Exodus 23:5

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.

Exodus 23:5 Meaning and Commentary

Exodus 23:5

If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his
Fallen down, and such a burden upon him that he cannot rise up again, but lies under it, and the owner of it is not able of himself to raise it up again:

and wouldst forbear to help him;
show an inclination to pass on without giving him any assistance to get up his beast again; or "wouldst thou forbear to help him?" F23 as Jarchi, and others, read with an interrogation, could it be in thine heart to forbear helping him? couldest thou go on, and take no notice of him and his case, and not join him in endeavouring to get up his beast again, that he may proceed its his journey? canst thou be so cruel and hardhearted, though he is thine enemy? but if thou art, know this,

thou shalt surely help with him;
to get up his ass again: hence the Jewish canon runs thus F24,

``if an ass is unloaded and loaded four or five times, a man is bound, i.e. to help, as it is said, "in helping thou shalt help"; if he (the owner) goes away, and sets himself down, seeing the command is upon thee, if it is thy will and pleasure to unload, unload, he is free; for it is said, with him; if he is an old man, or sick, he is bound, the command of the law is to unload, but not to load.''

The words may be rendered, "in leaving thou shalt leave with him" F25; either leave or forsake thine enmity to help him, as Onkelos; or leave thy business, thou art about, to lend him an hand to raise up his beast again.


F23 (bzem tldxw) "num desines sublevare eum?" some in Vatablus; "cessabis auxitiari ei?" Drusius; "desines auxiliari ei?" Pagninus.
F24 Misn. Bava Metzia, c. 2. sect. 10.
F25 "Deserendo deseres cum eo", Montanus; so Ainsworth.

Exodus 23:5 In-Context

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.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.