Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, June 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 23

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-33

Thou shalt not raise a false report: [perjury] to put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. [In other words, conspiracy in perjury.] Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; [You're not to get into a riotous situation.] neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment: Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause ( Exodus 23:1-3 ).

Now the poor man, look also at verse nine, or rather at verse fifteen, "Thou shalt keep the feast of the unleavened bread". Beg your pardon? Verse six in Leviticus, nineteen, fifteen.

Verse six,

Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of the poor in his cause ( Exodus 23:6 ).

First of all, "You shall not countenance a poor man in his cause." Then, "You're not to wrest the judgment of thy poor in the cause." In other words, the judgment has to be fair. You're not to countenance him just because he's poor, nor are you to wrest judgment from him because he is poor. In other words, his condition financially should have nothing to do with the judgment. The judgment has to be a fair judgment. Not giving him an advantage because he is poor, neither are you to give him a disadvantage because he is poor. You're not to take that into consideration. The judgment is to be fair across the board.

If a man meet your enemy's ox or his ass going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. [Now that's hard to do.] If you see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and you wouldn't forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help him ( Exodus 23:4-5 ).

If you see your neighbor's donkey, and it's just sort of collapsed under the burden, and you just walk by, that's not right. God wants you to be kind towards the animal. You're to help it even if the neighbor hates you; and you've got a big feud going with him, that animal hasn't got a feud going with you. You should be merciful towards the animal. God wants us to be merciful towards animals.

Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and the righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked. And thou shalt take no gift: [Now these are to the judges, they're not to take any gift.] for the gift blinds the wise, and perverts the words of the righteous. [So judges weren't to receive gifts lest they would be influenced by that gift, and would not give true judgment.] Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for you know the heart of a stranger, seeing you were strangers in the land of Egypt. Now six years you shall sow the land, and gather the fruits: But the seventh year [We get the six and one pattern again, and we've already talked about the six years of sowing, "the seventh year",] let the ground rest, let it lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and leave what they leave to the beasts of the field. And in like manner thou shalt deal with the vineyard, and with the oliveyard ( Exodus 23:7-11 ).

In other words, the seventh year is just for the poor people. Let it just rest, whatever grows up naturally whatever seeds were left in the ground, let it grow, let the poor go out and gather it.

Six days thou shalt do thy work, 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. And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: [Be careful, keep it carefully.] and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth. Three times thou shalt keep a feast to me in the year ( Exodus 23:12-14 ).

We have a Thanksgiving feast; they have three feasts. The first one is the feast of unleavened bread. The second one is the feast of Passover which takes place fifty days after the feast of unleavened bread when you are bringing in the first of your winter grains. So it's the first fruits of the winter grain that is brought in there in June, the wheat, the winter wheat that they have sown. The third feast was equivalent to our Thanksgiving feast and it takes place in the harvest time of the year.

when you have gathered of thy labours out of the field ( Exodus 23:16 ):

The third feast. It's equivalent to our Thanksgiving.

So three times a year all of your males shall appear before the Lord God. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my sacrifice remain till morning. The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of Jehovah thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk ( Exodus 23:17-19 ).

Now from this little scripture the Jews have created the whole interpretation of not eating dairy products with meat products at any meal. Because the law said, "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk." So they refuse to eat any meat and dairy products together because of this little scripture.

Now what is the scripture actually prohibiting? If you kill a little goat to eat it, you're not to boil it in its own mother's milk. That's what the law has prohibited. But they say that if you eat a shish kabob, and you're also eating cheese at the same meal, you don't know but what that cheese was made from the mother's milk. And that in your stomach the churning and boiling, the meat of the kid is being seethed in its mother's milk in your stomach.

So they really are very, very religious about this today. You go to Jerusalem and it's-even those that don't believe in God, follow the kosher habits of eating. They won't drink milk at a meal where they have meat nor will-and it's so sad because they have such delicious rolls and they serve you margarine because you're having meat to eat. They will not mix any dairy products with meat products at a meal, lest they be guilty of seething a kid in its mother's milk.

That's what Jesus was talking about when He said to the Pharisees, "Hey you strain at a gnat, and you swallow a camel"( Matthew 23:24 ). Now why would they strain at a gnat? Because you're not to eat anything that hasn't been thoroughly bled.

So if you're jogging along and a gnat gets in your mouth and gets stuck in your throat, you see these guys putting their finger down their throat, and trying to heave, and do everything coughing and carrying on horribly, trying to get that gnat out. Because man, if you eat that gnat that hasn't been bled thoroughly, you've violated the law. There's no way they're gonna swallow that gnat. You see them really coughing and heaving, and doing this big thing and Jesus said, "Hey you're straining at a gnat, but you swallow a camel".

You know, they in other areas just gloss things, change things, misinterpreted things to where they could get by with horrible things, and yet on the little, little issues, oh, did they get so picky on the little insignificant issues. But the major issues of justice, and mercy, and that, you know they just interpreted right around those. So Christ was after them on these things.

Now the Lord is promising when they go into the land that He's gonna,

Send an Angel before them, to keep them in the way, and to bring them into the place which God has prepared ( Exodus 23:20 ).

I believe that this angel of course is Jesus Christ. The Lord said,

Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. But if thou shall indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto your enemies, an adversary to your adversaries. For my Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in to the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hivites, and Jebusites: and I will cut them off ( Exodus 23:21-23 ).

You remember when Joshua was going out looking over the city of Jericho, he saw the captain of the Lord's host, and he said, "Are you for us or against us?" The angel answered, "As the captain of the Lord's host have I come"( Joshua 5:13-14 ). The Lord's host, the angel of the Lord going before them to lead them in. Many Bible scholars accept this as one of the appearances of Christ, Theophony, the appearance of God in the Old Testament, actually in the person of Christ.

Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, [That is of the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites and so forth, "thou shalt not bow down to their gods",] nor serve them, nor do any of their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images. 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. And there shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in the land: the number of thy days I will fulfil. I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, I will make all thine enemies turn their backs to thee. I will send hornets before thee, I shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land becomes desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land ( Exodus 23:24-30 ).

"So these are the blessings, these are the things I'm gonna do for you, predicated upon your serving Me. These are the benefits, the fringe benefits of serving Me. I will do all of these things. I'll go before you, I'll drive out the enemy", and so forth.

Now in this we find the principles of God's victory and the way He brings forth victory in our lives. For these Jebusites, and Hivites, and so forth, are a type of the giants in our flesh; coming into the promised land is coming into the life of the Spirit, and the victory of the Spirit. The overcoming life, coming out of the wilderness, out of the yo-yo Christian experience, where you're up and down, and up and down, into a beautiful, victorious overcoming life in Christ Jesus. A life of victory, a life after the Spirit, not after the flesh.

These enemies that were in the land represent those aspects of our flesh, where it so often has defeated us and conquered us. But God is promising victory over anger, over anxiety, over fears, over temper, over any area of the flesh where you are in bondage to your own flesh. God is promising you the victory, but it comes one area at a time. "Little by little, I won't drive them out in one year." God doesn't just give you instant perfection. But we're growing in grace and in knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So the processes of God's victory are reiterated for us here. "Until we inherit the land."

I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even to the sea of the Philistines, [which would be the Mediterranean.] and 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. Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods ( Exodus 23:31-32 ).

Now in a little while as we move on we're gonna find that they violated this commandment, and they made a covenant with the Gideonites, and we'll deal with the problems that came with the disobedience of this command.

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 to you ( Exodus 23:33 ).

And it was. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Exodus 23". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/exodus-23.html. 2014.
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