Ex 23:1-33. Laws concerning
1. put not thine hand—join not
2. decline—depart, deviate from the
straight path of rectitude.
embellish—thou shalt not varnish the cause even of a poor man to
give it a better coloring than it merits.
10. six years thou shalt sow thy
land—intermitting the cultivation of the land every seventh
year. But it appears that even then there was a spontaneous produce
which the poor were permitted freely to gather for their use, and the
beasts driven out fed on the remainder, the owners of fields not being
allowed to reap or collect the fruits of the vineyard or oliveyard
during the course of this sabbatical year. This was a regulation
subservient to many excellent purposes; for, besides inculcating the
general lesson of dependence on Providence, and of confidence in His
faithfulness to His promise respecting the triple increase on the sixth
25:20, 21), it gave the
Israelites a practical proof that they held their properties of the
Lord as His tenants, and must conform to His rules on pain of
forfeiting the lease of them.
12. Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the
seventh day thou shalt rest—This law is repeated [Ex 20:9] lest any might suppose there was
a relaxation of its observance during the sabbatical year.
13. make no mention of the name of other gods,
&c.—that is, in common conversation, for a familiar use of
them would tend to lessen horror of idolatry.
14-18. Three times … keep a feast … in
the year—This was the institution of the great religious
festivals—"The feast of unleavened bread," or the
passover—"the feast of harvest," or pentecost—"the feast of
ingathering," or the feast of tabernacles, which was a memorial of the
dwelling in booths in the wilderness, and which was observed in the
seventh month (Ex 12:2). All
the males were enjoined to repair to the tabernacle and afterwards the
temple, and the women frequently went. The institution of this national
custom was of the greatest importance in many ways: by keeping up a
national sense of religion and a public uniformity in worship, by
creating a bond of unity, and also by promoting internal commerce among
the people. Though the absence of all the males at these three
festivals left the country defenseless, a special promise was given of
divine protection, and no incursion of enemies was ever permitted to
happen on those occasions.
19. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's
milk—A prohibition against imitating the superstitious rites
of the idolaters in Egypt, who, at the end of their harvest, seethed a
kid in its mother's milk and sprinkled the broth as a magical charm on
their gardens and fields, to render them more productive the following
season. [See on De 14:21].
20-25. Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to
keep thee in the way—The communication of these laws, made to
Moses and by him rehearsed to the people, was concluded by the addition
of many animating promises, intermingled with several solemn warnings
that lapses into sin and idolatry would not be tolerated or passed with
21. my name is in him—This angel is
frequently called Jehovah and Elohim, that is, God.
28. I will send hornets before thee, &c.
(See on Jos 24:12)—Some instrument of
divine judgment, but variously interpreted: as hornets in a literal
sense [Bochart]; as a pestilential
disease [Rosenmuller]; as a terror of
the Lord, an extraordinary dejection [Junius].
29, 30. I will not drive … out … in
one year; lest the land become desolate—Many reasons
recommend a gradual extirpation of the former inhabitants of Canaan.
But only one is here specified—the danger lest, in the unoccupied
grounds, wild beasts should inconveniently multiply; a clear proof that
the promised land was more than sufficient to contain the actual
population of the Israelites.