only God, and the separation of Israel from the pagan world. Neither parties, friends, witnesses, nor common opinions, must move us to lessen great faults, to aggravate small ones, excuse offenders, accuse the innocent, or misrepresent any thing.

Verses 10-19 Every seventh year the land was to rest. They must not plough or sow it; what the earth produced of itself, should be eaten, and not laid up. This law seems to have been intended to teach dependence on Providence, and God's faithfulness in sending the larger increase while they kept his appointments. It was also typical of the heavenly rest, when all earthly labours, cares, and interests shall cease for ever. All respect to the gods of the heathen is strictly forbidden. Since idolatry was a sin to which the Israelites leaned, they must blot out the remembrance of the gods of the heathen. Solemn religious attendance on God, in the place which he should choose, is strictly required. They must come together before the Lord. What a good Master do we serve, who has made it our duty to rejoice before him! Let us devote with pleasure to the service of God that portion of our time which he requires, and count his sabbaths and ordinances to be a feast unto our souls. They were not to come empty-handed; so now, we must not come to worship God empty-hearted; our souls must be filled with holy desires toward him, and dedications of ourselves to him; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Verses 20-33 It is here promised that they should be guided and kept in their way through the wilderness to the land of promise, Behold, I send an angel before thee, mine angel. The precept joined with this promise is, that they be obedient to this angel whom God would send before them. Christ is the Angel of Jehovah; ( 1 Corinthians. 10:9 ) a comfortable settlement in the land of Canaan. How reasonable are the conditions of this promise; that they should serve the only true God; not the gods of the nations, which are no gods at all. How rich are the particulars of this promise! The comfort of their food, the continuance of their health, the increase of their wealth, the prolonging their lives to old age. Thus hath godliness the promise of the life that now is. It is promised that they should subdue their enemies. Hosts of hornets made way for the hosts of Israel; such mean creatures can God use for chastising his people's enemies. In real kindness to the church, its enemies are subdued by little and little; thus we are kept on our guard, and in continual dependence on God. Corruptions are driven out of the hearts of God's people, not all at once, but by little and little. The precept with this promise is, that they should not make friendship with idolaters. Those that would keep from bad courses, must keep from bad company. It is dangerous to live in a bad neighbourhood; others' sins will be our snares. Our greatest danger is from those who would make us sin against God.

Footnotes 3

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO EXODUS 23

This chapter contains several laws, chiefly judicial, relating to the civil polity of Israel, as concerning witness borne and judgment made of cases in courts of judicature, without any respect to poor or rich, and without the influence of a bribe, Ex 23:1-3,6-8, concerning doing good to an enemy in case any of his cattle go astray, or fall under their burden, Ex 23:4,5, and of the oppression of a stranger, Ex 23:9, and then follow others concerning the sabbath of the seventh year, and of the seventh day, with a caution against the use of the names of idols, Ex 23:10-13, next are laws concerning the appearance of all their males at the three feasts, Ex 23:14-17, and concerning the slaying of the sacrifice of the passover, and bringing the first of the firstfruits of the land, Ex 23:18,19 and then a promise is made of sending an angel to them to bring them into the land of Canaan, where they should carefully avoid all idolatry, and show a just indignation against it, and serve the Lord, and then it would be well with them, Ex 23:20-26, and particularly it is promised, that the Lord would send his fear, and his hornets, before them, to destroy the inhabitants of the land, and drive out the rest by little and little, until they should possess the utmost borders of it, which are fixed, Ex 23:27-31, and the chapter is concluded with a direction not to make a covenant with these people, or their gods, nor suffer them to dwell among them, lest they should be a snare unto them, Ex 23:32,33.

Exodus 23 Commentaries