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Justice for All


You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with the wicked to act as a malicious witness. 2You shall not follow a majority in wrongdoing; when you bear witness in a lawsuit, you shall not side with the majority so as to pervert justice; 3nor shall you be partial to the poor in a lawsuit.

4 When you come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey going astray, you shall bring it back.

5 When you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden and you would hold back from setting it free, you must help to set it free.

6 You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in their lawsuits. 7Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and those in the right, for I will not acquit the guilty. 8You shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the officials, and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.

9 You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

Sabbatical Year and Sabbath

10 For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; 11but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the wild animals may eat. You shall do the same with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard.

12 Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest, so that your ox and your donkey may have relief, and your homeborn slave and the resident alien may be refreshed. 13Be attentive to all that I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.

The Annual Festivals

14 Three times in the year you shall hold a festival for me. 15You shall observe the festival of unleavened bread; as I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt.

No one shall appear before me empty-handed.

16 You shall observe the festival of harvest, of the first fruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall observe the festival of ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor. 17Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord G od.

18 You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened, or let the fat of my festival remain until the morning.

19 The choicest of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the L ord your God.

You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.

The Conquest of Canaan Promised

20 I am going to send an angel in front of you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. 21Be attentive to him and listen to his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him.

22 But if you listen attentively to his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes.

23 When my angel goes in front of you, and brings you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, 24you shall not bow down to their gods, or worship them, or follow their practices, but you shall utterly demolish them and break their pillars in pieces. 25You shall worship the L ord your God, and I will bless your bread and your water; and I will take sickness away from among you. 26No one shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. 27I will send my terror in front of you, and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28And I will send the pestilence in front of you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you. 29I will not drive them out from before you in one year, or the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply against you. 30Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land. 31I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates; for I will hand over to you the inhabitants of the land, and you shall drive them out before you. 32You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. 33They shall not live in your land, or they will make you sin against me; for if you worship their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.

Exodus 23:24. Thou shalt utterly overthrow them. I allow indeed that these supplements would partly agree with, and be applicable to, the First Commandment; but since express mention is everywhere made in them of idols, this place seems to be better suited to them. After Moses has taught what was necessary to be observed, he adds a political law about breaking down altars and overthrowing images, in order that the people may take the more diligent heed. These passages, however, differ from the foregoing; for in condemning thus far the superstitions which are vicious in themselves, God prescribed what He would have observed even to the end of the world. He now confirms that instruction by temporary enactments, that He may keep His ancient people up to their duty. For we have now-a-days no scruples in retaining the temples, which have been polluted by idols, and applying them to a better use; since we are not bound by what was added consequently (propter consequentiam), as they say, to the Law. I admit indeed that whatever tends to foster superstition should be removed, provided we are not too rigorously superstitious in insisting peremptorily on what is in itself indifferent. The sum amounts to this, that to shew more clearly how greatly God detests idolatry, He would have the memory of all those things abolished which had once been dedicated to idols. The second passage more fully unfolds what Moses had briefly adverted to in the first; for under the word “image,” he included all those tokens of idolatry which he afterwards enumerates, and of which he commands the whole land to be so cleared that no relics of them should remain. From the words, when ye have come into the land “to possess it,” Augustin 297297     “Hostes nos dicunt idolorum suorum. Sic praestet Deus, et det omnia in potestate, quomodo dedit quod fractum est. Hoc enim dicimus caritati vestrae, ne faciatis ista, quando in porestate vestra non est, ut faciatis illud. Pravorum hominum est, furiosorum Circumcellionum, et ubi potestatem non habent saevire, et velle mort properant sine causa. Audistis quae vobis legimus, omnes qui nuper in Mappalibus adfuistis. ‘Cum data vobis fuerit terra in potestatem (prius ait in potestatem, et sic dixit quae facienda sunt;) aras eorum, inquit, destruetis, lucos eorum comminuetis, et omnes titulos eorum confringetis.’ (Deuteronomy 7:1, and Deuteronomy 12:9.) Cum acceperitis potestatem, hoc facite. Ubi nobis non est data potestas, non facimus; ubi data est, non praetermittimus,” etc. — Aug. Serm. 62 (Opp. Edit. Bened. T.v.p. 364.) sensibly infers, that there is no command for private individuals to destroy the instruments of idolatry; but that the people are armed and furnished with this authority to take the charge of regulating the public interests, when they have obtained possession of the land. The third passage is more brief, only enumerating three kinds; the fourth adds “graven images,” (sculptilia.) The fifth omits the groves, and puts in their place images or representations made of molten materials; and here we must observe what we have before adverted to, that the name of statue (statuoe) is sometimes taken in a good sense; and therefore the Jews think that what was permitted to the fathers before the Law is now forbidden. To us, however, it seems more probable, that the statues now condemned are not such as Jacob erected only as a monument, but such as they pretended to be a likeness of God. Some translate the word “titles,” 298298     Numbers 33:52, משכיתם A.V., their pictures. others “pictures,” with what propriety I leave to the judgment of my readers. He adds “image,299299     צלמי, tsalemey metallic talismanical figures, made under certain constellations, and supposed, in consequence, to be possessed of some extraordinary influences and virtues.” — Ad. Clarke, in loco. a word which, though not in itself sinful, is still deservedly rejected in connection with the worship of God. Man is the image of God; for Moses uses this same word, when relating the creation of man. But to represent God by any figure, before which He is worshipped, is nothing less than to corrupt His glory, and so to metamorphose Him. By speaking of molten images, he admits neither sculptures nor pictures; but since they are generally cast in the precious metals, the people were expressly to beware of keeping gods of gold or silver for ornament.

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