Exodus 23

How to remain righteous 1
Fairness in judgment 6
Rest for land on seventh year 10
Three required feasts 14
Angel of the Lord promised 20
Enemies to be driven out; avoid covenants with them 27
.1 ¶ Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.
 2  Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment:
 2  Thou shalt not follow the multitude for evil; neither shalt thou answer in a cause, to go after the multitude to pervert [judgment]. (Darby)
 3  Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause.
 3  Neither shalt thou favour a poor man in his cause. (Darby)
.4  If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.
 5  If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.
  1 - False report An extension of the ninth commandment ex2016.
  2 - Follow ... to do evil The word, "do," is not in the Hebrew. Reading the verse without it gives the broader meaning of more than actions.
  3 - Countenance a poor man Being fair and just is important in spite of who is involved.
  4 - Enemy's ox See Jesus' words to the rabbis' distortion of the law mt2304. This does not apply for public enemies de2303-6.
  5 - Ass under It is important to help whether the person is an enemy or not. Here the donkey fell under the load.
.6  Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause.
 7  Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.
.8  And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.
.9  Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for .ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
  9 - Oppress a stranger When we realize how people have treated us unfairly with hatred, we can forgive them and be careful to treat all we meet with kindness pr0427.
.10 ¶ And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof:
 11  But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.
 12  Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed.
 13  And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.
  11 - Seventh year ... rest Unfortunately land owners frequently ignored this rule. The purpose of the land rest was to help the poor le25101. The way of responsible living is different today and God's expectations are different although the principles are unchanged. See note below.
.14  Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year.
 15  Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:)
.16  And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.
  14 - Three times ... feast "... 1. The feast of the Passover was celebrated to keep in remembrance the wonderful deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt. 2. The feast of Pentecost, called also the feast of harvest and the feast of weeks, Ex 34:22, was celebrated fifty days after the Passover to commemorate the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, which took place fifty days after, and hence called by the Greeks Pentecost.  3. The feast of Tabernacles, called also the feast of the ingathering, was celebrated about the 15th of the month Tisri to commemorate the Israelites' dwelling in tents for forty years, during their stay in the wilderness." (Clarke)
  15 - Unleavened bread The feast came with Passover. The leaven (yeast) represented sin ex1233, mt1606, 1co0506. None shall appear ... empty. Freewill offerings were expected.
  16 - Feast of harvest 50 days after the barley sheaf was offered (v25). It was called the Feast of Weeks being seven weeks later.
   The third feast was the Feast of Ingathering or the "Feast of Tabernacles."
.17  Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord GOD.
 18  Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my sacrifice remain until the morning.
.19  The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.
  19 - Seethe a kid Archaeologists have found that this was a pagan worship practice. 
.20 ¶ Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.    20 - Angel before thee Here in the closing part of the "book of the covenant" is the promise of the Angel of the covenant the Messiah or Christ. mal0301. The word for "angel" also means "messenger." Christ was the messenger or "angel" to communicate the character and ways of the Father to fallen humanity. ge2201, ge2211, ex3234, is6307, jn0856, 1ti0205.
  20 - In the way Guidance was both physical and spiritual. ex3309, de3115.
.21  Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.
.22  But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.
 23  For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.
.24  Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.
.25  And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.
 26  There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in thy land: the number of thy days I will fulfil.

  21 - Not pardon He would not pardon without repentance. His promises which depend on human response are conditional.
  24 - Images Or "pillars" See on ge2818.
.27  I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee.
.28  And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee.
 29  I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee.
.30  By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.
  27 - Fear Not always relied on, but see jos0501.
.31  And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee.
.32  Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.
.33  They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.
  33 - They shall not dwell But they did and the people of Israel followed their pagan practices!
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The seventh year

    ". . . the Israelites were instructed to sow and reap their fields for six successive years; but every seventh year they were commanded to let the land rest. Whatever grew of itself was to be gathered by the poor; and what they left, the beasts of the field were to eat. This was to impress the people with the fact that it was God's land which they were permitted to possess for a time; that he was the rightful owner, the original proprietor, and that he would have special consideration made for the poor and unfortunate. This provision was made to lessen suffering, to bring some ray of hope, to flash some gleam of sunshine, into the lives of the suffering and distressed. Is any such statute regarded in England? Far from it. The Lord set needy human beings before the beasts; but this order has been reversed there, and, compared with the poor, horses, dogs, and other dumb animals are treated as princes." (E.G. White, Historical Sketches, p. 165.) Of course the principles apply to all of us, not just the people of England in 1886).
    Does God expect us to plant a garden and to let it go to to weeds every seventh year? Probably not because most of us do not live on subsistence farming as people tended to do in ancient times. We can be better stewards of the resources He has given us by following the principles above and purchasing most or all of our food.
    Because we see principles, do we have the right to apply Bible texts to fit our needs? No. How do we decide. Most scriptural requirements are clearly for everyone. The requirement of paying tithe, for example, was apparently not known before Jacob made a pledge to do so when fleeing from home Gen. 28:20. This became understood as a principle. See Malachi 3:7-11 and Matt. 23:23. The 2nd and 4th commandments have been overlooked by many today.
    Also see the comments for verses 10 and 11 above.