Exodus 23

Regulations Regarding Justice

1 " 'You will not {spread} a false report. Do not lift your hand with [the] wicked to be a malicious witness.
2 You will not {follow} a majority for evil, and you will not testify concerning a legal dispute to turn aside after a majority to pervert [justice].
3 You will not be partial to a powerless [person] in his legal dispute.
4 " 'If you come upon the ox of your enemy or his donkey going astray, you will certainly bring it back to him
5 If you see the donkey of your enemy lying down under its burden, you will refrain from abandoning him. You will surely arrange [it] with him.
6 " 'You will not pervert the justice of your poor in his legal dispute.
7 You will stay far from a {false charge}, and do not kill [the] innocent and [the] righteous, because I will not declare [the] wicked righteous.
8 And you will not take a bribe, because the bribe makes [the] sighted blind and ruins [the] words of [the] righteous.
9 And you will not oppress an alien; you yourselves know the feelings of the alien, because you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

Regulations Regarding Work and Festivals

10 " 'And six years you will sow your land and gather its yield.
11 But the seventh you will let it rest and leave it fallow, and the poor of your people will eat, and their remainder the animals of the field will eat. You will do likewise for your vineyard and for your olive trees.
12 " 'Six days you will do your work, but on the seventh day you will stop so that your ox and your donkey will rest and the son of your slave woman and the alien will be refreshed.
13 " 'And you will be attentive to all that I have said to you, and you will not {profess} the name of other gods; it will not be heard in your mouth.
14 " 'Three times in the year you will hold a festival for me
15 You will keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you will eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you at [the] appointed time, the month of Abib, because in it you came out from Egypt, and {no one will} appear before me empty-handed.
16 And [you will keep] the Feast of Harvest, [with] the firstfruits of your work, what you sow in the field. And [you will keep] the Feast of Harvest Gathering when the year goes out, when you gather your work from the field.
17 Three times in the year all your men will appear before the Lord Yahweh.
18 " 'You will not sacrifice the blood of my sacrifice together with [food with] yeast, and you will not leave the fat of my feast overnight until morning.
19 " 'The best of the firstfruits of your land you will bring to the house of Yahweh your God. " 'You will not boil a young goat in its mother's milk.

Reasons for Loyal Obedience

20 " 'Look, I [am about to] send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared.
21 Be attentive to him and listen to his voice; do not rebel against him, because he will not forgive your transgression, for my name is in him
22 But if you listen attentively to his voice and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes.
23 When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, I will wipe them out.
24 " 'You will not bow to their gods, and you will not serve them, and you will not act according to their actions, because you will utterly demolish them, and you will utterly break their stone pillars.
25 And you will serve Yahweh your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will remove sickness from among you.
26 There will be no one suffering miscarriage or infertile in your land. I will make full the number of your days.
27 " 'I will release my terror before you, and I will throw into confusion all the people against whom you come, and I will {make all your enemies turn their back to you}.
28 And I will send the hornet before you, and it will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you.
29 I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become a desolation and {the wild animals} multiply against you.
30 Little by little I will drive them out from before you until you are fruitful and take possession of the land.
31 " 'And I will set your boundary from the {Red Sea} and up to the sea of the Philistines and from [the] desert up to the river, because I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out from before you.
32 You will not make a covenant with them and with their gods.
33 They will not live in your land, lest they cause you to sin against me when you serve their gods, for it will 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.

Footnotes 26

  • [a]. Literally "lift"
  • [b]. Literally "be behind"
  • [c]. Or "many" or "the many"
  • [d]. Or "many" or "the many"
  • [e]. Or "a poor [person]"
  • [f]. Or "restore" or "put in order"
  • [g]. Literally "word of deception"
  • [h]. Or "treat as innocent" or "acquit"
  • [i]. Or "inner self" or "soul"
  • [j]. Hebrew "animal"
  • [k]. Literally "cause to remember," "bring to remembrance," or "mention" in prayer or praise
  • [l]. Literally "they will not"
  • [m]. Hebrew "Amorite"
  • [n]. Hebrew "Hittite"
  • [o]. Hebrew "Perizzite"
  • [p]. Hebrew "Canaanite"
  • [q]. Hebrew "Hivite"
  • [r]. Hebrew "Jebusite"
  • [s]. Or "give you a full life span"
  • [t]. Literally "give all your enemies to you back"
  • [u]. Hebrew "Hivite"
  • [v]. Hebrew "Canaanite"
  • [w]. Hebrew "Hittite"
  • [x]. Literally "the animal of the field"
  • [y]. Literally "sea of reed"
  • [z]. Or "the Euphrates"

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