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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Exodus 23

Verses 1-33

Exodus 23:2

At certain seasons the only way of being right in the future consists in knowing how to resign ourselves to being unfashionable in the present.

Renan.

Universal suffrage assembled at hustings I will consult it about the quality of New Orleans pork, or the coarser kinds of Irish butter; but as to the character of men, I will if possible ask it no question: or if the question be asked and the answer given, I will generally consider, in cases of any importance, that the said answer is likely to be wrong, that I have to listen to the said answer and receive it as authentic, and for my own share to go, and with whatever strength may lie in me, do the reverse of the same. Even so, your Lordship; for how should I follow a multitude to do evil? There are such things as multitudes full of beer and nonsense, even of insincere factitious nonsense, who by hypothesis cannot but be wrong.

Carlyle, Latter-day Pamphlets (ii.).

Human authority at the strongest is but weak, but the multitude is the weakest part of human authority.

John Hales.

Reference. XXIII. 2. J. Cole Coghlan, Penny Pulpit, vol. xiv. No. 828, p. 293.

Exodus 23:6

It is a lamentable fact that pure and uncorrupt justice has never existed in Spain, as far at least as record will allow us to judge; not that the principles of justice have been less understood there than in other countries, but because the entire system of justiciary administration has ever been shamelessly profligate and vile. Spanish justice has invariably been a mockery, a thing to be bought and sold, terrible only to the feeble and innocent, and an instrument of cruelty and avarice.

Borrow's The Gypsies of Spain (chap. xi. pt. i.).

Exodus 23:8

And that he would for no respect digress from justice well appeared by a plain example of another of his sons-in-law, Mr. Heran. For when he, having a matter before him in the Chancery, presuming too much of his favour, would by him in no wise be persuaded to agree to any indifferent order, then made he in conclusion a flat decree against him.... And one Mr. Gresham likewise having a cause depending in the Chancery against him, sent him for a new year's gift a fair cup, the fashion whereof he very well liking caused one of his own to be brought out of his chamber, which he willed the messenger to deliver in recompense, and under other conditions would he in no wise receive it. Many things more of like effect for the declaration of his innocence and clearness from corruption, or evil affection, could I here rehearse besides.

Roper's Life of Sir Thomas More.

Compare the discussion on bribery in Macaulay's Essay on Bacon.

Exodus 23:9

It was God's argument to the Israelites, to be kind to strangers, because themselves had been strangers in the land of Egypt. So should you pity them that are strangers to Christ, and to the hopes and comforts of the saints, because you were once strangers to them yourselves.

Baxter, Saints' Rest, chap. IX.

Exodus 23:11

God throws the poor upon our charge in mercy to us. Couldn't He take care of them without us if He wished? are they not His? It's easy for the poor to feel, when they are helped by us, that the rich are a godsend to them; but they don't see, and many of their helpers don't see, that the poor are a godsend to the rich. They're set over against each other to keep pity and mercy and charity in the human heart. If every one were entirely able to take care of himself we'd turn to stone.... God Almighty will never let us find a way to quite abolish poverty. Riches don't always bless the man they come to, but they bless the world. And so with poverty; and it's no contemptible commission to be appointed by God to bear that blessing to mankind which keeps its brotherhood universal.

G. W. Cable, Dr. Sevier, p. 447.

References. XXIII. 12. J. H. Shakespeare, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lviii. 1900, p. 248. XXIII. 14,15. A. M. Fairbairn, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxiii. 1903, p. 316. XXIII. 15-17. G. Monks, Pastor in Ecclesia, p. 135. XXIII. 16. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Exodus, etc., p. 115. XXIII. 18-20. Bishop Simpson's Sermons, p. 347.

Exodus 23:19

'In less than two minutes,' says Scott, describing at the close of Kenilworth the murder of Amy Robsart, 'Foster heard the tramp of a horse in the courtyard, and then a whistle similar to that which was the Earl's usual signal; the instant after, the door of the Countess's chamber opened, and in the same moment the trap-door gave way. There was a rushing sound a heavy fall a faint groan and all was over.... "So pass our troubles," said Varney, entering the room; "I dreamed not I could have mimicked the Earl's call so well." "Oh, if there be judgment in Heaven, thou hast deserved it," said Foster, "and wilt meet it! Thou hast destroyed her by means of her best affections. It is a seething of the kid in the mother's milk!"' Compare Newman's resentful application of this verse to the behaviour of the Anglican Bishops towards himself in 1843. 'I resigned my living on September the 18th. I had not the means of doing it legally at Oxford. The late Mr. Goldsmid was kind enough to aid me in resigning it in London. I found no fault with the Liberals; they had beaten me in a fair field. As to the act of the Bishops, I thought, to borrow a Scriptural image from Walter Scott, that they had "seethed the kid in his mother's milk".'

Reference. XXIII. 20, 21. J. B. Brown, The Divine Life in Man, p. 235.

Exodus 23:29

I had never an extraordinary enlargement, either of joy, strength, or sanctification, but the waters dried up. There are no sudden steps in grace; 'I will not drive them out all at once'.

Fraser of Brea, Memoirs (chap. 1.).

References. XXIII. 30. C. Jerdan, Pastures of Tender Grass, p. 299. XXIV. 1-12. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Exodus, etc., p. 118.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Exodus 23". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/exodus-23.html. 1910.