Exodus 23

1 “You shall not spread a false report. Don’t join your hand with the wicked to be a malicious witness. 2 “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil. You shall not testify in court to side with a multitude to pervert justice. 3 You shall not favor a poor man in his cause. 4 “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. 5 If you see the donkey of him who hates you fallen down under his burden, don’t leave him, you shall surely help him with it. 6 “You shall not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. 7 “Keep far from a false charge, and don’t kill the innocent and righteous: for I will not justify the wicked. 8 “You shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds those who have sight and perverts the words of the righteous. 9 “You shall not oppress an alien, for you know the heart of an alien, since you were aliens in the land of Egypt. 10 “For six years you shall sow your land, and shall gather in its increase, 11 but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the animal of the field shall eat. In the same way, you shall deal with your vineyard and with your olive grove. 12 “Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant, and the alien may be refreshed. 13 “Be careful to do all things that I have said to you; and don’t invoke the name of other gods or even let them be heard out of your mouth. 14 “You shall observe a feast to me three times a year. 15 You shall observe the feast of unleavened bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib (for in it you came out of Egypt), and no one shall appear before me empty. 16 And the feast of harvest, the first fruits of your labors, which you sow in the field; and the feast of ingathering, at the end of the year, when you gather in your labors out of the field. 17 Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD. 18 “You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread. The fat of my feast shall not remain all night until the morning. 19 The first of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God. “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk. 20 “Behold, I send an angel before you, to keep you by the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. 21 Pay attention to him, and listen to his voice. Don’t provoke him, for he will not pardon your disobedience, for my name is in him. 22 But if you indeed listen to his voice, and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and an adversary to your adversaries. 23 For my angel shall go before you, and bring you in to the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Canaanite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite; and I will cut them off. 24 You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor follow their practices, but you shall utterly overthrow them and demolish their pillars. 25 You shall serve the LORD your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from amongst you. 26 No one will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will fulfill the number of your days. 27 I will send my terror before you, and will confuse all the people to whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28 I will send the hornet before you, which will drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before you. 29 I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate, and the animals of the field multiply against you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and inherit the land. 31 I will set your border from the Red Sea even to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. 32 You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. 33 They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me, for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

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; this is plainly taught by St. Paul, 1Co 10:9. They should have 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.

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