Exodus 23:19

19 “As you harvest your crops, bring the very best of the first harvest to the house of the LORD your God. “You must not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.

Exodus 23:19 Meaning and Commentary

Exodus 23:19

The first of the first fruits of thy land
Both of the barley and wheat harvest, and of the wine and oil; yea, Jarchi says, the seventh year was obliged to first fruits; and Josephus F4 relates, that the Jews were so tenacious of this law, that even in the famine in the time of Claudius Caesar, the first fruits were brought to the temple, and were not meddled with:

thou shall bring into the house of the Lord thy God;
to the tabernacle, during the standing of that, and the temple when that was built; which were the perquisites of the priests who officiated in the house and service of God: so Pliny says F5 of the ancient Romans, that they tasted not of the new fruits or wines before the first fruits were offered to the priests, which seems to have been borrowed from hence:

thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk:
and so a calf, or a lamb F6, as Jarchi interprets it; which some understand of slaying a young kid and its dam together, and so is a law against cruelty, like that law of not taking the dam with the young, on finding a bird's nest, ( Deuteronomy 22:6 Deuteronomy 22:7 ) others, of killing, dressing, and eating a kid, while it sucks the milk of its mother, before it is eight days old, and so a law against luxury; but the Jews generally understand it of boiling, or eating the flesh of any creature and milk together F7: so the Targum of Onkelos paraphrases it,

``ye shall not eat flesh with milk;''

and the Targum of Jonathan is,

``ye shall neither boil nor eat the flesh and the milk mixed together:''

hence, according to the rules they give, the flesh of any beast, or of a fowl, is not to be set upon a table on which cheese is (being made of milk), lest they should be eaten together; nor may cheese be eaten after flesh until some considerable time, and then, if there is any flesh sticks between a man's teeth, he must remove it, and wash and cleanse his mouth; nor may cheese be eaten on a table cloth on which meat is, nor be cut with a knife that flesh is cut with F8: so careful are they of breaking this law, as they understand it: but the words are, doubtless, to be taken literally, of not boiling a kid in its mother's milk; and is thought by many to refer to some custom of this kind, either among the Israelites, which they had somewhere learnt, or among the idolatrous Heathens, and therefore cautioned against; Maimonides and Abarbinel both suppose it was an idolatrous rite, but are not able to produce an instance of it out of any writer of theirs or others: but Dr. Cudworth has produced a passage out of a Karaite author F9, who affirms,

``it was a custom of the Heathens at the ingathering of their fruits to take a kid and seethe it in the milk of the dam, and then, in a magical way, go about and besprinkle all their trees, fields, gardens, and orchards, thinking by this means they should make them fructify, and bring forth fruit again more abundantly the next year:''

and the Targum of Jonathan on ( Exodus 34:26 ) seems to have respect to this, where, having paraphrased the words as here quoted above, adds,

``lest I should destroy the fruit of your trees with the unripe grape, the shoots and leaves together:''

and if this may be depended upon, the law comes in here very aptly, after the feast of ingathering, and the bringing in the first fruits of the land into the Lord's house.


F4 Antiqu. l. 3. c. 15. sect. 3.
F5 Nat. Hist. l. 18. c. 2.
F6 Vid. T. Bab. Cholin. fol. 114. 1.
F7 Tikkune Zohar, Correct. 14. fol. 26. 1.
F8 Schulchan Aruch, par. 2. Yore Deah, Hilchot Bashar Bechaleb, c. 88. sect. 1. & 89. sect. 1. 4.
F9 Apud Gregory's Notes & Observ. c. 19. p. 97, 98.

Exodus 23:19 In-Context

17 At these three times each year, every man in Israel must appear before the Sovereign, the LORD .
18 “You must not offer the blood of my sacrificial offerings together with any baked goods containing yeast. And do not leave the fat from the festival offerings until the next morning.
19 “As you harvest your crops, bring the very best of the first harvest to the house of the LORD your God. “You must not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.
20 “See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you.
21 Pay close attention to him, and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion.
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