Exodus 23

Laws of Justice and Mercy

1 “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.
2 “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd,
3 and do not show favoritism to a poor person in a lawsuit.
4 “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it.
5 If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.
6 “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits.
7 Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.
8 “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the innocent.
9 “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.

Sabbath Laws

10 “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops,
11 but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.
12 “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.
13 “Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.

The Three Annual Festivals

14 “Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me.
15 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt. “No one is to appear before me empty-handed.
16 “Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. “Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.
17 “Three times a year all the men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD.
18 “Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast. “The fat of my festival offerings must not be kept until morning.
19 “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God. “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.

God’s Angel to Prepare the Way

20 “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.
21 Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him.
22 If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you.
23 My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out.
24 Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces.
25 Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you,
26 and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.
27 “I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run.
28 I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way.
29 But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you.
30 Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.
31 “I will establish your borders from the Red Sea[a] to the Mediterranean Sea,[b] and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you.
32 Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods.
33 Do not let them live in your land or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to 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.

Cross References 63

  • 1. S Genesis 39:17; Matthew 19:18; Luke 3:14; Exodus 20:16; Psalms 101:5
  • 2. S Exodus 20:16; Deuteronomy 5:20; Deuteronomy 19:16-21; Psalms 27:12; Psalms 35:11; Proverbs 19:5; Acts 6:11
  • 3. ver 3,6,9; Leviticus 19:15,33; Deuteronomy 1:17; Deuteronomy 16:19; Deuteronomy 24:17; Deuteronomy 27:19; 1 Samuel 8:3
  • 4. Job 31:34
  • 5. Deuteronomy 1:17
  • 6. Romans 12:20
  • 7. Leviticus 6:3; Leviticus 19:11; Deuteronomy 22:1-3
  • 8. Deuteronomy 22:4
  • 9. S ver 2; Deuteronomy 23:16; Proverbs 22:22
  • 10. S Exodus 20:16; S Ephesians 4:25
  • 11. Matthew 27:4
  • 12. S Genesis 18:23
  • 13. Exodus 34:7; Deuteronomy 19:18; Deuteronomy 25:1
  • 14. S Exodus 18:21; Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 10:17; Deuteronomy 16:19; Deuteronomy 27:25; Job 15:34; Job 36:18; Psalms 26:10; Proverbs 6:35; Proverbs 15:27; Proverbs 17:8; Isaiah 1:23; Isaiah 5:23; Micah 3:11; Micah 7:3
  • 15. S ver 2; S Exodus 22:21; Leviticus 19:33-34; Ezekiel 22:7
  • 16. Leviticus 25:1-7; Nehemiah 10:31
  • 17. S Exodus 20:9; Luke 13:14
  • 18. Genesis 2:2-3
  • 19. Deuteronomy 4:9,23; 1 Timothy 4:16
  • 20. ver 32; Deuteronomy 12:3; Joshua 23:7; Psalms 16:4; Zechariah 13:2
  • 21. Deuteronomy 18:20; Joshua 23:7; Psalms 16:4; Hosea 2:17
  • 22. ver 17; S Exodus 12:14; Exodus 34:23,24; Deuteronomy 16:16; 1 Kings 9:25; 2 Chronicles 8:13; Ezekiel 46:9
  • 23. S Exodus 12:17; Matthew 26:17; Luke 22:1; Acts 12:3
  • 24. S Exodus 12:2
  • 25. S Exodus 22:29; Exodus 34:20
  • 26. Leviticus 23:15-21; Numbers 28:26; Deuteronomy 16:9; 2 Chronicles 8:13
  • 27. S Exodus 22:29; S Exodus 34:22
  • 28. Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 23:34,42; Deuteronomy 16:16; Deuteronomy 31:10; Ezra 3:4; Nehemiah 8:14; Zechariah 14:16
  • 29. Leviticus 23:39; Deuteronomy 16:13; Jeremiah 40:10
  • 30. S ver 14; Deuteronomy 16:16
  • 31. Exodus 34:25; Leviticus 2:11
  • 32. S Exodus 12:8; Deuteronomy 16:4
  • 33. S Exodus 22:29; S Exodus 34:22; S Numbers 18:12; Deuteronomy 26:2,10
  • 34. Exodus 34:26; Deuteronomy 14:21
  • 35. S Genesis 16:7; Exodus 14:19; Exodus 32:34
  • 36. Exodus 15:17
  • 37. Numbers 14:11; Deuteronomy 18:19; Jeremiah 13:15
  • 38. Deuteronomy 29:20; 2 Kings 24:4; Lamentations 1:17
  • 39. Numbers 17:10; Deuteronomy 9:7; Deuteronomy 31:27; Joshua 24:19; Psalms 25:7; Psalms 78:8,40,56; Psalms 106:33; Psalms 107:11; 1 John 5:16
  • 40. S Exodus 3:15
  • 41. S Exodus 15:26
  • 42. S Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 41:11; Jeremiah 30:20; Deuteronomy 30:7
  • 43. ver 20; Numbers 13:29; Numbers 21:21; Joshua 3:10; Joshua 24:8,11; Ezra 9:1; Psalms 135:11
  • 44. S Exodus 20:5
  • 45. Leviticus 18:3; Leviticus 20:23; Deuteronomy 9:4; Deuteronomy 12:30-31; Jeremiah 10:2
  • 46. Exodus 34:13; Numbers 33:52; Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 12:3; Judges 2:2; 2 Kings 18:4; 2 Kings 23:14
  • 47. Leviticus 26:1; Deuteronomy 16:22; 1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 3:2; 2 Kings 10:26; 2 Kings 17:10; 2 Chronicles 14:3; Isaiah 27:9
  • 48. Deuteronomy 6:13; Matthew 4:10
  • 49. Leviticus 26:3-13; Deuteronomy 7:12-15; Deuteronomy 28:1-14
  • 50. S Exodus 15:26
  • 51. Leviticus 26:3-4; Deuteronomy 7:14; Deuteronomy 28:4; Malachi 3:11
  • 52. S Genesis 15:15; Deuteronomy 4:1,40; Deuteronomy 32:47; Psalms 90:10; Job 5:26
  • 53. S Genesis 35:5; S Exodus 15:14; Deuteronomy 2:25
  • 54. S Exodus 14:24; Deuteronomy 7:23
  • 55. 2 Samuel 22:41; Psalms 18:40; Psalms 21:12
  • 56. Deuteronomy 7:20; Joshua 24:12
  • 57. Exodus 33:2; Exodus 34:11,24; Numbers 13:29; Deuteronomy 4:38; Deuteronomy 11:23; Deuteronomy 18:12; Joshua 3:10; Joshua 24:11; Psalms 78:55
  • 58. Deuteronomy 7:22
  • 59. Joshua 23:5
  • 60. S Genesis 2:14; Deuteronomy 34:2; Ezra 4:20; Genesis 15:18
  • 61. Deuteronomy 7:24; Deuteronomy 9:3; Joshua 21:44; Joshua 24:12,18; Psalms 80:8
  • 62. S Genesis 26:28; Exodus 34:12; Deuteronomy 7:2; Joshua 9:7; Judges 2:2; 1 Samuel 11:1; 1 Kings 15:19; 1 Kings 20:34; Ezekiel 17:13
  • 63. S Exodus 10:7; Deuteronomy 7:16; Psalms 106:36

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Or "the Sea of Reeds"
  • [b]. Hebrew "to the Sea of the Philistines"

Chapter Summary


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

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