Exodus 23

Exodus 23:1-33 . LAWS CONCERNING SLANDER, &c.

14-18. Three times . . . keep a feast . . . in the year--This was the institution of the great religious festivals--"The feast of unleavened bread," or the passover--"the feast of harvest," or pentecost--"the feast of ingathering," or the feast of tabernacles, which was a memorial of the dwelling in booths in the wilderness, and which was observed in the seventh month ( Exodus 12:2 ). All the males were enjoined to repair to the tabernacle and afterwards the temple, and the women frequently went. The institution of this national custom was of the greatest importance in many ways: by keeping up a national sense of religion and a public uniformity in worship, by creating a bond of unity, and also by promoting internal commerce among the people. Though the absence of all the males at these three festivals left the country defenseless, a special promise was given of divine protection, and no incursion of enemies was ever permitted to happen on those occasions.

19. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk--A prohibition against imitating the superstitious rites of the idolaters in Egypt, who, at the end of their harvest, seethed a kid in its mother's milk and sprinkled the broth as a magical charm on their gardens and fields, to render them more productive the following season.

20-25. Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way--The communication of these laws, made to Moses and by him rehearsed to the people, was concluded by the addition of many animating promises, intermingled with several solemn warnings that lapses into sin and idolatry would not be tolerated or passed with impunity.

21. my name is in him--This angel is frequently called Jehovah and Elohim, that is, God.

28. I will send hornets before thee, &c. instrument of divine judgment, but variously interpreted: as hornets in a literal sense [BOCHART]; as a pestilential disease [ROSENMULLER]; as a terror of the Lord, an extraordinary dejection [JUNIUS].

29, 30. I will not drive . . . out . . . in one year; lest the land become desolate--Many reasons recommend a gradual extirpation of the former inhabitants of Canaan. But only one is here specified--the danger lest, in the unoccupied grounds, wild beasts should inconveniently multiply; a clear proof that the promised land was more than sufficient to contain the actual population of the Israelites.

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